16 July 2013

Book Fixes

I pulled out my copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for my next course. Well, one of my copies. This particular one is part of a boxed set that my man gave me many years ago, I think it might have been for our first Christmas after we were married. And then, also many years ago (but not quite as many), one of the kids was practising her scissors skills on the cover. (In her defense it must be said she was quite small. And she never did it again, at least not on book covers - the cat's fur and her own bangs were a different matter. I'm not sure which came first, the hair cut or the book trimming. But in either case, even though I don't remember my reaction exactly, I'm sure it was sufficient to put a healthy respect for the sanctity of the printed page into her. It doesn't seem to have scarred her for life, fortunately.)

So, anyway, this poor book has lived with half a jagged-edged cover for the last however-many years (title: The The Witch A The Wardrob). I even bought another boxed set of the Narnia novels from Scholastic to replace this one, but I could never really warm to that version with its movie-tie-in covers. It seems cheap, somehow. Well, it was cheap - it's Scholastic, after all (I love Scholastic; but quality of physical properties of books is not one of their strong points).

So I pulled out this book from between The Magician's Nephew and Prince Caspian to do preliminary work for my course. It really was pathetic, that half cover. Fortunately, the actual text escaped the ravages of toddler scissors unscathed; only the front matter got hit. The copyright page looks pretty sad, and there's a couple of snips on the edge of the page which has Lewis' dedication letter to his goddaughter Lucy on it, but from the table of contents onwards the paper is intact. But it really didn't feel nice, handling that jagged-edged cover. So I thinks to myself: why not fix this? Can't make it worse, can I?

Now, I love books. Not just reading them, but handling them. I could probably be quite content in a job in the library's processing department, where they stick the Dewey Decimal stickers on the spine and put nice clear covers around the books to keep them looking pristine. Perhaps in another life I was a bookbinder? Anyway, fixing a poor, mutilated book is something that's quite a pleasing endeavor.

I started with a piece of plain white card stock, trimmed it to size, then glue-sticked it to the inside of the cover. So now instead of a half cover with a jagged edge I had a half-coloured cover with a jagged-edged section of white staring at me. Much better on the tactile end, but still not so glorious visually. Along comes the offspring (she of the scissors skills) and says "You should find that cover online, print it out and glue it on!" Brilliant, eh? And that's just what I did - well, the finding and glueing; she actually did the printing (it had to be sized just right to fit, and she's good with stuff like that; besides, she sits next to the printer. And she's just one of those obliging kinds of people).

So now I've got a nice, complete image on the cover of The LION, The Witch AND The WardrobE again. It's a little paler on one side, and the fit isn't 100% exact (due to the cropping of the online image). But that's just one of those pleasing signs of age, sort of like the wrinkles at the corners of my eyes (Velveteen Rabbit, with the plush loved off, that sort of thing). Just a sign that this book has been well-used (not just ill-used). I'm happy.

Life, the Universe, and the Fixing of Books. Now I can have my book fixes again.


  1. Lovely. I left my copy of LWW outside once when I was a kid (reading outside=good. Consistently forgetting to bring books inside=not so much), and unsurprisingly enough, it got rained on. The book itself is still readable but swollen, and the back cover fell off entirely. With the pages being as swelled out as they are, I'm not sure there really is any fix to the book ...

    Of course, most of my books in that particular series are falling apart simply due to being read so often. Except for The Last Battle. That was, unsurprisingly enough, my least favorite as a kid. (NOOOO Narnia can't be gone! Sure, it's swell for all them, but what about ME? I want adventures there too, and now I can't have them!)

    1. I didn't like Narnia at all when I was a kid - shocking, eh? We had a copy of The Magician's Nephew (in the German translation is was called "Die geheimnisvolle Tür", "The Mysterious Door"), and I found the Witch so hateful and nasty, I couldn't stand the book. It wasn't until I was in grade 7 that I discovered the other books (starting with Prince Caspian, actually, and *then* going to LWW) - and I was completely hooked. So I actually liked The Last Battle when I read it; I think as a teen you have more maturity for that sort of ending than when you're younger.