How to fix the binding on a paperback book

Updated April 13, 2017

Bookbinding is a process in which a book is physically assembled from unfolded or folded paper and a cover is put on. Although paperbacks often have a less expensive price tag, they often suffer from wear and tear of regular use, and the cover may loosen from the pages. Fixing the binding on a paperback book can add years to its shelf life and allow you to save the money of purchasing a new copy.

Clear off your work area and make sure it's dry.

Open the book so that it is open to where the loose pages are or where the missing pages belong.

Cut waxed paper and set it on each side of the crack so that the glue does not spread, making the book difficult to open, and so damage is not caused to the manuscript.

Take glue and spread it along the crack of the spine while the book is still open.

Put the pages that have fallen out back in the book so that the edges of the page align.

Wipe off any excess glue if it starts to spill out onto the waxed paper.

Close the book and place the paperback under several books while it dries. The books should be heavier so that they act like a press during the drying process.

Wait overnight or follow the glue manufacturer's instructions for the drying time before opening the book.

Clear off your work area, allowing it to dry.

Open the cover of the book and lay it out so that the cover remains on a flat surface.

Cover the spine of the book with glue and make sure that the book does not have globs of glue. The glue should be spread evenly on the spine edge.

Take the manuscript and carefully set the book's spine edge into the glue of the cover.

Close the book and check the outside of the book for any excess glue. Wipe away the excess glue, wiping toward the spine rather than outside toward where the book opens in order to prevent the pages from being glued together. Make sure you use a clean rag each time you wipe the book off to prevent spreading the glue.

Use rubber bands and tie them around the entire book to keep it shut. Press the book under heavier books so they act as a press while the glue dries.

Wait overnight or follow the glue manufacturer's instructions for the drying time before opening the book.

Take tape and reattach it to the cover, then put the tape parallel to the spine of the book so that half the tape remains on the first page. Fold the tape so that it is back on itself.

Align the cover to the edge of the spine on the book and press it onto the sticky half of the tape.

Take a clear plastic film and cover the book so that it reinforces the spine. If you do not have access to a clear plastic film, you may choose to use a heavy-duty tape.


An ideal glue for repairing the binding on the book is PVA, also known as polyvinyl acetate, rather than a regular school glue.


Never use duct tape or packing tape to repair a book, as it will start to peel in about three years and the colour will start to yellow.

Things You'll Need

  • Waxed paper
  • Glue
  • Clean rags
  • Rubber bands
  • Tape
  • Clear plastic film
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About the Author

Andrea Helaine has a Bachelor of Philosophy in theology and is currently finishing her thesis course for a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. Helaine has been writing professionally for over 10 years and has been published in several anthologies and is currently breaking into the screenwriting market.