Frequently Asked Questions

What is your Covid-19 Protocol?

For customers not located in Kingston, contact us via email with detailed photos of the book or document. Send photos of the front, back, spine, book when open, the inner hinge, and any pages that are damaged. Based on the photos, we can estimate how many hours it will take to restore/rebind the book or document. For customers located in the Kingston area, Ars Libri is taking customers in person by appointment only due to COVID-19. Email or call for an appointment and bring the book/document with you. 

How much does it cost?

To rebind or bind a regular sized book in high-quality leather and with an embossed title is $300. The cost of rebinding/restoration services increases from there with the extent of damage to the book, the required intricacy, time, and the materials needed. To get an estimate, please send me pictures of the book you would like to restore or bind to:

When do I pay for restoration, binding, or custom leatherwork?

50% of the price must be paid when the restoration order is accepted as a non-refundable down-payment due to the price of materials and time-consuming nature of the work. The remaining 50% plus tax is paid upon completion. All custom leather work has to be paid in full when the order is placed. All processed payments are non-refundable, but customers can exchange a purchased item. Taking into consideration that the restoration of a book, particularly old, large-format family Bibles can be rather costly, I accept monthly payments. Customers will receive the restored book after the last payment is processed.

 Why is restoration service expensive? 

This is not standard work. Every book that a customer brings to me was used, stored, and bound differently. Even if it only looks like a cracked spine, it often indicates the entire structure of the book is gone. I have to take the book apart, clean the spine, create proper hinges, reinforce them, and build the structure again. The real work in book restoration is underneath all the finishes, so it’s very easy to charge cheap prices but to use shortcuts. Just because it looks nice, does not mean the work was done correctly. I often have to reverse damages done by non-professional bookbinders who cut corners. 

The standard of a good book conservator is to take detailed photos of the book’s condition before it is taken apart and then document step by step the stages of restoration. I take photos before, during, and after documenting each step in the restoration process so my customers know the work that I charge for has been done and done properly according to conservation standards.

Book restoration is a very time consuming and intricate process that often takes countless hours to complete. It requires removing and cleaning all elements of the original binding, restoring and lubricating the original leather, making sure that all elements of the original binding that can be saved are incorporated into the new binding, resewing, reinforcing structure, constructing new leather or cloth inner and outer hinges, sewing in headbands, etc. A book might look like something small, but when restoring it, I have to work with every single page and that translates to a surface of many, many square meters.  

Proper restoration also requires very high-quality and costly materials like vegetable tanned or sulfur-free archival leather, costly acid-free paper, and Japanese handmade conservation quality tissue.  

How long will it take?

It depends on how many projects I am working on at the time, as it could be up to three months before I can start work on your restoration. Standard rebinding is a much quicker process and can be completed in a matter of weeks. However, for restoration and more complex rebinding projects and custom leather work the timeline is generally 2-4 months.

What is your shipping policy? 

We accept works for restoration or rebinding through shipping. It doesn’t matter what courier you choose as long as the book or document is properly wrapped to prevent further damage and the box is marked as fragile. Fragile items are frequently shipped via courier between my business and clients, domestically and internationally, without damage. Shipping can be discussed in more detail during consultation. Please do not ship anything prior to a consultation. Any of our leatherwork can also be shipped, pricing will depend on carrier rates.

Is my book too damaged to be restored?

Practically almost every book can be restored. The exception might be books severely damaged by fire or those exposed to water for an extended period of time and totally disintegrated. You wouldn’t believe what can be done. I once worked on an old Bible for a client from the US that no other conservators would take, and I brought it back to life. Another client brought a Polish prayer book to me for restoration which had survived a 19th century gulag in Siberia. It was the only Polish book there, so it had been used extensively. It was in extremely poor condition; the cover and its embellishments were in pieces, the pages badly damaged, partially missing, and brittle. Every single page had to be encapsulated – pressed between two sheets of Japanese handmade tissues — but it was successfully restored. It’s always worth a consultation with a professional book conservator to see what your options are.

Do you only restore leather bindings?

No, I also restore cloth bindings, documents, and any other paper artifacts. 

Is it worth it to restore my book?

The decision really comes down to you. Some books have monetary value, and some have sentimental value. Although they are not collector’s items, people very often restore large family Bibles because they contain the family history which is invaluable to them. When it comes to collector’s items, you would have to contact an antiquarian bookseller that can appraise the book, I don’t do appraisals. Sometimes, especially with first editions, the less work done, the better. What I can tell you is that restoration work should not diminish the value of the book if it is done correctly. My advice is to contact a professional conservator because the damage caused by untrained repairs are often irreversible.  

How long does restoration work last?

When professionally done, properly stored, and used carefully, the restored book or document will last many, many years. After the book is restored, I build a “clam shell box” for it which prevents sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ultraviolet light from penetrating its pages and causing the paper to disintegrate. Under these circumstances, its condition can be preserved for many future generations to come. I also offer a deacidification service that will prevent pages from disintegrating, extending the artifact’s lifetime considerably.

Why are my pages turning yellow?

Yellowing paper in books or documents is a sign of very high acidity. Books and documents from the mid 19th century to 1980 are generally very highly acidic as the paper contains lignin. Acidity causes a breakdown of the molecular structure of the paper as it ages, causing yellowing. We call this process “slow fire.” Chloe Vassot writes: “‘Slow fire’ refers to the continuous acidification and subsequent embrittlement of paper that carries the seeds of its own ruin in its very fibers. [...] The destruction is inevitable. Depending on how a book was made and how it’s been stored, embrittlement can happen in as little as 30 to 100 years.” Ultimately, this process will turn the paper into dust. The damage caused by high acidity cannot be reversed but the process can be stopped or prevented through deacidification. Email or call for a consultation.

What do I do if I can’t get my book restored right away?

Looking for a quick fix for a cracked spine or torn pages? There isn’t one! Do not apply any tape — proper tape removal is extremely time consuming, damages the pages, and the discolouration can be irreversible. Do not put a rubber band around the book or store it in a plastic bag. Keep the book in an acid free box, in a cool, dry place until you can get it professionally repaired.