Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I Need a Genizah

So, for years I've been proud of the fact that I had what was, among the folks I knew, the only intact copy of  BROTHERS & FRIENDS, Kilby and Mead's excellent edition of Warnie Lewis's fascinating and endlessly readable diary. Sad to say, that's no longer the case: I had to look up something in it last week and found to my dismay that the binding is now split in multiple place, meaning I have to carefully cradle it when turning pages to prevent it from disintegrating altogether.

The same fate has befallen my first-edition copy of THE ROAD TO MIDDLE-EARTH:  a thirty-page section of which has come loose, with several more spots about to go where the binding is cracked and partly detached.

Even some of the HME volumes are beginning to show signs of years of hard usage.

The problem is that I can't just replace these with new copies because most of them are heavily annotated. And there's also the sentimental value: I've used these books for years and have good memories associated with them. I cd never get rid of my first copy of THE HOBBIT, or the black-cover three-volume LotR with orange, red, and purple Eye of Sauron on the cover: that's where it all began.

What to do with tattered but precious books?

And it's not just scholarly books. My copy of WATERSHIP DOWN, one of my favorite books, is falling apart -- I guess I just literally read it to pieces.

As for D&D books, my original PLAYER'S HANDBOOK, which I bought back in '80-81, is still intact, though its pages are starting to get fragile and apt to tear. Considering the hundreds if not thousands of hours I've spent pouring over this, it's been a great bargain. My original copy of the MONSTER MANUAL is also still holding up well, but the DMG came loose from its cover long ago.

It was thus a sad surprise that my copy of the current PH, which I've only had for three or four years, is beginning to split. It won't be long before the cracks in the binding break. I'm less attached to the 5th edition rules, but I need a set for our weekly Monday night game.

--John R.
location: Logan Airport.
current reading: various Old School D&D modules from NTRPGcon (bought last year, finally having a good chance to read them now).


grodog said...

re: bindings failing, I feel your pain, John!

re: "current reading: various Old School D&D modules from NTRPGcon (bought last year, finally having a good chance to read them now)."

I'm glad to hear that you're finally getting the chance to dig into them! =)


Wurmbrand said...

Warnie's Brothers and Friends ought to be reissued. (Yes, my copy split too.) There will be at least some small demand for it from the CSL public & an uptick when Don King's biography of WHL appears eventually.

Dale Nelson

Clive Shergold said...

Before you commit them to the grave, it could be worth looking for a bookbinder. If the books are properly built - signatures sewn into a proper spine - then it should be possible to conserve and reconstruct them and reattach the original covers.
If they are perfect bound, you may have less hope of restoring them.

I was brought up to care for books, and our Hobbit/LOTR hardbacks are still comfortably usable (not having been important academic source books for years!). Our cheap sixties paperbacks did not always do so well. The two I remember as suffering most deterioration were The Silver Chair (C.S.Lewis) and The Nine Tailors (Dorothy.L.Sayers).

N.E. Brigand said...

Be careful if you do go to a bookbinder. A friend of mine had two first American editions of "The Hobbit", both handed down from his parents. One was particularly worn, so a little while ago, he took it to a shop that sends such books out to be rebound, and it was lost in transit. Or maybe "lost" to an unscrupulous party. So make sure the shop you use has a good reputation for such work.

John D. Rateliff said...

Thanks to all on the bookbinding advice.

Dale N: I hadn't heard of a forthcoming biography of W.H.L.