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Jeruba's avatar

Bibliophiles: would you attempt this save?

Asked by Jeruba (48711points) March 3rd, 2019

I’m holding a copy of George Eliot’s Middlemarch that belonged to my late mother. It’s a hardcover “Modern Readers” edition published by Macmillan in 1926.

When my mother’s books came to me, I tried to read this copy, but it literally crumbled in my hands. The binding is falling apart, the gold-stamped spine is disintegrating, and the pages are yellow and fragile.

Moreover, the inner margin on many pages is no more than ¼” and on some pages as little as 1/8”.

This had to have been a relatively economical edition in the first place, and it simply has not held up over time.

But my mother, a great Eliot admirer, read and reread this copy, to judge from her penciled notations. This was one of a few books that she kept close by all her life.

I can barely stand to put any book in the trash, no matter how worthless. I’ve probably actually thrown away no more than a dozen in my whole life. But this one seems past saving, although I would call it far from worthless.

If this book were in your care, would you attempt any sort of restoration? If so, what kind and how, and how costly would it be?

If it’s hopeless, would you keep it as is, unreadable, or let it go?

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10 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

Keep it. At least until you are convinvced that you won’t be torn with pangs of regret at its loss.

canidmajor's avatar

I agree with @stanleybmanly. I would keep it until I could bear to part with it. It did its job, keeping your mother happy for so long.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No, it’s already falling apart and there is no way to retard that.

If your mother’s annotations are important, then take the book and have the pages scanned an saved as a PDF file.

But the physical book, at this point, will only crumble.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I agree with Stanley. Keep it for no other reason than sentiment. That is not the best reason, but it’s still a reason.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Since it is something that you feel was important in your Mother’s life, I think you should hold on to it for sentimental reasons. You might want to check around your area & toy with the idea of having it rebound. The rebinding is often a lengthy process & can be expensive. There are a few who will rebind at a very reasonable fee out of their love of old books & their desire to preserve. Even IF you don’t have it rebound, I’d hold onto it out of my love & respect for my Mom!!!

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Like the idea of scanning it. Books are hard to scan, unless you cut off the spine and can run the pages through a sheet feeder in a stack. This one is halfway there already.

I had an aunt with a trove of family photos. She would never let me borrow them for scanning. She saw them as treasures and could not bear the thought of losing them.

In reality, the treasure is the content, the image, not the paper.

Her son threw them all away after she died. If I had scans, they would have been broadcast to all the family. They could be enjoyed by generations.

With a an ebook, you can keep your mother’s annotated book forever and share it.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Instead of scanning try just taking a digital photograph of each page.
Then edit each for clear viewing etc
I did this for pictures that were in a old photo album of which the owner didn’t want to remove them .This worked out much better and I could then repair scratch,torn areas using photo software plus enhance the colors to show some of the faded originals in a better light etc.

janbb's avatar

You won’t be able to rebind or restore but keep it as a momento if you wish to.

Zaku's avatar

I’d probably put it on my ancestral altar…

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