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Perfect Binding: Fixing My Old SHINee Album

by Syl Schulze

Busy Mind Bindery is a blog dedicated to providing instructional tutorials on book-binding while inviting readers to think about themselves and the world around them.

The thinking and binding every other week precedent has been broken and there’s no going back. My reason for another book tutorial this week was purely my excitement to finally fix a book of mine that fell apart years ago. This is a bit of a peculiar book, as well. If you haven’t noticed from the lovely framed photos of pretty boys in the background of my binding photos, I am fairly into the Korean pop scene. The book I am fixing is actually the photo-book from the 2013 SHINee album Why So Serious? – The Misconceptions of Me. SHINee is my absolute favorite group, and this album one of my particular favorites. I’ve had this copy for four years at the least. As much as it is currently well loved, it began to fall apart within the first year.

The book was bound, like most cheaply made paperback books, with a “perfect binding”. This type of binding consists of a book block made of clean cut pages which are then glued to the spine of a paper cover. One back of the paper cover was then glued to a hardcover casing, which has a space for the CD on the inside as well. I just learned how to perfect bind on last Monday, but once I did I was eager to start this project.

Here are the supplies I used:

  • one perfect-bound book that needs fixing
  • archival PVA neutral PH adhesive
  • a brush for glue
  • a surface to get glue on
  • two binder clips
  • pieces of cardboard/mat board to prevent the binder clips from marring the paper
  • something to squirt glue onto so you can dip your brush into it


1. The first thing I did, since all the pages were falling out to begin with, was separate the stragglers from the spine so that I had a completely separate cover and book block. The pages all separated from the spine naturally, so there was no need to cut or tear any of them. The only pages I could not separate were the first and last pages, as they were still adhering well, and likely would have torn badly if I had applied too much force.

1.1 The Album in its original form
1.2 The paperback photo-book in the casing, along with the CD
1.3 The pages coming apart from the binding

2. Next, I removed the paper cover from the hard-cover casing. I was initially anxious about tearing the paper cover straight from the album, but I figured I couldn’t ruin the binding anymore than it already was. Turned out, the adhesive job on the back cover was equally as bad as the spine, and it took little effort to remove it.

2.1 The pages fully removed from the spine
2.2 A look at the old adhesive used for the spine, which I was able to peel completely from the paper
2.3 Starting to peel the paper cover away from the casing
2.4 The paper cover pulled completely away from the casing

3. Next, I prepared for the gluing. I got out my surface to glue on, my glue, glue brush, binder clips, and cardboard pieces.

3.1 The supplies

4. I made sure all the pages were facing the correct direction, then secured them with the binder clips, using the cardboard to prevent the clips from marking the pages.

4.1 The block all secured and ready

5. Then, I prepared a glop of glue onto a folded up piece of paper (a make-shift palette). I dabbed my brush in the glue and then continued to use a dabbing motion to apply glue all the way down the spine.

5.1 Beginning to dab the glue on
5.2 The glue dabbed all the way down the spine

6. After the glue covered the spine, I then inserted the gluey spine to the spine of the paper cover.

6.1 Pressing the book block on the spine of the cover
6.2 A closer look at the spine

7. Then, I clamped the book together with the binder clips and let it dry overnight.

7.1 The book clamped shut

8. The next day, I checked to see if the pages were secure. When a few are turned they split so you can see the spine. But overall they don’t move. I’ve accepted the fact that I may have to do this repair job all over again.

8.1 A part where the pages split and the spine shows

9. Finally, I glued the back cover of the paper-back book to the hard-cover case. I spread glue onto the back hard-cover with my glue brush. Then, I lined up the last page so it only just covered part of the grey border.

9.1 Gluing up the cover
9.2 Lining up the last page
9.3 The book lying flat

10. Then I decided to press the book flat with a heavier book.

10.1 Pressing the book

That’s it for perfect binding! You can make your own perfect-bound books with the same method, ensuring you’ve cut pages and folded a paper cover they can be glued into.

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