Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Cover Woes

A few days after my copy of Mary Renault's The Charioteer arrived in the mail, I glued the book shut.

Let me rewind.

Since its first publication in 1953, The Charioteer has had exactly one good cover: the very first. Fifty years of subpar covers have followed. As much as I would like to own a first edition, I don't have a spare hundred dollars lying around. Nor did I want to delay getting a copy in my grubby little mitts for good, free to mark up the pages and inhale the dust of the spine as I see fit without the censure of the library staff. So I pocketed my pride and bought one of the dismal reprints.

My time working at a craft store has left me with an assortment of odd skills, including Professional Gift Wrapping and Smiling Relentlessly On Christmas Eve. I've bound and covered a few journals by hand. It seemed simple enough to apply the same process to cover The Charioteer with a new paper jacket adhered directly on top of the old crummy one.

I missed a crucial step: putting wax paper between the cover and the rest of the pages, to prevent the book glue from slobbering everywhere. Whoops.

Forty minutes later, I finished separating the pages. No permanent damage was done, thankfully, even if the back half is a little more "feathery-looking" than when it arrived on my door. And the new cover paper came out quite sharp-looking against the original spine, which I left exposed for easy identification on my bookshelf.

But yes, for a little while there, I thought I had sealed my brand-new book forever.

I'm a hoarder when it comes to books; I like having physical copies in my hand and a stirring array of spines lined up end to end. The potential to "fix" bad covers has made me a lot less fussy when it comes to choosing editions of books now. As I type, my grungy mid-eighties technicolor version of The Princess Bride is being pressed with its new Florentine (!) paper cover. Who knows where I could go from here!

No comments:

Post a Comment