Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Book Doctor

From the Dallas Morning News comes an interesting story about a local "book doctor" and the people who bring books to her shop:

They come to the small shop in the Bishop Arts District with books. And stories.The wife whose husband accidentally spilled bleach and salsa on a book he borrowed from a friend.

The father who wanted his Bible restored so he could give it to his son before dying of cancer.

The daughter who wanted to repair the books that belonged to her sick mother as a way of keeping her mom's memory alive.

They come to see Julie Schleier, better known as the Book Doctor.

One page at a time, Ms. Schleier repairs, restores and binds books and Bibles that are long overdue for checkups.

While tough economic times may have some businesses struggling to stay afloat, the Book Doctor says her business is booming, in part because book-repair shops aren't plentiful.

"We have 12 weeks of orders," Ms. Schleier says. "Bookbinding is a dying art, but it doesn't mean there's not a demand for it."
The shop, tucked away at the end of a strip of stores, is filled with colored leathers, Irish linen papers and notes from customers thanking her for her restoration efforts. Ms. Schleier and four colleagues do nearly all the work by hand, from thinning strips of leather to make bookbinders to typesetting letters and using heat guns to remove glue from the spines of old books.
I've never had a book repaired but I can easily understand the sentimentality attached to certain books that would demand their restoration when wear and tear threatens their longterm survival. Every time a hurricane approaches Houston my first thought goes to all the books on my shelves and the window that is only ten feet across the room from them. I've emptied the shelves more than once in order to make sure that the books remain dry. Long live the book doctor.

(Read the whole article here.)


  1. Lovely story, Sam. That makes me think of my Mom who, when her father was in his last years, had a couple of his volumes of Heinrich Heine's poetry that he was able to take with him from Germany beautifully re-bound (new end pages too). It was a very meaningful gift for him.

  2. What a great idea for a gift to an older person, Ted. I can imagine how touched he must have been by the thought that went into that.