The cover fell off last year. Forty years old in January, the rusty staples slipped through the worn crease. The problem is not uncommon.
I thought to just lay the detached cover flat face down, stretch a strip of Scotch tape along the spine, and re-staple it to the interior pages. Some advice from fellow B/X D&D fans warned me about a couple pitfalls.
First, use acid-free book tape. This advice came from a librarian, and I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t though of it myself. The usual invisible tape won’t last long. It will dry, crack, and fall apart. It also contains acid, which eats the cover over time, turning it yellow to start.
Second, wrap the strip of tape around the spine with the cover closed on the book. Applied flat, the tape won’t stretch around the book when it’s closed. It will rather tend to flip open.
3M also makes a Scotch brand book tape. I couldn’t find it at any of the few local stores that were open. I had to order it from the States. It arrived four months later.
I applied the tape, half on the front cover, while the back cover was folded in the closed position, then wrapped the other half around.
Tricky enough. But then I realized that, because the sticky side was exposed through the punched holes and the torn crease, I would have to cover it with another strip of tape on the inside.
Furthermore, it became obvious that any staples would need reinforcement, or they would tear right through the two layers of tape.
For this, I cut two rectangles from an index card. I may have shortened the life of the repair with the card as it was not acid-free.
I cut a length of tape and laid it sticky-side up on a table, holding the ends with stones from a dismantled dwarven city terrain model. To align the rectangles to the staple locations, I laid the interior booklet next to the strip and stuck on each pre-folded rectangle. Then it was just a matter of applying the tape to the inside cover and clipping the tape ends flush to the cover with a blade.
Now to staple the cover. I was happy to discover a local print shop which had a saddle stapler. They didn’t have one the width of the original staples, which wasn’t a problem. But the staples weren’t as long either. Through the interior pages, they bent over the inside only about one millimeter.
This wouldn’t have been such a problem if, rather than two staples at the original locations, I had thought to leave the original staples in place, and use three staples, one at each end and in the middle.
After only two weeks of use, the first folio already slipped out. I’m on a quest for long staples.
Should you encounter a similar problem:
- Use book tape (acid-free).
- Tape the cover folded around the interior pages.
- Reinforce the staple area (also acid-free).
- Leave the original staples if serviceable.
Thanks to Jamie Blackman, Jerry Eblin, and other members of the Dungeons & Dragons B/X Facebook group for their advice.