Book and dog lovers Rosenberg and Marcowitz set out, several years ago, to open a bookshop devoted to the literature of dogs. They noted that books and dogs share certain characteristics: both have heads, tails, and spines; both need and deserve tender loving care; and both are among the most faithful friends known to man.
As they acquired stock and discovered that often the older books are the better, they recognized another shared characteristic: both dogs and books need to be cleaned and groomed from time to time in order to stay healthy and attractive. “We learned rudimentary book care while we learned bookselling, as we went along...first guided by simple housekeeping routines: dusting, straightening up, fussing here and there…When we began to specialize in old books…we encountered loose hinges, torn endpapers and dust jackets, frayed spines, and other defects that begged to be fixed. Eventually we found simple ways to meet these challenges.”
The authors go on to share the techniques they have developed for the maintenance and repair of books of all ages. Most are, indeed, quite simple, and require only typical household products and materials – rubbing alcohol, soft rags, white glue, and the like. They describe their methods clearly, giving easy-to-follow step by step directions for remedying a number of common problems. As with dogs, so with books: patience is key.
While The Care and Feeding of Books is in fact something of a how-to manual, it imparts a warmth seldom found in such volumes. I could easily imagine, as I read it, that I was attending a small class taught by congenial master craftsmen, in which I was learning skills that I can and will use on my own for a long time to come.