What is Book Repair Tape?

Mary Elizabeth

Book repair tape, also known as book binding tape and occasionally referred to as bookbinder’s tape, refers to several different kinds of tape used in preserving and making repairs to books and other paper publications. It comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses and is used for several different purposes. Acid-free and/or archival quality tape is available in a variety of styles as well, and some include pH specifications in their descriptions.

Book repair tape is typically used to reattach book covers and pages.
Book repair tape is typically used to reattach book covers and pages.

Cloth Tape. Cloth tape is used to repair spines and reinforce card stock and board products such as pamphlet covers, record albums, and binders.

Linen Tape. There is also a linen-backed white tape known as book repair tape. This tape is generally archival quality and is used for hinging. Some linen tape is gummed, while other styles have adhesive — sometimes called self-adhesive — backing. Also, some linen tape has center perforations so that it folds easily. Another use for this type of tape is to replace the hinges of the swell flap mechanisms on reed organs, but using hot glue, rather than the gummed adhesive backing, is recommended.

Paper Tape. This type is specifically meant to aid in repair of pages. It can mend page edges that have been damaged or reattach torn-out pages. It can also be used on unbound documents.

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Transparent Tape and Film. One sort of book repair tape is a clear polyethylene tape with a glossy finish, available in rolls of various widths. This flexible tape can be used to repair torn paper covers, to reinforce spines, and to protect paperbacks and magazines. There is also transparent film available that has two special qualities — it can repositioned for about four hours, and the peelable backing is marked with a grid to make accurate measurement easy.

Vinyl-coated Cloth Tape. Vinyl-coated cloth tape in colors to match or contrast with the binding is used to reinforce book spines, and comes, like other self-adhesive vinyl covering products, on a peel-off liner. Fluorescent vinyl-coated book repair tape is also available, as is poly-coated cloth tape. Any of these can also be used for color-coding files, storage boxes, or other items.

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Discussion Comments


I wish I had found out about book repair tapes earlier.

I'm sure some people will be appalled reading this, but I had a couple of books I used throughout high school and college. They were so worn out at one point that the cover would completely fall off or the pages would come out and get all mixed up. I would repair them using Elmer's glue and some duct tape.

Of course this repair didn't last long. The duct tape ended up destroying the paper-back covers altogether. And the Elmer's glue was so stiff that the pages would rip as I tried to flip them over. I had to throw the books away.

I should have used some vinyl covered cloth tape and transparent film instead. I would probably still have those books now.


@jonrss-- Is the ripped page the only damage done to the book?

If so, I think a transparent book repair tape will work for now. But if there is other damage done to the book, you should consider taking it to a book preservation expert.

Clearly this book is valuable to you and if you try to repair it yourself, you might end up damaging it even more. Book repair is actually a lot harder than it seems. Repairing a small rip is not so bad but repairing covers or hinging is hard. There are experts who repair them for a small cost.

The only books I repair myself are recipe books. I often use cloth book repair tape or maybe some acid free glue to put pages back together. But for valuable books, I take it to an expert.


@anon31216-- You're probably right but have you tried acid-free book repair tapes? They are said to be a lot better than other tapes and are supposed to cause no damage to the book in the long run.

I don't have old books at home but I do have a lot of old family documents, journals and pictures that I'm preserving. Last week, I noticed that several had been torn during our move and needed repair fast.

I don't know much about book repair tape but I asked around for the best product and was recommended an acid-free book binding repair tape. It comes in strips and is made of polyester. I just followed the directions and it went on really easily and bound the ripped pages nicely. I guess we'll see how it turns out in the long-term but I'm quite impressed with it so far.


I have an old children's book that belonged to my grandmother. It has been in each generation since and is something of a family heirloom.

I was reading it to my daughter recently and as I was turning one of the pages it ripped. Not too badly but it is about an inch or two long.

I was at the store and I saw scotch book repair tape and I wondered if that would stop the tear and protect the paper? Does anyone have any expertise in this area? How can I make sure that this old book is preserved for as long as possible?


I work in the technical services department of a large public library system and most of my day is spent repairing old books. Often times this involves massive amounts of book tape.

It works for certain small jobs but past a point it is pretty hopeless. This is one of the trickiest jobs that a library is tasked with performing. They have to protect the information held in those books even long after the physical structure of the book has been destroyed.


Book tape is no longer considered a good preservation method, as it is difficult if not impossible to reverse. Even the "archival" paper tape should only be used on documents or books that have little or no artifactual value. It is better to do those repairs using wheat starch paste and thin Japanese tissue: this repair can be reversed if needed.

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