Hall of Shame


Today I received another big book in the Preservation Lab for repair that has split apart in the back, so that the case is detaching from the textblock.  Its treatment will be a recase, with textile hinges to reinforce the case-to-textblock attachment.  I see this kind of damage all too often in large books.  Publishers put everything they can into one large book instead of breaking the content down into two books of a more manageable size.  Thin, cheap, or slick paper, bulky size, too much weight, and too many pages all add to the structure of the book failing.

Hinge splitting at the back of the book.

Hinge splitting at the back of the book.

Next is a post-bound book that one of our student workers, Hannah Isabell, is going to be working on.  She will dismantle it and put sections into custom portfolios for easier use and shelving.  As you can see, this book measures a whopping 8.25”!

Post-bound book too large to use safely or easily.

Post-bound book too large to use safely or easily.

Our next example is Veterinary Medicine: A Textbook of the Diseases of Cattle, Horses, Sheep, Pigs, and Goats by Radostits, Gay, Hinchcliff, and Constable.

TooBig-04

This book measures 3.5” thick and suffers from a typical split in the back of the book and wrinkled pages in both the front and back.

TooBig-05

Veterinary Medicine: A Textbook of the Diseases of Cattle, Horses, Sheep, Pigs, and Goats by Radostits, Gay, Hinchcliff, and Constable.

Over 2100 pages of excellent veterinary information drew my eye and my hands to repair this book.  This book is so big that it must be sitting on my desk and not in my hands to look at, and would be much easier to use had it been made into two volumes.  The content could have been split up by species, such as cattle and horses in volume one, and sheep, pigs, and goats in volume two.

Veterinary Medicine: A Textbook of the Diseases of Cattle, Horses, Sheep, Pigs, and Goats by Radostits, Gay, Hinchcliff, and Constable.

Veterinary Medicine: A Textbook of the Diseases of Cattle, Horses, Sheep, Pigs, and Goats by Radostits, Gay, Hinchcliff, and Constable.

While we understand that publishers are trying to save on costs by cramming all of the information into a single volume, it actually ends up costing us more, because we have to spend time and resources repairing these volumes after they have circulated just once, if they even make it that far.

What do the four titles Marketing Research; Drinking Water; Herbs, Health and Cookery; and Tigers in the Emerald Forest all have in common?  These are four newly-purchased books coming to the Preservation Department this week for repair.  Two need minor mending repairs and the other two books will need to be recased entirely, as they have major damage.  The worst is Marketing Research — apparently there was no quality control at the publisher’s!  The last four pages had significant damage.  The picture below speaks for itself.

Marketing Research

Marketing Research

It is often too costly for the Library to send books back to the publisher for replacement, so instead they are sent to the Preservation Department for repair.   This used to be a rare occurrence but is now a much more common happening each month.   It is disheartening to see a new book damaged before a student has a chance to crack it open for the first time.  Many bindings such as Herbs, Health, and Cookery fail because of cheap glue and poor construction, which does not hold up to the processing of the book when received at the Library.  All I can say is that when I repair Herbs, Health, and Cookery, it won’t be falling apart later!

Herbs, Health, and Cookery

Herbs, Health, and Cookery

One Friday afternoon when the book truck of injured books from Circulation was delivered to the conservation lab, a book was brought to my attention.  Tim from Circ/Stacks told me that our copy of 1000 Solved Problems in Modern Physics published by Springer in 2010 had four duplicate leaves and 8 missing leaves.  Where there was a duplicate leaf like 409-410, the leaves on either side were missing, in this case 407-408 and 411-412.

Page on the left is 406. Pages on the right are 409, 409, 413, and 413.

We have encountered this before.  Normally, missing pages are requested via Interlibrary Loan.  A technician would scan them, clean them up, and print them front-to-back on permanent/durable paper.  These would be trimmed and tipped-in to the volume.  Did I mention it was late on a Friday afternoon?  Well, I needed something interesting to hold my attention.  I went to the Springer website and found their “contact” page.  I chose “Books and software: individual customers,” and entered my request for replacement pages.  I hit the submit button and received the pleasant response that my message had been received and was being processed.  I then waited excitedly for a response.  What would they say?  What would they do?  Would they even bother responding?

I did manage to refrain from mentioning that their binding was terrible; the text block is already splitting and the front cover is separating from the text block.  No point in making too many complaints at once.  Once I had someone on the hook I could mention it then.

Cover pulling away from text block and text block splitting.

Four weeks passed without a peep, even after a quick follow up email asking if someone would contact me.  I would have tried calling but they do not provide any phone numbers, just the email form.  One of our Acquisitions staff provided me with a contact who handles electronic databases.  I sent off an email and he quickly responded, connecting me with someone who deals with replacement copies.  In another couple of days, this individual contacted me to inform me that they could not send the missing pages but if I provided our invoice number the warehouse would send me a replacement copy.  I did decline this offer since it would not streamline our process.

Another two weeks went by (a total of eight weeks since the original message was sent), when customer service contacted me and said I needed to provide a phone number so a UPS pick-up could be arranged.  And then, “Once we receive the return, we will process a replacement copy  on our system.   If the book is available, you will receive it within 7-10 days; however, if the book is on hold due to corrections that need to be made to it; then your request will remain on backorder until it is ready to ship to you.”  They apparently can’t tell me if it’s available until they receive the defective copy–not sure how that database works.  Needless to say, even more hoops to jump through with no guarantee that we get a replacement copy in any timely manner, I declined but did tell them that their bindings are terrible and already splitting.  No response.

Mindy Moe thought this might be a cigarette burn caused by some hot ash or a cigarette itself falling into the book.  However it happened, the burn caused a loss of text and image, so we got ahold of another copy of this book via Interlibrary Loan and made a replacement page by scanning the unmarred page in the borrowed book.  We then cut out the damaged page in our copy of the book, leaving a stub, and tipped in the replacement page — a lot of work for one moment of carelessness.  Please don’t burn books!

We have had a rash of bad modern publisher’s bindings come through the lab lately.  Not because some publisher decided to get creative, but simply sloppy work and no quality control.  When do you all say enough is enough and have your acquisitions departments send books back for replacements?  Does this automatically happen?  Do they consult you first?  Or do they just send them through the workflow like nothing is wrong?

I realize that there is a tipping point between time and labor in repairing these books in-house and time and labor in shipping the book back to the publisher or vendor and then receiving and reprocessing a new volume, but what’s the tipping point?  This usually happens so infrequently that we normally just make the repair, but there have been four such items this week.  By sending them back, do the publishers get the message, or is this just business as usual?

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