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Book Mending is Going the Way of the Buggy Whip | The Digital Reader
The internet radically changed the book industry by first making endless information available almost for free, and then by making all used books available in the world's largest swap meet (no, not Amazon). As the NYTimes reports, cheap alternatives and replacements is having the predictable impact on book repair as it did on electronics twenty or more years ago. Libraries like the King County Library System used to employ staffs of book menders, but now King County only has the single expert on the payroll: Donald Vass, who has spent the last 26 years mending and tending to books for the King County Public Library system here in the Seattle area, has seen both mechanical and human-inflicted damage and more. At 57 and with not many years left before retirement, he says he believes he will be the last full-time traditional bookbinder ever to take up shears, brushes and needles here. The skills take too long to learn, he said, and no one is being groomed to take his place in “the mendery,” Room 111 at the library’s central service center, where not so many years ago 10 people worked. ... Menderies, often called book hospitals, were once common in [...]