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Restoring Books Into Forever Keepsakes: Minnesota Book Restoration & Binding

Article and photos by Merle Minda

Many of us have some books stashed away on our shelves that are in terrible shape, perhaps inherited from parents or grandparents, or perhaps even some of our own – old albums, high school annuals, college readers, art books, an encyclopedia or whatever. And often these books are on their last legs, with ripped pages or broken spines, just for starters.

If you want to make a rescue, help is at hand. A new company, Minnesota Book Restoration & Binding, can fix literally any deteriorating book. Owner Mary Bahneman has set up shop in the North Loop, glueing, scraping, trimming, binding and restoring books in any shape of bad.

Mary Bahneman founder-owner of Minnesota Book Restoration - Minnesota Book RestorationMary Bahneman founder-owner of Minnesota Book Restoration & Binding

Mentor and master book restorer Gary Buchner - Minnesota Book RestorationMentor and master book restorer Gary Buchner

Happily, as she began setting up this business in May of 2017, she happened onto book restoration mentor Gary Buchner, who has been in the business of book restoration for over 18 years and was about ready to call it a day. He not only taught Mary everything he knows, but he brought all of his book restoration equipment to the party. These machines are old and expensive to find and buy. So here we have, in our very own North Loop, a terrific book restorer, very hard to find these days.

A Book Press in action - Minnesota Book RestorationA Book Press in action

Drawers of type for hand set covers and pages - Minnesota Book RestorationDrawers of type for hand set covers and pages

Everything is done by hand, from trimming exhausted edges to restoring bindings, refreshing covers, glueing pages, etc. These books come back to life in a miraculous way. The company also makes beautiful blank journals with your individualized or signature cover – perhaps a wedding photograph or a special postcard. The refreshed books and journals are then sewn together and bound for a new life. Gary drops in to teach classes or to help with difficult projects. Apprentice Christopher Bohnet is also on site most days.

Apprentice and helper Christopher Bohnet - Minnesota Book RestorationApprentice and helper Christopher Bohnet

Their sturdy, powerful equipment fills the space. The Book Board, which puts the final covers together, is over 130 years old. The Book Block creates book journals, and then there’s the aptly named Guillotine, for careful edging or large sectional cutting. The process of restoring a book takes approximately four to six weeks, and costs start at $150, depending on what has to be done.

Mary with a terrifying looking machine called the Guillotine - Minnesota Book RestorationMary with a terrifying looking machine called the Guillotine

I looked at pages which had a large tear and could not see it at all once it came through Mary’s magic fingers. “We can do whatever it takes to bring a book back to life,” says Mary. “Once in good condition, your book could last perhaps for another 100 years!” she says.

Mark Twin's Innocents Abroad and Pilgrim's Progress in the midst of major restoration - Minnesota Book RestorationMark Twain's Innocents Abroad and Pilgrim's Progress in the midst of major restoration

A finished restored book - Minnesota Book RestorationA finished restored book

So dig out Mom’s high school annual or Grandma’s ancient photo album and get thee to Minnesota Book Restoration & Binding. Your results will be far beyond expectations. Check out their web site at

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About Merle Minda

Journalist and free-lance writer Merle Minda writes about travel, business, people profiles and other subjects for a number of national and regional publications, including Delta SKY, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Business, Star Tribune, Twin Cities Statement, Minnesota Monthly, and now Mill City Times. She can be reached at or on the web.

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