The library has a case to make for hardcovers. They’re durable, they’re easier to shelve, and they make a satisfying crack when they’re opened. Paperback may be all and well, but when it comes down to the wilds of circulation, paperbacks just can’t rough it. Sometimes, though, hardcover editions just aren’t available for purchase. So when we get a paperback copy in, the book gets flagged in our system to be shipped to a bindery. The bindery is a place of wonder where books go in as paperbacks and come out as hardcovers. The flagged books accumulate on specially-marked shelves until we’re ready to send them out, and then they’re carefully indexed, packed, and shipped off.
While at the bindery, the paperbacks have their softcovers removed completely and replaced with hardcover copies of the original. The newly hardbound books return to Copley Library after about four weeks, along with the shells of the original covers. After unpacking, the books go through the gamut of processing and cataloging and are affixed with the appropriate labels and accompanying electronic records. It’s a dangerous business going out the doors, but now the hardcovers are ready to step into the collection.