The process of returning a book to its original condition with varying degrees of success. The entire scope of “restoration” ranges from the repair of a torn leaf, or removal of a stain, to the complete rehabilitation of the material, including such things as de-acidification and filling in losses as well as re-sewing and replacing parts as needed such as endpapers, boards or even the whole spine. Some say this term includes making a whole new cover done in the same period style but really this is more re-binding than restoration. What is the difference between book restoration vs conservation? Restoration, encompasses virtually the entire range of book work—mending, repairing, rebinding, and reconstruction. The difference is mainly in the approach ideology and the amount of paperwork. Conservators document every aspect of the process whereas Restorationist don’t necessarily do this.
The conscious, deliberate and planned supervision, care and preservation of the total resources of a library, archives, or similar institution, from the injurious effect of age, use (or misuse), as well as external or internal influences of all types, but especially light, heat, humidity and atmospheric influences. 2. A field of knowledge concerned with the coordination and planning for the practical application of the techniques of binding, restoration, paper chemistry, and other material technology, as well as other knowledge pertinent to the preservation of archival resources.
The above definition of Book Conservation is taken from: Bookbinding and the Conservation of books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology by: Matt T. Roberts and Don Etherington
Conservation differs from Restoration in that it aims to preserve and clarify what survives,
Book repair is not restoration and it is not conservation. Repair is an “improvement” made to a book that is focused on the functionality of the book. It is a visible change that is typically unsubtle and un-matching . Yet it may be the only viable alternative for a relatively unimportant book. And if done well , it can look very nice, clean and neat, but it could never be mistaken for an original binding. Sometimes this is all that is needed. It is always cheaper.