The Book Doctor Repairs History

Experts make sure history isn't forgotten part of the past.

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It takes a gentle touch to fix history and after 17 years, "The Book Doctor" in Bishop Arts continues to repair the written word.

Candice McKay bought the shop two years ago and will tell you the stories behind the written ones they fix are the most interesting.

“It’s fun. It’s always nice to hear the stories. It’s nice to see what people have,” said McKay.

Restoration experts repair anything from bibles to children’s books.

Most here have a degree in art history that engenders a natural interest in what came before them. It’s also an education in how much society has changed since some books were published.

“In early cook books, we don’t cook that way anymore, thank goodness, and some of the early 20th century kids books are really dark. It’s a really strange period in children’s literature,” said McKay.

To all the workers, re-discovering what’s worn is meaningful.
“You get attached. I think everyone here takes their work pretty personally,” said McKay.

Restoration artist Karen Cangemi’s job is sometimes time travel. While she is a custodian responsible for the gentle touch, she is also a tourist through time.

“This is the Texas Almanac of the Eighth Legislature of Texas from 1860. It’s a really, really interesting Texas history item,” said Cangemi.

Through careful cleaning, soft scrapping and light lifting she finds what’s truly underneath.

“I have deep appreciation for everything I work on because, you know what, if it’s not old and rare, but it was special and sentimental to someone and it had great meaning for them and it’s amazing.”

Cangemi is performing what’s called a "re-back." It’s when she makes a new cover and puts the old spine, with original work and etching, right on top. To her, books are more than words.

“For me, it’s part of a mission. When I give a book, I’m trying to save somebody’s life. I guess. I don’t know. Because books change lives. I have a little problem giving books as gifts even probably when people don’t read. I just gave a book to someone and inscribed it 'You need this book even if you never read it.’,” said Cangemi.

It’s a part of an enduring appreciation shared around the shop for what was and what will be, as they all make sure history doesn’t become a forgotten part of the past.

“You know I think about that almost everyday because a lot of people do this for a hobby. So, I feel very fortunate and very blessed that I get to do it,” said Cangemi.

The Book Doctor
310 West 7th Street
Dallas, TX 75208-4639
(214) 946-1760‎

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