For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is November 25, 2020

Making the ‘Good Book’ better: Norris Bookbinding

By Steven Ward

Making the ‘Good Book’ better: Norris Bookbinding

It’s hard for people to just throw away a Bible.

Even when a Bible is ancient, missing pages and falling apart, most owners can’t bring themselves to just chunk their book in a trash heap.

Gib Sproles and his family know about that problem and have been helping out Bible owners for decades.

Norris Bookbinding Company in Greenwood has been rebinding and repairing Bibles since 1947. Although the original owner of the business — H.H. Norris — started his shop with primarily library and commercial rebinding work, the need and demand for Bible repair work became evident.

Norris taught his employees the craft of Bible repair and, before long, other binderies and publishers around the U.S. began sending bible restoration customers to the Mississippi Delta city business.

Today, Norris Bookbinding has an international reputation as the U.S.’s largest Bible rebinding plant. The bookbinding company has served customers from every state and 30 foreign countries.

Gib Sproles, 60, runs the shop today. His father, Charles Sproles, 85 and his uncle, Johnny Sproles were brought in as partners before Norris died in 1967. Charles Sproles worked at the shop since he was 15. The Norris family sold their share of the business to the Sproles family in 1994.

Sproles and his family live in Winona and are members of Delta Electric Power Association.

Sproles said the business has seven employees. All seven rebind the Bibles by hand. The employees — including Gib Sproles — rebind about 300 Bibles a month.

“It takes a few hours to rebind a Bible by hand. There are a lot of steps. Gluing, pressing, resewing — It’s a time-consuming process,” Sproles said.

The average cost of rebinding a Bible is around $125 to $150. Once the books get bigger than 6 x 9, the price goes up, depending on the Bible.

He said people, in most cases, can’t just throw away an old Bible.

“It’s all about what that Bible means to someone individually. They have notes in them, special inscriptions, or they were given to the person by someone special. A Bible can bring special memories to people. It’s a very personal thing,” Sproles said.

Sproles said he’s had people come to the shop with missing and torn up pages in a plastic bag because their dog has destroyed their Bible.

“They are so upset. They just want to kill their dog. But we have someone who will sit down and sift through the torn-up pages. They will use other pages (from other Bibles) to put it all back together again. It happens several times a year,” Sproles said.

He also said unless the Bible’s pages are super dry and brittle to the point of crumbling, they can repair the book. He said a Bible is a “living, breathing book” that has a ”heart and soul.”

“You read it and reread it every day. It’s the only book you read every day. Everybody has a story with their Bible. Folks may have more than one Bible and they don’t mind lending others out or giving some away but everyone has that one Bible — the Bible they won’t part with,” Sproles said.

Sproles added that the work he and his employees do is very satisfying.

“Sometimes, when people first see their Bible after we’re done, they weep. They just can’t believe it. We are in the business of making people happy. It’s a highly rewarding job,” he said.

 

Visit norrisbookbinding.com or call 662-453-7424 for more information.

Site designed by Marketing Alliance, Inc.