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The last old-book restorer in Saigon

Nestled in a small alley on Ly Chinh Thang Street in District 3 is the book restoration shop of Mr. Vo Van Rang, 60, who has worked here for more than 40 years.

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

Once visiting a friend who worked as a book restorer, Mr. Vo tried and felt suited for this kind of job. He apprenticed and then opened a shop, and still works today.

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

"The books that people bring for restoration are often valuable ones with many memories of their owners. Although these books can now be bought in stores, the value of time and memories with its owners is priceless," Mr. Rang said.

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

Every day he repairs about one to two books, which have lost margins, or are chipped or wrinkled ... and he glues and corrects them. Depending on the degree of damage, the fee for the restored books is from several ten thousand to about VND100,000 per book. He works slowly and carefully until it is completed. "This job has to be meticulous, patient, and cannot be hasten," he said.

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

The book repairer's leg has been paralyzed since childhood, so book restoration is suited to his health. "There is no savings in this job, just enough for a living," Mr. Rang said with a smile.

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

He said in the 1960 -70s, Ho Chi Minh City had about a dozen establishments restoring old books. But in the era of development, people read new books more and more, so the establishments also lost little by little.

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

Mr. Rang cuts paper to make covers for old books.

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

'I love books so it's natural to do this job. People who bring books to repair are very kind because book readers are calm and tranquil,'' he said.

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

Mr. Rang stops working at 4pm every day, and for the rest of day he watches TV, plays the piano, and has coffee with his friends.

 

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

Mr. Rang said that mostly old books such as Du Dia chi (brief history of Vietnamese geography and nature, Viet Nam su luoc (a brief Vietnamese history), literature and education books, yearbooks ... are brought to repair because they are associated with the owner’s memory.

 

 

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

Many old, nearly unreadable books are still brought for repair.

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

The books are restored to finished products.

Người phục chế sách cũ cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn

Ending a tired working day, Mr. Rang watches TV to entertain himself at home.

 

T. Tung

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