TO BIND OR NOT TO BIND, that is the question. “Essentially it’s a matter of restoration or preservation,” says Darren S. Winston, manager of the fine and rare book department at Asprey (212.688.1811, 800.883.2777). Winston serves as both appraiser and adviser to collectors of rare books who are considering re-dressing their literary treasures in custom-made bindings. Prices for Asprey’s bespoke bookbinding start at around $1,200, depending on the amount of leather inlay, gilt, and other handmade details. Not every book is suited for a custom new jacket, however, explains Winston, who notes that some books can actually lose value when rebound. The secret is in knowing the difference between an old book and a rare book. “If a client had a first edition of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and he wanted to gussy it up, we would advise him not to, because in its orginal state it currently sells for $150,000.” In such cases, Asprey can instead create a custom box in which to store the book.