Tappin Book Mine - Caring for your Books!Book Care for Bibliophiles.
Presented by Tappin Book Mine
With a special emphasis on the Subtropical Bibliophile's Problems
we offer the following suggestions based upon our 20+ years of Bookselling in Northeast Florida.FUNDAMENTALS OF BOOK CARE.
- Read your books with clean hands.
- Don't eat or drink around your books. (Well, be careful then!)
- Don't lay books face down to keep your place, use book marks. (We give 'em away, FREE!)
- Don't loan your books. Learn how to say "NO".
- Store books upright on the shelf.
- Don't write in your books. See Identifyingyour books.
- Put your dust jackets in DJP (Dust Jacket Protector)
- Don't use books as coasters. Insult people who do.
- Keep books from sunlight and other ultraviolet sources. See (Shelving)
- Clean your books every year or so.
IDENTIFYING YOUR BOOKS.Don't write in your books. Not in Ink, at least. Don't even put your name and/or address in 'em. It is a fact of today's 2nd hand and antiquarian book market that even a neatly written ink name in a book will reduce it's value significantly. If we're talking about modern first edition FICTION, then all but the most valuable will be rendered virtually unsalable as collectables if they are written in.
If you already have put your name in them, do nothing.
DON'T BLOT OUT WRITING WITH A MAGIC MARKER OR PEN, OR WHITE OUT OR ANYTHING. It's kind of like trying to take scratch out of your car's fender with a blowtorch and a hammer. The damage is done, don't make it worse.
If you feel you must write in your books, use a number one pencil (SOFT). Let's be realistic. The best you can hope for by putting your name in your books is that an honest person who borrowed it will pick it up and see that it's yours and will return it to you. (Yeah, and I bet you believe in the tooth fairy, don't you?) A dishonest person isn't going to return it just because you wrote in it in ink, and an honest person will respond to a pencil message just as well as a crippling ink message. "Wait a minute, " you ask, "they're my books, and I don't really care about the resale value!" Ok, you're right (or write, as the case may be). But if you insist on indelibly marking your ownership in your books, then at least do it in the time-honored, trAdditional way. Use a custom designed and printedBookplate
Bookplates OK, you've decided that you want your books marked as YOURS. Indelibly.
Use a bookplate to label your books. Generally, bookplates devalue collectable books significantly, but, In my opinion, not nearly so much as direct writing in the book. Not every bookseller will agree with that, but I think most would agree with this: DON'T USE THE READY MADE BOOKPLATES FROM YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE. Instead, you might as well scrawl your misspelled name into the book with magic marker (don't do that, I'm being facetious).
Design your own bookplate, or hire a graphic artist to design it, and get it printed by a competent printer. Don't try to micro manage a competent graphics designer. Give them a general idea of what you want, and let them go at it. There was a time when I suggested you design and print your own using your PC and Printer. However, I have seen such homemade travesties in books in recent times, that I can't in good concience recommend that path. Have a professional custom job done. Anything less merely proclaims that you don't care. Bookplates are the traditional and proper way to identify one's books.
Take your time. Look at other bookplates and get an idea of what's been done. In my opinion, an ugly, CUSTOM designed bookplate is better than a mass-marketed design that's been used by a thousand book owners. In this, there is nothing so banal as repetition of the same tired images and motifs.
If anyone knows of any good bookplate oriented home pages, I'd appreciate it if you'd send me the URL.
SHELVING YOUR BOOKS.Buy shelves big enough so that your books will stand up and clear the shelf above. Get shelving deep enough so you have some space behind the books. Keep the books away from outside walls, especially un-insulated walls.
Position the shelves so that direct sunlight doesn't fall on them. FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE DON'T STORE YOUR BOOKS ON THE SUN PORCH. It's a great place to read, a terrible place to keep your books. Why do you think Medieval Libraries were dark? Did you think they didn't know how to build windows?
If your books take such a low priority in your life, that you'd even CONSIDER storing them in the garage, then you've got no business reading this. Put something less important on the porch or in the garage, like your spouse, or grandmother.
Turn on the air conditioning. Keep in on.
Why Air condition books? Books are all "organic"(carbon based compounds). They are made from paper & cardboard and cloth. These things, especially the paper, usually contain chemicals(such as lignin, natural to the wood fiber) that will turn to acid over time. The rate that these acidify is proportional to temperature and humidity. The higher the temperature and more available moisture, the faster they will acidify. Also, wide variations in temperature will greatly hasten the decay of books. Air Conditioning is a thermal flywheel, and irons out these destructive ups and downs. Do you spend a fortune to live oceanfront so you don't have to run the AC most of the time? Good for you! BAD FOR YOUR BOOKS. We've been buying and selling books at the beach for over 20 years and I've yet to see books uniformly well preserved that have been in an ocean front dwelling for more than a year or two.
Storing your books.OK, you've reached the point where you can't fit all your books into the available shelving. Buy more shelving. No money? No room for more shelving? Sell 'em. Pick out the good ones and sell 'em to me.
You don't want to sell your books? Then, I guess you'll have to store them.
The first thing you'll have to do, is box the books. Get small boxes. The smaller the boxes, the easier they are to handle carefully. Additionally, there is less stress and strain on the books in a small box. If you're in a area where bugs are a problem, better read the section entitled vermin, first.
Pack the books snugly, but not tightly in the boxes. NEVER STORE BOOKS SO THAT THEY ARE ON THEIR FORE EDGE OR SPINE. The best way is to stand them upright, just like on the shelf. This is not always practical, however, since there will be room left in the top of most boxes. If you leave the top empty, then the box may be crushed when you stack others on top. There is a temptation to lay books flat on top of the upright ones, but this will warp the top ones unless the upright ones are all pretty close to exactly the same height. The alternative is to lay all the books flat in the box. If you do this, be sure that they are laying square, and not twisted in there bindings.
Seal the boxes with good tape. Keep in mind that most cardboard is made from kraft paper, and there is no effort made in manufacturing to remove the components that will acidify over time. Therefore, a box is a kind of chemical time bomb, as far as books are concerned. The longer they are in the same box, the more the acid accumulates in the inside and walls of the cardboard, and the faster your books will yellow and brown. You seal it to keep out the vermin, and to keep in the acid. Horns of a dilemma, huh? That's why I told you to sell the good ones to me.
Where to put the boxes.
- Bad Idea. Insects and no air conditioning.
- Same as Garage. Bad, bad, bad. Much worse, temperature wise.
- See Garage.
- Mini-Storage, Climate controlled.:
- Ok. But some of the worst book disasters I've seen were from so-called Climate Controlled mini storage places. How can you check the reliability and maintenance of such a place? If you put books in storage, get the boxes off the concrete floor. They will absorb every bit of moisture they can from it. Use storage shelves, or put pallets down first. The trick is to try to get air to circulate ALL around the boxes.
- Storing in the house:
- Put the books back on the shelf? Ok, I know. Put the boxes in the closet, and hope that there no plumbing in the back that can or will leak.
- I love Florida. I hate bugs. Especially cockroaches. They eat books. They love books. Most better bookbindings are Cloth, and the cloth is filled with Sizing, to smooth it. The sizing is paste, usually made from wheat. Roaches love it. So do silverfish. Did you ever wonder how those ragged spots of rough cloth got on books? Yup, it was Roaches or silverfish. They don't just survive on a diet of books, they thrive.So, keep your house or book room insect free. Otherwise, you're just going to feed the bugs. The bugs will thank you by eating your library.
The best way I know of to combat insects is to keep the place clean and air conditioned. If you need to take an active approach to fighting an existing infestation, call in a professional exterminator.
The only home do-it-yourself products that I believe to be effective are the boric acid powders. Don't put it on your books. But you can put it around the books. Use a good brand name. Even though the cheap ones might be chemically identical, they won't necessarily work as well. The better powders are ground more finely, which allows them to cling to the insect carapace more effectively, and that is what kills the bugs.
- Mice and such also love books. They don't exactly eat them, they just gnaw at them, to keep those rodent teeth ground down. Keep your books rodent free.
- If you've get termites in your books, you've got bigger problems than I want to think about.
Another suggestionMove to New York. It's much easier to care for books there.
Dust Jacket ProtectorDust Jacket Protector. We call it DJP. It's that clear plastic that you see on library book dust jackets, and on nearly every dust jacket in the Tappin Book Mine
It is the single best and most economical way to protect your books from wear and tear. It's relatively cheap,too. We sell it, we even put it on for you, but it's so simple to put on (NO TAPE OR GLUE), that just about any one can do it well in less than two or three minutes a book.
To order DJP from us, call us toll free at 1-888-246-1399 or to order via the web, click here.
Cleaning your Books.CAREFULLY remove the dust jacket. Use a good feather duster, and while you tightly hold the book closed and upright vigorously but carefully dust off the top and edges. Put the dust jacket back on.
How to not Loan books.Just say no. Definitely simple. Not always easy. In the interest of preserving friendships and maintaining peace in the family, here are some suggestions on how to back up a "No" reply to the question , "may I borrow this book for a few weeks?"
- Act throughly stunned when the dreaded question is posed to you. If in fact the book in question is of little value or importance to you, go ahead and loan it, but do it so reluctantly and with such obvious angst, that in the future the borrower will not be amazed when you decline to loan a book.
- Say no with a short laugh as if the request was so obviously tongue in cheek as to not be worthy of a discussion or apology.
- Act a little wierd all the time. People are a little afraid of that, and are less likely to ask you for favors in general. This is a popular and successful technique used by sailors to keep officers in line. Works pretty well. Keep in mind that after a while the acting becomes the normal behavior, so think about how you're going to do this in advance.
- Offer your toothbrush instead. Keep an old one around just in case the would be borrower says ok.
- Keep loaner copies around of your favorite books. This serves the dual purpose of protecting your good books as well as recruiting more potential collectors of good books. The long term effect is to enhance the demand and value of your good books. It is also good for booksellers.
Comments or suggestions about book care in Florida (or elsewhere)?
email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated on 08/21/2003
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