Friday, December 15, 2006

What have I done? (And the proper care and feeding of your book.)

I promised the big, little bro (he’s younger but 6’5”) that I will take him and his girlfriend barhopping tonight. The problem with this is a.) I have no cash, b.) I have to work tomorrow, and c.) I actually derive no pleasure from barhopping. I would take them dancing, but I can guarantee any place I want to go to he’ll hate (he’s more country, I’m…not). But basically I’m having third and fourth thoughts about this because his whole goal this evening appears to be getting his older sister trashed and hangovers and customer service don’t mix.

Here’s hoping mildly tipsy and home by one will work for him because I have to work tomorrow, and then make six dozen cookies for the cookie party/ornament war I’m attending on Sunday.


But enough about me, let’s talk about you, specifically the books you may have bought for friends and family that aren’t in the most beautiful, pristine condition. Getting a book in perfect condition is pretty hard these days, they are moved from one box to another, sliding against each other and getting bashed around. Sometimes their box has a run in with a forklift or three. Sometimes they’ve been dropped by the customers or booksellers that handled it before you. All in all books take a lot of abuse, but there are some things you can do to spruce up that outer beauty.

Now everyone knows that you have to keep your books in a temperate, dry place to keep them from yellowing and curling (not to mention they should be stored away from windows), but did you realize you could use Windex to help remove cover scuffs? Just spray a little Windex on a soft towel and wipe the cover off in a circular motion. It will minimize a lot of the cover damage and remove any dirt build up (and since books are stored in warehouses there’s usually some dirt). I’ve heard you can do the same thing with pledge and other dust removal products as long as they advertise as not being too harsh on surfaces.

Bent corners and folds in dust jackets can be fixed by sandwiching the dust jacket between two cloths and using an iron on its lowest setting. The little bit of heat in combo with the pressure will take out the crinkles but you have to be careful.

Anyone else have any useful book care tips?

Other than don’t drop them, that is.

And if you haven't already, go check out the Written Nerd's Blog "New York Bookstores Need A Miracle." I agree with everything she has to say about frontline booksellers and why many people don't claim it as their life-pursuit.


Robin Brande said...

I have never heard those fix-it tips before. Brilliant! Thank you for performing another public service.

Beth said...

Your post reminded me of the days (long, long ago) when I worked in a library. We were taught how to oh-so-gently and carefully open each new book so the spine would not crack. And we made protective covers for each book. All done in the upstairs attic of this quaint little library.
Nice memory - thanks for prompting it.

Book Nerd said...

Bookseller tip: lighter fluid! Sounds weird, but rub some on with a Kleenex or something and it will take off everything from sticker residue to dirty fingerprints from most book covers. It smells flammable for a couple of seconds, but the smell fades and the book is left shiny and new. Don't use it on those "textured", rough paper covers, though - just the smooth ones.

And thanks for the plug, BSC. You're one of my models for frontline bookseller-dom, and your blog is part of my community. Thanks!

quiche said...

I wish there was some way to fix torn bookjackets. We've had to pull several books that were over-handled and had shopworn or torn djs.

Josh said...

I've been wondering about all those journals and bindings that have popped over these past few years--the ones that look like leaves and sticks and other trail-side scrabble all glued together. I'm honestly wondering if these are going to eventually become a bound-together compost.

Lynn said...

To remove adhesive left by stickers on glossy or laminated covers, I use a little non-aerosol cooking oil spray on a paper towel, then lysol spray disinfectant on a paper towel applied to remove any oil residue. Not recommended for plain paper covers or jackets.

Torn book jackets and pages can be repaired with archival document repair tape (available from book binders and specialty art stores) or a small amount of methyl cellulose paste.

Most folks don't notice this unless they're sensitive to odors, but often people who handle books in the stores transfer the smell of their cigarettes, hand lotion or cologne from their hands onto the pages. I detox books like this by leaving them open in a reading stand to sit in the sunshine for a day. Also good for detoxing old books from used shops that have that "yellowed" or mildewed smell to them.

Sheena said...

I swear by eucalyptus oil for getting adhesive or dirt off a book cover, it evapourates quickly and cleans very well. I know this is my librarian side showing but I must admit a cover any paperbacks I value with adhesive polypropelene as soon as I get them home - they live so much longer.

Kirsten said...

Thanks for the book care tips! I received a shipment of books recently that sat outside on my front porch in the rain until I got home from work to retrieve it. To my dismay the books inside seemed beyond gift giving, but I think your tips may help me out!

Anonymous said...

my bf says Windex would be bad for my books... something to do with something in it, would eat away at it in time. But you're right, it's very hard to find books in excellent condition any more. Is a pity.