How To Protect and Preserve Your Books For Longer Shelf Life

Despite the growing interest in ebooks, many readers want to hold a book in their hands and feel the paper between their fingers as they turn the pages. Libraries still enjoy a lot of traffic, but consumers also continue to add books to their shelves at home.
The source of those books has changed recently, however, especially with the downfall of Borders Group, Inc. Between the fourth quarter of 2010 and 2011, books sales at chains fell from 36% to 30% while online retailers rose from 31% to 39% during the same period. Everyone who cruises the web to order books online is part of the growing trend in online book purchasing (refer to No-Q-Store).
Consumers who buy new books and especially those who have old favorites at home that they want to keep for a long time need to know how to best protect and preserve these volumes. Here are some guidelines on how to keep a personal library safe and in the best condition possible.


Books in Use

Anyone who has books around the house or office for everyday or occasional use should keep them out of direct sunlight and away from blowing heat from a furnace, radiator or heating vent. Bookmarkers should be used to mark pages and books should be left to lie flat or stand upright on a shelf when not in use. Dust jackets should be kept on books at all times.



Book Dust Jacket
Book Dust Jacket



Storing Books

Before each book is packed, it should be cleaned and checked for the presence of paper clips, pressed flowers, bookmarkers and other items that may cause the pages of the books to tear, stain or wrinkle. Magnetic dry cloths are available to help remove dust and dirt from books before they are packed.

Books can be placed in sturdy small or medium-size boxes that have not been used to store food or in plastic storage containers (polyethylene or polypropylene is preferable). To prevent warping, books should be packed standing upright or lying flat with the paper edges all facing the same direction. A piece of butcher paper or a paper towel should be placed between the books to prevent the accumulation of dirt or other debris. Use of plastic wrap or plastic bags is discouraged because they can attract moisture and lead to mold or mildew buildup.


Book Groups Boxes
Book Groups Boxes



If the books are lying flat, the heaviest volumes should be placed on the bottom. Books of a similar size should be put together. Any extra space in the box can be filled with packing material or acid-free paper.

Stored books are best placed in an environment that is well ventilated and not subject to dramatic temperature changes or humidity. To avoid possible water damage, boxed books should be arranged on shelves or raised platforms. Boxes or containers should be stacked only two to three high so the accumulated weight does not damage the volumes.

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