If you are someone who treats your books like a treasure, then there are chances you are most likely paranoid about your books turning yellow. You know there is this game wherein they ask you what would be the one thing you will save in case a fire breaks out at your place? Well, I can’t think of ‘a thing’. I will either save all my books or burn to death with them. I might have exaggerated that a little bit up there, but for book lovers, their books are everything. We want to keep our books safe and protected. But there is this one inevitable process that we cannot keep away from happening to our books, and that is – yellowing.
Tips to Prevent Books from Turning Yellow!
Well, it’s basic science, you see. Paper is made out of wood that consists of cellulose and the wood component lignin. Now, lignin and cellulose, both the components are prone to oxidation. And oxidation, in turn, is responsible for the paper to turn yellow and eventually brown.
However, there are some tips that you can use to store your books in a way that will delay the inevitable process of them turning yellow. So, let’s begin!
Your books hate sunlight: Honestly, I find it absolutely appalling that so many people believe in this myth that basking their books in the Sun will keep their books safe and protected from turning yellow. Let me just break this news for you right here – SUNLIGHT WILL KILL YOUR BOOKS! So, please don’t be cruel and stop basking them in the sunlight anymore. Sunlight emits ultraviolet radiation, which is absolutely hazardous to paper. In fact, even electric lights aren’t very safe for your books. Libraries and museums that store ancient and rare books, they keep those precious books in a room with UV Filters. Now, obviously, we can’t install UV Filters because they are pretty damn expensive. So, just keep your books inside the bookcase when not reading. And make sure the sunlight doesn’t reach your bookshelf. That will be enough to protect your books from turning yellow.
Controlled circulation of air: Now, the atmosphere is both good and bad for your books. I’ll discuss the good part here, leaving the bad part for the next point. So, there is this process called ‘off-gassing’. Off-gassing is basically a process of giving off harmful chemicals in the form of gas. And books and wooden bookshelves go through the process of ‘off-gassing’ quite a lot. Obviously, these gases are not good for your books because these gases pique the yellowing process. So, just make sure that there is good air circulation in the room where you have kept your bookcase. If you can fix a fan in the direction of the bookcase, then that will be extremely effective in keeping your book safe from turning yellow.
Humidity is just as bad as Sunlight: In the previous point, I told you that air is both good and bad for your books, right? So, the bad thing about air is that air carries moisture. And paper is really good at absorbing water out of the air. Water rapidly escalates the deterioration of paper. So, humidity is extremely harmful to your books. Now, the ideal humidity percentage ranges from 30 to 50 per cent. So, try to keep your books in a controlled humidity situation.
Consistency in temperature: Too many fluctuations in temperature is detrimental to paper. Especially heat! Heat is very bad for books. But if the temperature keeps fluctuating, your books will turn yellow and have stains very quickly. This is why it’s said that you shouldn’t place your bookcase in an air-conditioned room. Instead, keep your bookcase in a moderately cold room that is also dry at the same time.
Use lining paper: I told you earlier that wooden bookshelves go through the process of off-gassing, right? So, a great way to protect your books from these harmful gases is by placing protective lining paper on the bookshelves and then keeping your books. The lining paper works as a barrier between the wood and the books, therefore, keeping your books safe from turning yellow. You will find lining paper easily at stationery shops or even at shops selling different kinds of fabrics.
Divide and rule: Yes, you have to play the role of a divider to keep your books safe from turning yellow. Separate those books that have already turned yellow from the rest. The books that have turned yellow are most likely off-gassing really bad, and you wouldn’t want the rest of your books to absorb those harmful gases, right? So, just separate the yellow books, and keep them on a separate shelf or if necessary, keep them in a separate bookcase altogether.
Say no to pirated books: It’s one thing to buy a second-hand book, and it’s a completely different thing to buy a pirated book. Second handed books are most probably going to be yellow, and that’s completely okay. Old books have a very distinct appeal to them. So, it’s okay if you love buying second-hand books. Just keep them in a different bookcase, as mentioned earlier. But, please for the sake of dear lord, stop buying pirated books. Pirated books are tempting because they come cheap, but that’s only because they are always made out of bad quality paper. And therefore, they end up turning yellow way too fast. So, say not to pirated books if you want to protect your book collection from turning yellow. You may also love to read how to find if a book is pirated or authentic?"Pirated books are tempting because they come cheap, but that’s only because they are always made out of bad quality paper." Click To Tweet
Acceptance is key: Like everything else, books age too. And it’s an inevitability that we cannot avoid, just like death. So, why worry about something that we have no control over, right? Try all these tips that I have shared above, but do make sure that you do not end up obsessing over your books turning yellow. In fact, try to love your books even when they turn yellow. Change your perspective instead. A book that has turned yellow shows that it was loved, and read. It carries your memories. And just like wine, the older your books get, the better they are. Trying to keep them new is like defying the natural process of ageing. So, accept that just like us human beings, books turn old too. It’s only natural.
I hope these tips will come handy to you. Personally, I maintain my own home library in consideration with these tips and hacks. So, I am sure your books will benefit from these tips as well. Do tell us in the comments if you know any other effective tips to protect books from turning yellow.