Do you also consider your books your babies? You cannot pick a favorite because you love them all too much? One tiny scratch on your book aches your heart, doesn’t it?
How To Store Your Books?
If your answer is yes, you have landed on the right page. You must read this article if you want a solution to almost any of your book-related problems. Whether you are facing a problem with storing your books or moving out and don’t know how to pack your precious books for zero damage, this article will cover the A to Z of maintaining your collection of books. This will be your one-stop guide for all your worries. So, brace yourself for all the information. You are in for a ride!
1. Temperature Control.
Books are a lot like us human beings. So, if we are not comfortable, chances are that our books are also going through a bit of discomfort. Proper temperature control is significant in the appropriate maintenance of books, especially in the long run. It’s not rocket science. Just keep it very simple. Your room shouldn’t be either too hot or too cold. The ideal temperature to store books is between 16 degrees Celsius to 21 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit). So, for example, if you live in a hot region, you can choose to keep your books in a room that has an air-conditioner. It will ensure that your books are comfortable, just like you!
2. Proper Ventilation Is Vital.
Just like us, books need proper ventilation too. Humidity causes a lot of damage to books. The raw material of paper is cellulose, which is hygroscopic. Therefore, cellulose reacts and responds to changes in humidity levels. Cellulose expands with a rise in the humidity level and contracts with a decrease. Make sure your room has a proper circulation of air. I have learned this the hard way. Many of my books got damaged just because of humidity. Humidity can be detrimental to books. The first sign of damage I found in my books because of humidity was mold growth and fungus. It broke my heart every time I found fungus in my books, especially on my hardcover books. The hardcover spine is prone to fungus growth. Insect activity is another significant danger caused by humidity. I started finding small insects inside my books, on hardcover sleeves, and on my book spines. Not only this, but moisture can also cause binding warping. You will also find stains all over the pages and the sides of the books. It’s heartbreaking to see your precious books decay like that. You may also notice page curling in your books because of dampness. That’s also a result of a lot of moisture in the air. The recommended level of Relative Humidity is 45% to 65%. There can be a 5% minus or plus fluctuation. Now, it’s not possible or feasible for everyone to maintain a steady humidity level. What can you do to protect your books from humidity? Here are a few tips:
✔ Fluctuations are going to be inevitable, given our seasonal changes. However, if you live in a humid region or your apartment tends to get damp, you can invest in a dehumidifier.
✔ Make dusting your books part of your routine. Dust attracts humidity and mildew. So, make sure you are regularly dusting off your books. Don’t just clear the dust from the surface. Dive into deep cleaning once in a while, so there is no dust in any portion of your books.
✔ You can insert acid-free tissue between pages to stop the humidity from destroying the pages. Place the tissue, especially between pages with a picture printed on them.
✔ Storing books in archival storage boxes is another great way of protecting your books from humidity. It’s not possible to keep all your books in such containers. Still, if you have a special edition of a specific book or a book that’s precious and priceless – for a particular reason – and want to protect it from decay, then you can get archival boxes to store those books. Archival storage boxes are readily available online. It may not be the most affordable solution, but it could be your savior if you own an invaluable book!
✔ Make sure a fan is in the room where you keep your books. The fan will make sure there is proper air circulation inside the room.
✔ Temperature control is essential, but try not to keep your books near radiators.
3. Do You Like Dry Skin? No, I Suppose. Well, Books Don’t Like It Too!
Yes, I just told you humidity is the enemy of your books, but so is dryness. Too much dryness in the air can make the book pages brittle and rough. Especially if you live in regions with extreme winters, the dryness of the air can be detrimental to your books. Maybe not immediately, but the dryness will harm your books in the long run. Follow these tips to save your books from dryness:
✔ Try to invest in a humidifier, if possible.
✔ If purchasing a humidifier seems out of budget, you can choose to keep the windows in your room shut, so the dry winter air does not enter the room. Instead, use a fan to regulate the air inside the room itself.
4. There Are No Sunscreens For Books, So Keep Them Away From Direct Sunlight!
You know what direct sunlight does to our faces, right? We should not expose our naked faces to the sun’s rays for many reasons. We make sure we moisturize and apply sunscreen. Sadly though, we don’t have such shields for a book. This is why the next best way to protect our books is to keep them away from direct sun rays. Direct exposure to sunlight can lead your books to discoloration. Especially the hardcover dust jacket! They are pretty fragile and need to be protected from ultraviolet. Not only is the book covers affected by sun rays, but the print on the pages may also fade, which is worse. The fibers in the books are fragile and get dehydrated with extreme heat. The pages may start getting brittle due to the breakdown of the fibers. If your books are exposed to direct sun rays, remove them immediately.
5. Don’t Make Your Books Wish For Sunglasses!
It’s not just the sunlight that bothers the long-term health of our books. Any kinds of high-intensity light are detrimental to books. So, try not to put too many high-intensity lights around your bookshelves. Those lights can also cause discoloration of your book covers and fading of your book pages.
6. Avoid Heated Walls When Placing Your Bookshelf.
When moving into a new apartment, a reader’s first and foremost concern is where they will place their bookshelf. And I am no different. I’ve recently shifted, and the temperature I’m living in shoots up extremely high in the summers. After looking around a little, I finally decided to place my bookshelf against a wall that didn’t get exposed to direct sunlight. Here are some simple tips I wish someone had told me when I moved:
✔ Observe the sun’s movement, and see which walls of your house that get exposed to the sun. Place your bookshelf against the wall that receives the least amount of external sun exposure.
✔ If all your walls are exposed to the sunlight, see which one is exposed throughout the afternoon, and avoid that wall by all means.
✔ If everything fails and you have to place your bookshelf against a heated-up wall, keep a significant amount of space between the wall and your bookshelf, so there is enough air to work as an insulator.
7. Books Aren’t Water Babies.
This is a no-brainer, right? What’s the worst that can happen to your books? They can get wet. So, ensure you don’t keep your bookshelf near windows because your books may get drenched when it rains. But what if your books get drenched? Maybe you were carrying a book in your hand outside, and it suddenly started pouring. Or maybe, you got a little reckless with the water bottle, and all hell broke loose. Well, it can happen to anyone. But what we do after that is what defines us. Here are some ways you can rescue your book in such cases:
✔ First, ensure you place the book in a dry environment as soon as possible. So, if you were in the rain, with a book in your bag soaking all that monsoon goodness, without any delay, pull out the book from your bag and place it on a dry surface.
✔ Use paper towels to blot the excess water. Don’t rub the book cover or the pages. Rubbing will make the paper fiber shred and crumble. It’s an instant way of destroying your books. Instead of rubbing, simply blot the pages softly. Place your book on a solid surface, and keep blotting with pressure and firmness.
✔ Once the paper towels stop absorbing dampness, keep the book open, and switch on a fan. Let the air do its magic.
✔ If your book contains glossy or photographic material, place wax paper between the pages quickly.
✔ Mold growth is speedy, and there is nothing in this world that mold loves more than books. So, if you’re concerned about mold growth, you can put your book inside a sealed plastic bag after drying the books in the air. Then turn the setting of your refrigerator’s freezer to the lowest. If you can turn off the frosting, then do that as well. And finally, put the sealed plastic bag inside the freezer. This will slow down mold growth. After bringing out the book from the freezer, be ready with lots of paper towels and keep blotting. Place a bunch of paper towels in between the pages as well.
8. Food For Thought – Keep Food Away From Your Books.
Going to a cafe to read a book while sipping a hot cup of coffee and munching on a chocolate croissant is considered self-love. But sometimes, this self-love may cause some severe damage to your books. Well, it’s always a good idea to keep your books at a safe distance from food, but life happens, and sometimes when you are already having a bad day, your coffee decides to kiss the surface of the favorite chapter of your current read. And sometimes, when you are so immersed in a book that you forget your fingers are smeared with mayonnaise, you turn over to the next page, leaving a damp, oily fingerprint. Yes, that has happened to the best of us. So, what to do when your book gets stained? There are some simple tips that you can follow to salvage your poor book:
✔ Try to grab a couple of paper towels and start blotting the paper slowly to get rid of the spilled coffee or tea. Don’t scrub the paper. It will tear apart in an instant. Keep blotting until the paper towel isn’t absorbing any more liquid.
✔ Dilute colorless vinegar into the water. 50% vinegar and 50% water. Then take a small ball of cotton, dip it slightly into the solution, and slowly dab it on the stain. Keep dabbing it, and then blot it with a paper towel. The stain may not go away entirely, but it will be hardly noticeable.
✔ Make sure to do a patch test first. Apply a minimal amount of the solution first to check if the solution is somehow affecting the ink on the pages. If everything seems well, try to remove the stains as much as possible.
✔ Let the paper dry under a fan, and if you are worried about the page getting crinkled and curled up, place some paper weights to weigh the paper flat.
✔ If there are oil stains on your book pages, place butter paper on top of the stain, use an iron with the lowest heat setting, and press it over the stained area. Then remove the butter paper and start blotting the stain with a paper towel. The stain may not go completely, but it will get much lighter.
9. Bookworms Are Real. Beware Of Them.
It seems bugs, insects, and booklice love books. Finding insects inside your books is one of the creepiest feelings ever. Even though it may seem almost impossible to get rid of the bugs, there are small changes you can make that will significantly remove bugs from your books. Here are some simple tips:
✔ Don’t leave your books on the floor. I don’t need to explain this because it’s pretty clear that there are so many small bugs that we don’t often see, but they are living their best lives around us. Keeping your books on the floor unattended may attract bugs and small insects. Once they enter between the pages of your books, they lay eggs and create more bugs.
✔ Make sure to keep your books away from food. As self-explanatory as it may be, I know people tend to leave their books on dining tables, etc. Try not to do this; it will help you in the long run.
✔ Books look pretty on tables with round fruit baskets, etc., but fruits attract minor bugs and may also target your books.
✔ Don’t keep your books on old furniture that you may suspect to have termites.
10. Dirty Library Books With Absurd Things Inside Them.
As much as I love libraries and library books, a hundred others would have probably taken the book I am taking from the library. Or maybe you purchased a second-hand book from a vintage store because you thought it was cute. In such cases, you never know in what condition was the previous reader keeping the book. Some people take their books to the loo, and I’m not okay with it. Jokes apart, what to do when you are a cleanliness freak and find absurd things inside your book, for example, chewing gum! Yes, as ridiculous as that may sound, it has happened to me, and it was a truly horrific day. Here are some simple tips to follow for a bunch of strange situations:
✔ Pencil marks are pretty harmless, honestly. So many people love annotating their books. Some people cannot even focus on their book if they aren’t constantly marking and underlining things with their pencils. I sort of fall into that category. Removing pencil markings is simple and easy, but sometimes this simple process can destroy your book. When using an eraser, make sure it’s not an old one. Old erasers end up leaving dark patches. Use a new eraser that’s as fresh edges. Don’t use pencil erasers as well. They tend to scrub off the paper fiber. Don’t rub the paper with the erasers. Make single strokes in one direction. This way, you’ll eliminate the pencil markings without damaging your book.
✔ Ink stains are almost impossible to remove. There are many hacks available online, for example, using nail polish remover, but it’s better to stay away from these half-baked hacks. If you want to get rid of hand-written sentences in your book, or maybe you don’t want someone else’s name on your second-hand book, you can use a correction tape. Use a correction tape only when it’s crucial and you can’t ignore it.
✔ For crayons or wax color doodles in a book, you can use a butter knife or the back of a fruit knife to scrap the color slowly. It may not remove the pigment altogether, but it will help keep the other page(s) safe from the color.
✔ What if you find chewing gum between the pages of a valuable book you found at a second-hand bookshop? Well, it’s hard to let go of rare finds. Here’s a hack for you. Put the book inside a sealed plastic bag and keep it straight inside your refrigerator’s freezer. The chewing gum will harden up, and then you can use a knife to peel off the gum slowly.
✔ Oil patches are one of the most common stains in books. One easy way to get rid of such stains is to use an iron. Place a paper towel on the stained page, and then iron the paper. Then use another fresh paper towel and dab it on the oil patch. Once the oil gets heated, the tissue will quickly absorb it.
11. How To Pack And Store Your Books When Moving Out?
Didn’t I already mention that I recently moved to another city? Moving out is difficult when you have a collection of close to five hundred books. It was hard. I didn’t bring my complete collection to my new home. So, I dived deep into my book collection and picked up the books I could not live without. Like it would physically hurt me not to stay near these books. I then separated them and created a pile. Then I deep cleaned the books and dusted them correctly, especially the edges. I removed the hardcover book sleeves and dusted them properly. Once my books were spotless, then I started packing. So, here are some valuable tips for you to pack your books while moving out:
✔ I’ll start with an essential tip. Ensure the cardboard boxes you’re using to pack your books are clean. Sometimes, the boxes are dirty, and because of so much pressure during transit, the dirt solidifies and settles on book covers. So, try to get new and clean boxes and dust them to double-check their neatness.
✔ You can either place the books flat inside the box or horizontally or vertically the way you stack them up on your bookshelf. No matter what you do, do not lay the book’s spine down. I recommend mixing it up. You can spread some books flat, some vertical – whichever book fits whichever way.
✔ Try not to pack the books too tightly. If the books are packed tightly during transit, they may get bent and torn, especially from the edges. It’s good to have some blank space left inside the box.
✔ Suppose you have any special hardcover edition that is rare and invaluable – basically anything you cannot risk. In that case, I recommend covering the book in brown paper and then placing it inside the box.
✔ Lastly, if you have some bubble wraps left from previous online deliveries, you can put them inside the box. Stuffing bubble wrap in empty spaces inside the package will shield the books – the more shielding, the merrier.
✔ Tape the box correctly, from the top and especially from the bottom.
12. Do You Know What’s More Difficult Than Packing? – Unpacking!
Moving out with an extensive collection of books is difficult, but you know what’s more difficult? Moving into a new apartment with cartons full of books. When changing cities, I thought the most challenging part was packing and sending my books to the transport company, but guess what? I was wrong. The unpacking and re-organization of your books is the ultimate challenge. In this last section, I’ll share tips you can follow when moving into a new apartment:
✔ I’ll start with the most basic suggestion. Don’t procrastinate on unpacking your books. The more time your books spend locked inside those boxes, the more chances of damage will be there. Sometimes, because of pressure and jerking in transit, books may get dented or folded, so in that case, the earlier you bring those books out of the box, the best it is for them. Keeping those books inside the box for a long may lead to mold growth, yellowing, etc. You can learn how to prevent the yellowing of book pages here.
✔ After unpacking your books, let the books rest under a fan for a few hours, and only then go ahead and organize them. They have been packed for a long time, and stuffing them into bookshelves instantly will be detrimental to the books.
✔ I could only bring one bookshelf to my new house, so I had to decide which books would go to the bookshelf and which ones I’d store in an archived box. I chose to put those books on my shelf, which I reached out to read over and over again. Since I am also a content creator, I need a beautiful background, so I chose books with colorful spines, making my bookshelf look vibrant and attractive.
✔ If you live in a small apartment, you can invest in corner-wall shelves. The corners of our rooms are usually ignored. This way, you can use the space and also organize your books.
✔ You can also line up your books on the top rail of your bed’s headboard. It looks very aesthetic. I find this style of organizing books very cozy.
✔ A lot of people store books under their beds too. Especially if you have an extensive collection of books with very little space, you can keep your books under the bed. Don’t keep the books directly on the floor. Cover the floor with a mat or some protective film. Only then place the books.
✔ If you have a coffee table, you can place a bunch of books on the coffee table as well. A stack of four to five books will look quite good.
✔ Wall-mounted shelves are fantastic if you don’t have lots of space in your small apartment. Many options are available online, where you will find quirky shelves at affordable prices.
No one can understand the passion a book lover has for their books. We want to keep our books safe from any kind of damage. Every book we finish has so many memories. I remember places with the books I have read there. I just need to grab a book from my collection, and I am instantly transported to that phase of my life. This is why it is so important to keep my books safe. I try my best to take care of them, and I hope this article helps you take care of your books too.
Sneha Banerjee has been writing for half a decade now. She is also a professional copywriter and has worked for many businesses. She is a voracious reader, and her ultimate dream is to turn everyone into a reader.