From the Experts at Brodart Book Supplies
There are many easy, fun ways to protect, clean, repair and store your books to make them more valuable. Old books require more of this care and repair than new books, so we’ll concentrate in that area.
You can find most of these products in your own home or through Brodart.
I want to remove a label from a book, and I have run out of un-do Label Remover.
- Try using a hair dryer. It can be effective in removing price tags or anything that is glued to paper. Set it on low-heat. And if your book gets wet, the hair dryer can be a valuable emergency tool for drying. Some find it effective on beginning mildew.
I am a Florida bookseller, and mildew is a problem with me though I keep the air-conditioning going? Any tips for me?
- Mildew, also know as mold, can destroy a book and it can spread. Webster defines is as “a furry growth on the surface of organic matter”, and indeed your book is made of organic matter, made from materials which were (formerly) alive.
The dry cleaning pad is helpful against mold.
The fungi thrive on moisture and heat, so the air-conditioning is a good idea.
I’ve heard that Vaseline can be useful in book cleaning. Is this true?
- Vaseline is petrolatum, (petroleum jelly), and it can be useful. A dab of it on a soft, clean cloth can often get rid of smudges on dust jackets. Wipe it on, then wipe it off with a cleaning agent like a document cleaning pad. Bookseller folklore has many household products for book care, such as nail polish remover and lighter fluid, but as a rule they are not worth the inconvenience.
What is an "art gum eraser"? Isn’t any eraser ok?
- Experienced book people divide rubbers into plastic, art gum, and kneaded,
and we will touch on the differences later.
But the basic tool is the art gum eraser, and it is a must for any seller or lover of books.
These large, soft erasers are to be used gently on pencil marks, dirt on dust jackets and covers, etc. They crumble easily, and the crumbs should be whisked away. The important thing is that they do minimum damage to your book.
And keep them clean. Cut away any black surfaces, or get rid of them by rubbing on blank paper. You will find art gum erasers from Brodart.
Is there any way except taping to close (repair) a torn page?
- If you do not wish to use any of the thin, acid-free tapes we market, like Filmoplast Tape, you can glue the tear shut.
- Rest the torn page on a sheet of wax paper.
- Run a line of acid-free glue, such as Brodart’s Bind-art adhesive, along the tear, using a fine paintbrush cotton swab, or toothpick.
- Wipe away any excess glue with a cloth.
- Place a second piece of wax paper on top of the tear.
- Close the book, squeeze to apply pressure, and rest flat. Put some books on top for continued pressure for a few hours.
Do books require more care than, for example CDs, DVDs, etc?
- Books are made mainly of paper, cloth and glue, and other organic materials. They come from live sources, like fine furniture. A comparison might be to garments made of organic materials, like silk and wool that require more care than those made from inorganic materials, like nylon.
What can be done for a book that is faded by sun?
- Nothing! If a book is “sunned” (faded) then the damage is permanent, like the skin of old people who were sun worshippers. But just as people can forestall damage by applying a sunscreen, so can a book forestall UV damage with a Brodart plastic cover.
I have many soft cover books from the turn-of-the-century, and their covers are now frail. I am storing them in polyester sleeves and envelopes, but to access them I must remove them and that is weakening the covers. Suggestions?
- You are right in storing frail books and ephemera in acid-free, clear envelopes and sleeves, but have you considered the Brodart "Adjustable Slip-covers"? This heavy-duty vinyl is a clear cover that is sold in exact heights. It is strong, flexible, and provides the protection and support your valuable old soft covers books need. Brodart sells them individually, so you can get a variety in different heights inexpensively. Their main use is for pocketbooks and soft cover books in general. Since they are vinyl, they are not suggested for very long-term use, since they lack the stability of polyester.
I own old books, and they usually are darkened by decades of dirt, dirt so engrained that cloths, erasers, or even Absorene Book Cleaner cannot get them to near their originals colors. Is there not a simple cheap way to get my old boards looking better?
- Clean Cover Gel, a petroleum based product, seems the favorite “Cinderella” product to getting old boards looking good. Put a dab on a clean, lint-free cloth. Test on a tiny part of the board to make sure the colors are fast. Rub along the surface gently in one direction.. Wipe off with clean cloth. Note: Put some paper under the board to make sure the gel does not get on the pages. And be sure and practice this first on some books that you do not highly value.