The Art of Preserving Old Books

Like petrichor, no fragrance can emulate the fascinating scent oozing out of old books. It won’t be wrong to say that this ‘biblichor’ has the power to teleport you in the past. However, to enjoy the visceral existence of old books, it is really important to know how to preserve them.

Be it first editions having high sentimental quotient or the historic tomes that are part of one’s family legacy, you must know how to preserve old books so that their physical state can also transcend time, just like their subject matter.

Protect Them from Direct Sun Exposure

Sunlight is a slow destroyer of cellulose material. So, it is strongly recommended to not leave your valued books in shelves that are directly exposed to the sunlight. The UV content of the sunlight will fade away the parts of the book exposed to it. If you don’t have any other space to stack up your books, then wrap them in the UV-resistant plastic covers. A book with faded cover is not easy on the eyes. Similarly, you won’t be able to get a good price for it in the market.

Protect Them from the Dust

Dust looks harmless for books. However, a book covered in dust is more vulnerable to bug infestation. Regular dusting of bookshelves is the easiest solution against dust buildups. If you don’t use the books too often, then it is better to wrap them in covers to protect from dust. Also, installing glass panels on open shelves can save books from extra dust. While dusting and cleaning the shelves, do not use chemical cleaners, even the softer ones. Books, especially the older ones, can’t hold out any contact with chemicals.

Protect Them from Dry Heat

High temperatures are detrimental to old books. The dry heat in the environment can bring about cracks in the book covers. The high temperatures can also loosen out the bookbinding by making its glue brittle. To preserve old books, store them away from exhaust vents and windows that open to the exterior.

Protect Them from Humidity

Humidity is one of the main detrimental elements for old books. From pest infestation to mold growth, humid conditions can damage a book in many ways. If you are living in a general humid region, then we would recommend you to keep the books where dehumidification is taking place (through an AC or a standalone dehumidifier). Also, try to keep the bookshelves away from moisture sources (leaky pipes and windows) to protect the books from latent evaporation.

Besides these major preservation measures, also take care of the following things while dealing with eBooks.

  • Don’t leave them open and face-down for too long
  • Store books with a thickness greater than three inches in a horizontal setting
  • While pulling an old book out of the shelf, try to grip it from the center

These small things also help in preserving an old book for long.

Writers and Authors is an online bookstore that caters to readers of all age groups by offering books from every writing genre.


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