The Best Ways To Take Care Of Your Favorite Books

Guest post today from Larry Mager, from over at He was kind enough to contact us and offer to write up this handy guide on how to keep your books in great condition. I absolutely advocate these measures for the books you wish to hold onto, be they rare and collectible or your favorite best sellers. There are a couple points that I’d never considered! You should never be afraid to read your books and make use of them as they were intended, but there are ways to avoid the wear and tear that usage might cause. The links within the text refer you to similar guides and informative posts. Thanks, Larry!

As best-selling author Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic”. They take us to other worlds and allow us to grow and expand our minds; they educate young readers and help those of us who are different feel not so alone. For many book lovers, finding room for a home library to house all of those worlds and keep them safe is an issue, but it’s important to take care of these printed universes. Knowing how to properly care for and handle a book may seem like a given, but there may be some wear-and-tear issues that can be sorted out if you know the right trick.

Here are some of the best ways to protect your favorite books and keep them in good shape for generations to come.

Clean up

It’s best to think of your books as priceless, even if you’re just reading a cheap paperback from the local thrift store. Always make sure your hands are clean before you pick it up, and handle the pages by the edges as much as possible so the oils on your fingers don’t mix with the ink.

Keep them safe

Direct sunlight and heat or moisture are death sentences for books, so keep them stored in a cool, dry place, away from windows if possible. The sun is a powerful energy source and can sap the color out of the book’s covers pretty quickly.

It’s also important to keep your favorite books up on a high shelf if you have children. Little ones like to explore and might inadvertently tear pages or spill something on it.

Watch the spine

Avoid opening the book so wide that it cracks the spine. You want the exterior of the book in good shape as well as the interior, so be gentle. It’s also not a good idea to lay the book face down and open to save your place, as this can damage the structure as well. Use a flat bookmark or a slip of paper to mark where you left off. Or, if you have time, just finish the book. You’ll thank yourself later.

Take a break

It can be extremely satisfying to go to bed with a good book and a hunk of chocolate or a cup of tea, but eating and drinking with the book in hand is never a good idea. Take a break for your snacks and set the book aside for a moment so you don’t end up with crumbs or grease stains on the pages.

Take off the jacket

If your book has a dust jacket, it’s sometimes a good idea to take it off completely–carefully–and set it aside while you’re reading. This way, it won’t get damaged or wrinkled while you’re holding the book, and you can slip it back on when you’re done. The dust jacket is often one of the biggest parts of a book’s value.

Shelve correctly

It may sound silly, but it’s very important to shelve your books the right way. Keep taller books together rather than placing a tall book next to a short one; this can cause strain on the spine, as can stacking books on their sides rather than upright. Make sure all the books are aligned on the shelf together for this reason. When removing books from the shelf, pull from the middle of the spine. Never pack books too tightly on a shelf.

Store safely

If you have books in storage, never put them into plastic bags, as these can trap moisture and ruin the book. Instead, use acid-free paper or plain, undyed cloth.

While these tips are great for older books, it’s still important to take care of your favorite tomes even if they aren’t worth much money. For future generations, they’ll be worth much more.

~ Larry Mager  (


(Header photo via Pixabay by CongerDesign)

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