Books are truly intriguing objects. They connect our physical being to the reality stored within their pages, working with memories, lessons and more, in addition to containing simple stories aimed at children, even intriguing plots with lots of technology, hacking, fantasy and many complex themes. There are several ways to treat and care for books, whether you have a collection of rare works or just want to keep yours in good condition. Learning how to handle, care for and store your books will be very useful for them to remain in the ideal condition for the preservation of their memories, their importance and their quality.
Part 1 of 2: Handling and Taking Care of Books
Step 1. Be gentle and hygienic when handling your artwork
This will prevent damage, accidents, permanent stains and only minimal wear and tear on them. Wash your hands thoroughly before picking them up and do not leave any liquid or food around when reading or storing them to avoid damage.
- Don't use saliva to change pages, use a damp sponge.
- Wear cotton gloves when handling rare, old or fragile books.
Step 2. Remove markers that are too large or thick
They can cause the binding or glue on the spine of the book to weaken, as well as spoil the pages. Finally, the risk of tearing, tearing or damaging pages while reading will be much lower.
- Try using a small piece of string or silk ribbon as a bookmark, avoiding any further damage to the pages.
- Those who prefer to use the same bookmark can put it inside a sterile envelope and leave it next to the book, or inside the booklet.
- It's best not to bend the corner of the page so they don't suffer irreversible damage.
Step 3. Do not damage the binding
Both paperback and hardcover books are bound with an adhesive agent, sewing, or a combination of both; the more you force a book open, the more wear and tear on the spine and binding will suffer.
Be careful when opening hardcover works, as the spine is quite rigid and more susceptible to detachment
Step 4. Turn pages very carefully
They suffer a natural deterioration over time and can become very fragile and “brittle”; be gentle when turning them over so you don't rip, fold or “wrinkle” pages or weaker bindings.
Step 5. While reading, use both hands
This avoids a lot of pressure on the pages and binding. When it's uncomfortable to read it with both, whether because of its fragility, weight or size, place the book on the table or use your lap for support.
- Do not fold books while reading. It's difficult to get them back to their normal shape, and the spine is likely to be heavily damaged.
- You can read a copy of the work if you're still interested in it, but you don't want to make it worse by preserving it.
Step 6. Send rare and fragile books to a conservation specialist
No matter the reason - it may be the first edition of a publication or one for which it has sentimental value - this will be the best option to get a work already damaged repaired.
Book conservation specialists have several resources to preserve historical materials, carry out binding and general repairs. Do a search to find out where to find the service in your city; see this page and this link for residents of São Paulo-SP
Part 2 of 2: Storing books
Step 1. Place books upright on the shelf
Try not to let them get pinched or leaning against each other, as there is a risk of causing structural damage, warping the specimens and causing and other damage. All works of equal size and length must be placed next to each other on the shelf so as not to strain the spine.
- Storing them horizontally also works. Ideally, however, you should put as little weight on them as possible.
- When removing a book from the bookshelf, hold it by the middle of the spine so as not to damage the top or the bottom of it.
Step 2. Prevent them from being directly bathed in sunlight and keep the environment cool
Controlling where they are stored will allow quality to be preserved, as both sunlight and heat and humidity are detrimental to the structure and binding of the book, in addition to the good condition of the pages.
- Moisture can cause mold to develop on books. Those who live in places with high humidity can notice the appearance of these fungi in the works; just wipe with a very dry cloth and let the object be bathed in the sun for 30 to 45 minutes. Remember not to leave it on for more than this time, or there may be a wear and tear on the cover.
- It is best to take the book to a specialist in preserving them, especially if it is very fragile or rare.
Step 3. Keep books clean
Periodically sanitize them to avoid natural wear and tear, increasing the quality of their storage. Dusting reduces the permanent “aging” of the cover and pages.
- Always clean the dust from the copies from the spine and towards the edges so that the dirt does not end up accumulating on the back of the works.
- Do not store books in plastic bags. They need to “breathe,” and the plastic makes it easy for mold to develop and pages to wrinkle. It is recommended to buy a specialized box to store them or wrap them in a cloth with no acidic components.
- Handle important and valuable books with all the care in the world.
- Always store the works in a safe place, free of materials that could be dangerous to them, to keep them in maximum quality.