Saturday, August 9, 2014

'The Care and Feeding of Books'

"There's so much more to a book than just the reading"
~Maurice Sendak

As most of you know by now, one of my favorite places to read is in the bath tub.  I rarely read a hardcover book while soaking because I'm afraid I'll either drop it because  A. a cat, while walking along the edge, will knock it out of my hand, or, B.  I'll become drowsy and let sleep overcome me, resulting in the dreaded 'dropping the book in the water'.  Worst of all, the humidity will ruin the entire book.  So, I usually try to just read paperbacks while soaking.

So, while soaking just the other day, I thought about the care and feeding of hardcover books.  I was entertaining the thought of dusting my shelves and books when I came upon the idea of sharing some tips with my readers....and that means you!

Where do you store your hardcover books?  And what do you do while reading them?  Do you use a bookmark to hold your place?  And are you one of the many who abuse the spines?

Here's what you should and shouldn't do with your beloved books...

1.  While reading, make sure that your hands are clean!  It's important that you not leave dirty, icky finger prints on your cherished books! One of my stepsons (who shall remain nameless) had dirty hands while reading one of my Harry Potter books (first American printing/edition), and I freaked out when I found dirty thumbprints on three of the pages.  If you value your books, and wish to sell them at a later date, dirty marks will bring down the value big time!  Plus, it's just disrespectful, people!

2.  Don't eat and/or drink while reading!  That, I'll admit, is a rule I don't always obey.  I have to have a cup of tea or coffee next to me, but Cheesy Poofs are a definite no-no. See rule #1.  Another rule:  NEVER SMOKE WHILE READING!  The smell permeates the pages and does not go away, no matter what trick you use to mask it. While I'm sorting books, and I come across one that is nicotine-infested, it immediately goes into the recycle bin.

3.  Do not dog-ear/fold the corner of a page to keep your place!  Not only is it not attractive, but it, too, is disrespectful.  Use a bookmark!  It can be a plain piece of paper, or a matchbook cover, or even your winning lottery ticket (just remember to include Book Hog on your list of recipients when you go to cash that ticket!).

4.  When shelving books, don't cram them next to each other! Books need to breathe, but if they are crammed together, it can warp the covers!  

5.  Store books in the right atmosphere!  Never store books in a garage, an attic, or a basement!  They require a relatively dry, clean environment. And don't expose them to direct light!  

6.  Keep your books away from radiators and vents!  See rule #5.

7.  Dust regularly!  No one (especially you!) wants to open a book and sneeze the moment it is opened.  Plus, dust dries out books and the pages become brittle!  We can't have that, can we?

8.  When shelving books, don't let them lean!  If you don't have enough books to fill a shelf, place some in a horizontal stack.  Voila!  Bookend!

9.  When reading a paperback, NEVER fold back the cover!  Not only will it weaken the spine, but you will lose pages!'s disrespectful! Keep the spine healthy, and you'll have many years of happy reading.

10.  Don't write your name in your books!  I cannot stress this enough! If you MUST write your name in your books (preferably on an endpaper), use a PENCIL...and use it lightly!  If you plan on selling your book, the value goes down if your name is written in ink. Although Book Hog absolutely loves the art of book plates, they, too, can lessen the value...unless you're a famous writer.  Then that rule goes out the window.

11.  Before reading a hardcover book, take off the dust jacket and store it in a safe place!  Believe it or not, the value of a hardcover book goes way up when it has a dust jacket.  So, treat it with respect.  A good thing to do is to make your own cover; a paper bag works well, or buy a 'book sock' (elasticized fabric).

12.  If you have an advance reading copy (ARC) and you want an author to sign it, make sure they just sign their name!  Authors 'in the know' will not write your name after their signature  (The brilliant author Chelsea Cain taught me that lesson!). In my opinion (and opinions in the Book World vary), ARC's are the real 'first edition/first printing' of a book, and just the author's signature raises the value.  

I have learned so much about books while taking care of our non-profit's book section. I see the delight in customer's eyes when they spy a book they know is worth a bit of moolah. Even old books with 'foxing' catches their eyes (foxing: age- related spots and browning on vintage books).  The biggest thing I hate is the dreaded mildew/mold! Books with those 'characteristics' are immediately thrown into the recycle bin. It's unhealthy and disgusting!

So, treat your books with respect!  They are there for your reading pleasure, your education, and enlightenment.  

If you treat them well, they'll treat you well!  Happy reading!

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Great post! I do most of those, but do have a habit of putting too many books on one shelf.

My husband, who is not a reader, told me years ago to take the jacket off of the hardbacks when I read them so I wouldn't mess them up.