At Decor Books we understand the importance of keeping your antique, vintage and retro books in prime condition. We believe that books are wonderful and special and aim to make sure that they are around for generations to come. After ordering your books by the foot or books by the metre handle all your books gently to ensure keeping them in the best condition. Please keep in mind that books printed from the mid-1850’s onwards were usually printed on mechanical ground wood pulp paper, which has a high acidity and can quickly degrade if not kept acceptable conditions.
A few tips to ensure that your book wall or instant library stays intact over the generations:
Do not pull a book by the top of its spine to take it from the shelf, the spine is the most delicate part of a book and is also the main structure that holds a book together. At Decor Books, we generally deal with antique and vintage English bindings which are known for being well made and long lasting.
Use a book mark! Leaving your book face down and open will cause unnecessary stress and wear.
Large heavy books are best kept flat. Many of our Folio Books and Leather Books fall into this category.
General size books should be kept on shelves upright at 90° to ensure that the books are supported on either side. By keeping the books upright, this prevents the covers becoming warped and mangled. This is one of the reasons that we sell books by the foot – to have each book support one another!
Avoid packing the books in too tightly or the covers will be damaged when you remove the books from the shelf. Lightly arrange your books so that they can be pulled out with the ease of one finger.
Avoid displaying your books in direct sunlight which will eventually bleach out the spines. On the other hand try to avoid keeping your books by the foot in an attic or cellar where there is limited air circulation.
Keep your books away from heat sources. Items such as radiators and log fires can dry the books and make the glue in the spine brittle. The heat also causes any leather binding to dry and weaken, causing cracks and splits. On the other hand, at low temperatures or damp conditions, condensation can invite mold growth can weaken and irreversibly stain books and paper.
Books can also attract pests such as mice, and insects such as silverfish and bookworms, which will leave traces of droppings and a dusty residue. It is for this reason that maintenance of where you store your books are important. If they are used for a book wall or instant library then this should not be a problem.
If you have loose covers or boards on a binding, don’t try to repair books yourself. Instead leave them as they are or use cotton tape tied around the top and bottom of a book. All other adhesives will over time damage and discolour the book. If you are thinking of having a book repaired, it can be an expensive process which can cost more than what you paid for the book. Whatever you do decide, it is better to leave the book alone in its damaged state rather than carry out DIY repair.
Should your books be unfortunate enough to get wet, then there are some measures that you can take to limit the damage:
Stand the book on its head with absorbent cloth underneath. If the book cannot stand alone, support it with bookends. Put absorbent paper inside both front and back at this stage do not try to separate the pages, as they are prone to tearing. Change the absorbent paper underneath the book, and inside the covers. Also, alternate the book from head to tail replacing the absorbent paper, when the water is no longer absorbing fluid and you can safely but gently open the pages, place the absorbent paper every 10-20 pages, changing the paper as often as the paper gets damp. Once the paper is no longer absorbing but the book is still lightly damp open the book and fan the pages to let the air circulate and dry. Do not apply extra heat, but instead let the book dry naturally in a warm area. When almost dry, lie the book with an absorbent paper between the front and back cover and apply a weight to the top, this will stop any warping and help the book regain some of its original shape. Leave the weight in place until the book is totally dry.