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Knowledge is Power!

Reading material these days is commonly in eBook format, but there’s nothing quite like pulling a good ‘ole paper publication. And if you’re the type of person who has collected a good number of them, you’ll want to take care of them so they’ll last for a long time to come. Many books have been well preserved for centuries of humanity’s history thanks to proper care and conditions. Correct storage conditions are everything for long book life. We’ll share with you five easy tips from professional booksellers on how to achieve them for storing books, newspapers, and magazines.

Tip #1: Avoid Moisture with Climate Control

Moisture is paper’s worst enemy and can lead to mold or browning of the pages, called “foxing.” The ideal environment for books would be 40% humidity at 65 degrees. This balance must stay consistent and not fluctuate too much in the storage area, otherwise, there’s little point in storing them. That’s why attics, garages, and basements are likely the worst places to store books. It’s much better (and easier) to store them in a climate-controlled storage unit instead.

Tip #2: Position is Everything

Once storing your books is complete, it’s quite possible that they will be left where you have them for months or years at a time. Store books and magazines horizontally rather than upright to protect their spines and not stretch them into a ‘pyramid’ shape. Resist the urge to fill up the spaces and cheat! They will need the airspace to circulate anyway. For newspapers, store them folded up flat in half like a newsstand. Protect newspaper pages with acid-free lining if there are certain articles you would be interested in saving. It’s also a good idea to keep the jackets on hardcover books, if possible. Not only will they help you identify the book, but they will also help protect them from dents, nicks, and scratches. Even rare books end up in the bargain bin if their covers show signs of damage and wear.

Tip #3: Sturdy Storage Containers

Thick cardboard boxes are great for moving your literature collection, but not so much for long-term storage. Boxes don’t allow airspace to flow through the paper and can collect moisture over time. It’s better to store them in sturdy plastic bins or horizontally on a bookshelf instead.

Tip #4: Protection from Dust/UV

Pay attention to the position of the sunlight if the storage area has windows. UV rays aren’t very kind to books and will fade them faster than anything, so keep printed literature away from that sun! Windows facing south will do the most damage. (In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s windows facing north.)

It’s a good idea to dust your books periodically to lengthen their life, and especially if they’re stored open on a shelf. Dust them with a chemical-free duster towards the spines to prevent making scratches and tearing the jacket corners.

Tip #5: Removing Inserts and Bookmarks

Last but not least, it’s worth the time to go through your books and remove any inserts, “dog ears,” and bookmarks. (Yes, even the novels that you haven’t finished all the chapters yet. Sorry.) If you leave them in, they will create permanent indents in the pages and affect the integrity of their spines. If you would like to keep the bookmark with the book, store it in a plastic bag along with the book, but outside it close by. Be sure not to sandwich the bookmarks inside the stacks. Store them next to the stack instead.

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