Caring for your books
Books have been important to humans
almost as long as language. Books have functions other than the obvious source
of information, these are:-
* Collectors Items
* Works of
* Amusement and Entertainment
* A Record of History (though
not always accurate).
Many collectors buy books for their subject area to
form part of their collection. Often, if they want to read the book, they will
buy a cheaper edition too so as to preserve the condition of their collected
The condition of a book is often made worse by inappropriate
handling. Careful opening and storage can help books to last in their bindings
for well over 100 years.
Since around 1900 hardback books have been
produced with a dust jacket that protects the boards from stains and rubbing.
Colletors value the dust jacket as highly as the book itself, especially for modern first editions. Because of this a
book with its dust jacket could be worth twice as much as the same book without
one. The best way to protect the dust jacket is to wrap it in specialist mylar
plastic wrapping, available from Brockwells when ordering a hardback
How to Store Books
The binding of a book is designed to
stand upright on a shelf. They can be laid flat but the stacking of several
books in this way can lead to distortion of the lower books in the pile. Long
term storage conditions should be cool and dry.
Do not leave newspaper or
other cuttings in books for long periods because this can stain the
How to Open a Book
This applies to all books but
especially to large, thick or old items.
Take the book from the shelf,
avoiding too much dragging. Place the book gently on its spine and on a flat
surface. Using a hand on each side, allow the book to open somewhere near the
middle. Most books will do this naturally. Turn to the place you want by turning
sections of the book over. Never press down on the pages near the joint or force
the boards back beyond the flat position.
How books are
Most books are made from a number of parts which have special names.
First the text is printed on large sheets which are then folded into sections of
16 pages (sometimes fewer for old or large books). Older books often have a
letter printed on the first page of each section to help the binder to sew them
in the right order. In hand binding, the sections are sewn or glued together and
the book spine is rounded with a hammer. End papers have been glued
Then a piece of muslin type cloth, called mull, is glued over the
spine, along with a headband if one is being used. When the Victorians were
binding, they sometimes used old shirt linen for headbands. Next a hollow is
made by folds of paper, one side of which is glued to the spine.
is made from boards which are covered in cloth or leather. The trimmed book is
fixed into the case by fixing the cloth to the hollow and pasting the mull
overlaps and the end papers to the inside of the boards. All the operations have
to be even and precise so that the book stands and lays evenly without any
distortion. The design and construction is simple and robust but will not stand
up to regular heavy handling.
Main part of the book before it is fixed in the case
The outside covers of a hardback book
spine of the book
Blank pages at the front and back
The bottom of the book
The edge which faces the
wall when a book is on the shelf
A page, usually an
illustration, glued in at the title page
Page with the
title printed alone immediately before the title page
of the book
That part which forms a hollow in the spine when
The muslin type cloth that helps to keep the book in
The blank pages which are pasted onto the inside
of the boards
Right hand pages
The back of the
book where the title is usually displayed
Refers to a page, often an illustration, that has
inserted into a book by pasting the inside edge and
attaching it to a
guard or another page.
caused by dropping a book. The effect can be reduced by placing
on a flat surface, cloth side up, covering with a soft cloth
hammering with a light hammer. Frayed corners can be
reinforced by gluing
A means of cleaning cloth or leather using
a diluted form of flour
paste. Never attempt without getting instructions on
how to make up the
paste and how to apply. Never use on gilt.
part of the binding that is used to receive tipped in illustrations.
rebinding, paper used to reinforce the sewn edges of pages.
A tissue weight of paper used (usually) to protect illustrations.
Spots of staining on the pages of a book mostly resembling rust
Dampness and contaminants in the paper are
Discolouration or fading of a book or its pages by
the effects of
sunlight. All books should be kept out of direct
The jacket of a book. Torn or damaged jackets
are nowadays regarded as
preferable to no jacket at all. Using a jacket from
another similar book
to improve appearance is frowned upon by purists. The
appearance of poor
jackets can be enhanced by the use of a clear paper
(Brodart or similar)