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Table of Contents
q 1. General Information About REC.COLLECTING.BOOKS
r + 1.1 What is REC.COLLECTING.BOOKS?
r + 1.2 How Do I Participate?
r 1.3 What Kind of Posts are Inappropriate?
r 1.4 What Kind of Posts are Appropriate?
r 1.5 Where Is the Appropriate Place To Advertise Books For Sale or Wanted To Buy?
r 1.6 How Do I Advertise My Cool Website?
r 1.7 How Do I Cancel a Usenet Article I Posted?
q 2. Sources and Guides To Book Collecting
r 2.1 What Are Some Useful Guides to Collecting?
r 2.2 What Are Some Useful Online Guides to Collecting?
r 2.3 What Are Some Useful Guides to Repair and Conservation?
r 2.4 What Are Some Useful Price Guides?
r + 2.5 Where Can I Find Conservation and Repair Supplies?
r + 2.6 What Software Is Useful To The Book Collector?
r 2.7 Where Can I Buy Book Display Easels?
r + 2.8 Which Reference Works Would You Recommend For Science Fiction, Fantasy, and
r 2.9 Where Can I Find a List of Bookstores in a Particular Area of the World?
r + 2.10 Where Can I Find Out How to Grade the Condition of my Books?
r 2.11 Where Can I Get Information About Small Press Publishers?
q 3. Identifying Books
r 3.1 How Do I Know If It's a First Edition?
r 3.2 How Do I Recognize a Book Club Edition?
r 3.3 How Do I Validate an ISBN?
r 3.4 How Do I Describe the Sizes of Books?
r + 3.5 How Do I Tell If An Autograph Is Authentic?
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r 3.6 How Do I Know If A Book Was Issued With a Dust Jacket?
r + 3.7 How Can I Determine the Real Name of an Author Using a Pen Name?
q 4. The Care and Feeding of Your Collection
r 4.1 What Are Some Tips For The Beginning Collector?
r 4.2 How Do I Protect My Collection?
r 4.3 How Do I Clean My Books?
r 4.4 How Do I Clean The Page Edges?
r 4.5 How Do I Clean Vellum Binding?
r + 4.6 How Do I Remove Pencil Marks?
r 4.7 How Do I Remove a Label From a Book?
r 4.8 How Do I Remove a Label From a Dust Jacket?
r 4.9 How Do I Remove Crayon Marks From a Book?
r 4.10 How Do I Get Rid of That "Musty Smell"?
r 4.11 How Do I Get Rid Of Unwanted Odors?
r + 4.12 How Do I Get Rid of Mold?
r + 4.13 How Do I Get Rid of Foxing?
r 4.14 What Do I Do About Bookloving Insects?
r 4.15 How Do I Care For My Leather Books?
r 4.16 Can I Fix A Cocked Or Slanted Spine?
r 4.17 How Do I Repair a Water Damaged Book?
r 4.18 Should I Remove Rusted Staples From a Pamphlet?
r 4.19 How Do I Halt Paper Deterioration?
r 4.20 How Do I Stop Binding Glue From Becoming Brittle?
r 4.21 How Do I Pack Books When Moving?
r 4.22 How Do I Get My Books Signed?
r 4.23 Should I Rebind An Old Book?
q 5. Book Terminology
r 5.1 What is the Difference Between "First Edition" and "First Printing"
r 5.2 What is the Difference Between "First Edition" and "First Trade Edition"
r 5.3 What does "Second Printing Before Publication" mean?
r 5.4 What is a "Deckled Edge"?
r + 5.5 What Do All Those Book Terms Mean?
q 6. Value Judgements
r 6.1 Are Book Club Editions Valuable?
r 6.2 Do Signatures Enhance Value?
r 6.3 Do Dust Jackets Enhance Value?
r 6.4 How Does a Remainder Mark Affect Book Value?
r 6.5 Are Lower-Numbered Limited Editions More Valuable?
q 7. Miscellaneous Odds and Endpapers
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r 7.1 Who Is Responsible For Shipping Problems?
r 7.2 What Are "The Little Leather Library" Books?
r 7.3 What Are "The Modern Library" Books?
r 7.4 What Are "The Everyman's Library" Books?
r 7.5 What Are "The Little Golden Books"?
r 7.6 What Is The Earliest Known Dust Jacket?
r 7.7 What Are "The Roycrofters"?
r 7.8 What Are "Harlequin Romance" Books?
r 7.9 What Are "Laser Books"?
r 7.10 What is a "Pulp" magazine?
r 7.11 What Are "McGuffy Readers"?
r 7.12 Are "Literary Guild" books book club editions?
r 7.13 What Are "Sample" Books?
r + 7.14 What Are The Different Types of Leather Binding?
q 8. Buying and Selling Books
r 8.1 How Do I Sell Books On The Internet?
r + 8.2 How Do I Find Books On The Internet?
1. General Information About REC.COLLECTING.BOOKS
q 1.1 What is REC.COLLECTING.BOOKS?
r It is an unmoderated Usenet newsgroup devoted to discussion and questions related to all
aspects of book collecting. View the charter at http://www.rcbfaq.com/charter.html for
q 1.2 How Do I Participate?
r The best way is probably using a dedicated UseNet program, such as are bundled with
browsers or available separately. Your internet service provider can provide instructions for
connecting to the newsgroup. [Mike Berro]
r You can also participate in the newsgroup using your browser. Google allows you to read
and post messages to the the newsgroup ("UseNet.") Rec.collecting.books is available at
introduction to UseNet is available at http://groups.google.com/googlegroups/basics.html.
r Google also has a searchable archive of previous messages, so you can see what has been
previously discussed. [Mike Berro]
q 1.3 What Kind of Posts are Inappropriate?
r Want to buy ...
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r For sale ...
r For auction ...
r For trade …
r Visit my commercial website.
r A list of books for sale is available from ...
r All commercial messages are inappropriate for this newsgroup; use
"rec.arts.books.marketplace", or one of the other marketplace newsgroups to post such
messages. [Mike Berro]
r Do not include images or other files in your message. Many people pay by the minute, and
these sometimes take a long time to download. Instead, upload it to a website, and then post
the address. [Mike Berro]
r Messages that use MIME, HTML, or any other format besides plain ASCII text. [Lawrence
r Before participating in Usenet you should make sure that you have read at least the articles
on netiquette in news.announce.newusers.
r More information can be found at; "Usenet Info Center Launch Pad" at the URL:
r and "Learn the Net: An Internet Guide and Tutorial, at URL:
http://www.learnthenet.com/english/index.html. [Jon Meyers]
q 1.4 What Kind of Posts are Appropriate?
r Who else collects ...?
r Where can I find information about ...?
r Event announcements: Fairs, shows, auctions, etc.
r What information about it can anyone tell me?
r About how much is it worth? (Please check the major online catalogues first: see section
r What edition do I have?
r If nobody seems to be discussing what you want to talk about, post a (polite) message
opening the discussion. Don't just say, "Does anyone want to talk about X" or "I really like
X" however; try to have something interesting to say about the topic to get discussion
going. Don't be angry or upset if no one responds. It may be that X is just a personal taste of
your own, or quite obscure. Or it may be that X was discussed to death a few weeks ago,
*just* before you came into the group. [Evelyn Leeper]
q 1.5 Where Is the Appropriate Place To Advertise Books For Sale or Wanted
r news:alt.marketplace.books.sf (speculative fiction)
r Those looking to find or buy a certain book should look at one of the online bookselling
databases mentioned in section 2.4. [Lawrence Person]
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q 1.6 How Do I Advertise My Cool Website?
r Add the information below your "signature". It is considered rude to just blurt out an ad, but
if you join in the discussions people will see the information, and be more interested in
visiting as well.
q 1.7 How Do I Cancel a Usenet Article I Posted?
r Most newsreaders allow you cancel your own message. The exact procedure varies
depending on the software, but usually you simply highlight the message and select "cancel
article" from the menu. It may take some time before the message is cancelled from every
r An article titled How To Cancel An Article That You've Posted is located at
"http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/8211/cancel.html". It covers many (but not
all) the various newsreaders currently in use.
r Recently, ISPs have been disabling the ability to cancel messages, so proofread your
messages before posting them. [Mike Berro]
2. Sources and Guides To Book Collecting
q 2.1 What Are Some Useful Guides to Collecting?
r McBride's A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions (860) 523-7707 or (860)
r Ahearn, Allen. Book Collecting: A Comprehensive Guide. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons,
1995. [Gerard Gormley]
r Bradley, Van Allen. Gold In Your Attic. New York: Fleet Publishing, 19--. [Gerard
r Bradley, Van Allen. More Gold In Your Attic. New York: Fleet Publishing, 1961. [Gerard
r Carter, John. ABC For Book Collectors. New York: Knopf, 1966. [Gerard Gormley]
r Tannen, Jack. How To Identify and Collect American First Editions. New York: Arco
Publishing, 1985. [Gerard Gormley]
r Wilson, Robert A. Modern Book Collecting. New York: Knopf, 1980 [Gerard Gormley]
r Zempel, Edward N. and Linda A. Verkler. First Editions: A Guide To Identification, Third
Edition. Spoon River Press, 2319-C West Rohmann, Peoria, Il 61604, phone (309) 672-
2665, fax (309) 672-7853. [Gerard Gormley]
r Muir, P. H. Book Collecting as a Hobby: In a Series of Letters to Everyman, Knopf 1947.
r Ellis, Ian C. Book Finds: How to Find, Buy, and Sell Used and Rare Books, 1996. [Ken
r Van Wingen, Peter. Your Old Books at http://www.princeton.edu/~ferguson/yob.html, from
a pamphlet for the Association of College and Research Libraries. [Mike Berro]
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q 2.2 What Are Some Useful Online Guides to Collecting?
r The Essentials of Book Collecting at http://www.lucasbooks.com/collect.html. [Mike
r Books and Book Collecting at http://www.trussel.com/books2.htm. [Mike Berro]
r Litera Scripta at http://www.litterascripta.com/. Resources for readers, rare book collectors,
and used booksellers. [Deanna Ramsey]
r I have a URL for Digital Librarian where links to a vast and diverse array of book related
information are available: http://www.digital-librarian.com/bookcollecting.html. [Alana
q 2.3 What Are Some Useful Guides to Repair and Conservation?
r Johnson, Arthur W., The Practical Guide to Book Repair and Conservation ISBN 0-500-
01454-X published by Thames and Hudson, 30 Bloomsbury Street, London England WCIB
r Conservation OnLine [CoOL], Resources for Conservation Professionals, a project of the
Preservation Department of Stanford University Libraries at http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/.
r Here is a Library of Congress website for FAQs regarding the preservation of books:
http://lcweb.loc.gov/preserv/presfaq.html. [John P. Giunta]
r Cleaning and Caring For Books, R.L.Shep, Sheppard Press Ltd, 1982. [Richard Weaver]
r Two good sources of information are http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/ (CoOL--Conservation
OnLine, at Stanford University Libraries) and http://www.solinet.net/presvtn/preshome.htm
(SOLINET's Preservation Services.) [Jon Meyers]
r The Thames and Hudson Manual of Bookbinding by Arthur W. Johnson, wherein can be
found much useful information on bookbinding in general, with a chapter on making boxes
(slipcases, clamshell, etc.). First published 1978, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London. First
published in USA in paperback 1981, reprinted 1992. Library of Congress catalog # 81-
50759. ISBN 0-500-68011-6. It should be available on order from your favorite bookstore.
q 2.4 What Are Some Useful Price Guides?
r Ahearn, Allen & Patricia. Collected Books: The Guide to Values, 1998 Edition (Putnam,
1997). [Jon Meyers]
r Huxford's Old Book Value Guide, Ninth Edition (Collector Books, 1997). Huxford's is a
particularly good value source for low- to mid-priced books and genre fiction, although the
bibliographic information is often sketchy; the Tenth Edition is forthcoming sometime this
year. [Jon Meyers]
r Seaching catalogs on the internet can be useful. There are many places to do so. MX
BookFinder at http://www.mxbf.com/ searches many websites at once. [Jon Meyers]
r Reviews of over 40 book price guides and a few other key reference works are now online
at my web site "http://www.svbooks.com/". [Seth Steingraph]
q 2.5 Where Can I Find Conservation and Repair Supplies?
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r University Products at "http://www.universityproducts.com", 800-762-1165
r Brodart at "http://www.brodart.com/", 800-233-8467
r Gaylord at "http://www.gaylord.com/".
r Demco at "http://www.demco.com/".
r Bill Cole Enterprises at "http://www.neponset.com/bcemylar/". [Mike Berro]
r Vernon Library Supplies at "http://www.vernlib.com/". [Mike Berro]
r Light Impressions at "http://www.LightImpressionsDirect.com". [Mike Berro]
r For the UK, try D&M Packaging at http://www.bookcovers.co.uk/. They stock a range of
book-care materials and supply trade and private customers with no minimum order. [Liz
r Bill Cole Enterprises at http://bcemylar.com/index.html.
q 2.6 What Software Is Useful To The Book Collector?
r FileMaker Pro (Mac and Windows) is a wonderful program. It allows you to start pretty
much right away without knowing an awful lot about the program and then to "upgrade"
your catalog gradually while you learn more about it. Eventually you can create a really
sophisticated databank. I know of no limitations. Best of all, the documents can also be read
by Windows users. [K. Loock]
r Steve Trussel's site at http://www.trussel.com/books/booksoft.htm lists many software
products for both collectors and dealers. [Mike Berro]
r Readerware from http://www.readerware.com/ is great for beginners who will need to enter
a lot of books initially. [LeeF]
q 2.7 Where Can I Buy Book Display Easels?
r I use common plate display holders. The only problem is the curved bottoms, which bends
the bottoms of some books, so I use them mostly for pamphlets (which are otherwise
invisible in a bookshelf.) If I had some skill at woodworking, it would be easy to flatten the
bottoms. The book conservation companies listed in the FAQ have them in their catalogs.
Gaylord has some beautiful plexiglass ones from $120 to $260 each (which is why I use the
nice $4 plate holders.) [Mike Berro]
r I bought some nice plexiglass ones from a book dealer in Chicago. I paid less than $5 each
for them. However, he wasn't really selling them; he said he buys them in bulk from some
company, and uses them in his shop. [Susan Hales]
r Try a kitchen store, or the kitchen gadget dept in most stores like Target. They make
cookbook holders in wood and plexiglass that would be ideal to display your books.
r I purchased some metal easels specifically for books at an art supply store (Aaron Brothers)
for under $5 each. [Mike Berro]
q 2.8 Which Reference Works Would You Recommend For Science Fiction,
Fantasy, and Horror?
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r Clute & Nichols, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 1993 St. Martins, 1370 pages. Hard
back $75. Paperback updated 1995. $29.95. Illustrated CD ROM available from Grolier for
Mac and Windoze. An indispensable reference book on science fiction that contains over
4,300 entries and 1.2 million words. For every reader who loves, uses and wishes to know
more about science fiction, this is the first and most important reference you should get.
Has publication dates and title changes only with no other first edition ID information.
Unlike the 1979 edition, the book is not illustrated and there are no magazine checklists.
r Currey Lloyd, Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of Their First Editions,
1979, G. K. Hall. Covers roughly 215 important authors thru December 1977, reference
citations thru June 1979. Although perhaps the most important, thorough and accurate
guide to identification of first editions, it if far from complete or accurate. For instance it is
very easy to misidentify the first edition of Heinlein's STRANGER IN A STRANGE
LAND by Currey's less than complete description. There are almost no cover/dust jacket
prices or page counts mentioned excepting paperbacks. $75 from author at (518) 873-6477.
r Tuck, Donald, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1974 Advent. Out of
print. A three volume encyclopedia current thru 1968. The bulk of vol. 1 & 2 consist of
short author biographies with extensive book bibliographies which include many authors
and descriptive items not found in the more recent Currey bibliography such as cover
prices, page counts, later and foreign editions. [Shep Iiams]
r Reginald, R. Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: A Checklist 1700 - 1974. Gale
Research. vol. 1 is 786 pages. Perhaps the most comprehensive printed listing of it's kind,
Reginald attempts to identify all first and first thus editions thru 1974, but only contains
date, publisher, page count, hardback/paperback information. No cover price or other
identifying point information included. Includes - by title, series, award, Ace and Belmont
doubles indexes. Vol. 2 Short biographies including original author comments and 32 page
B&W "Pictorial History of Science Fiction Publishing". Out of print. [Shep Iiams]
r Reginald, R. Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature 1975-91: Supplement 1992 Gale
Research $199.00 Attempts to identify all first and first thus editions 1975 thru 1991, but
only contains date, publisher, page count, hardback/paperback information. No cover price
or other identifying point information included. [Shep Iiams]
r Stephens, Christopher P. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Paperback First Edition: A
Complete List of Them All (1939 - 1973). Ultramarine 1991, 8 1/2 x 11 wraps, 144 pages.
$22.95 (914)-478-2522 By author listings with a title index. Includes publisher ID numbers,
cover price, page count, and illustrators. [Shep Iiams]
r Tymn, Marshall B. and Mike Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction
Magazines. 1985 Greenwood Press, 970 pages, $95 A comprehensive critical description of
over 600 main stream magazines, associated magazine-like anthologies, academic
periodicals, major fanzines and non-English language magazines. Critical descriptive
essays are 1/2 to 40 pages. Includes bibliographies of source information and primary
library holdings; a concise publication history with the dates of title changes, size and
format changes, volume data, publisher changes, editorial changes, and issue price. Includes
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index to several hundred major cover artists; and a chronology of magazines started by
year. [Shep Iiams]
r Day, Donald, Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926 - 1950, 1952 Perri Press, out of
print. All major SF magazines but no Horror such as WEIRD TALES. By author and title
with pseudonyms, but no index by index. [Shep Iiams]
r Strauss, Erwin Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1951-1965, 1966 MIT Science
Fiction Society. Author, Title and Issue indexes with a check list of magazines indexed.
r Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1966 - 1970, 1971, ... 1989, beginning 1971 the
New England Science Fiction Association published a number of SF magazine indexes.
Author, Title and Issue indexes with a check list of magazines indexed. [Shep Iiams]
r Barron, Neil Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction 4th edition, 1995, R.
K. Bowker, 912 pages. $55 Contains no 1st edition or price information whatsoever. This is
THE guide of what to read or films to see. Revised and updated edition has concise
summaries and evaluations of some 2,100 works of fiction and over 800 works of non
fiction published from the genre's beginnings to the present. Includes listings of films based
on SF novels and short stories, guidance to books on video and audio tape, public and
private research libraries SF magazines, comics, and art. Excludes foreign language SF.
(See 3rd (1987) edition for most comprehensive guide to foreign SF). [Shep Iiams]
r Inter-Galactic Price Guide 2nd edition. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror by Stephanie
Howlett-West. All data from 1996 thru Feburary 1997. The ONLY current price guide to
books by modern and classic Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror authors. This 8 1/2 by
11, 386 page book has aprox. 20,000 entries. A compilation of 65 catalogs over the year
from 28 different dealers, spiral bound with laminated covers and includes a detailed
introduction. There are multiple listings for many titles. Entries are coded for condition,
signed, inscribed, limited, ARC, Proof, association, etc. Duplicate price entries have been
culled. Cover price $38. [Shep Iiams]
r A Comprehensive Price List of Crime, Mystery, Thriller Detective and Horror Fiction,
1997 edition. By Marshall Snow. Containing over 800 pages and 55,000 entries of different
books in 2 massive comb bound volumes, it is an amazingly complete listing derived from
over 350 different dealers catalogs, AB Bookman Weekly ads, Interloc (now Alibris) and
Bibliofind internet databases. Each book title generally has only one entry with a range of
prices seen for collectible condition copies ie.( $35 - $55), There are repeat title listings for
significantly different issues of the same book, such as signed, limited, ARC, proof or a
seriously skewed high price which could indicate rapid appreciation. Titles are listed in date
published order under the author's name so you can generally see the price appreciation or
exceptions within a linear progression. Inclusion of pseudonyms, series characters and the
books they appear in, makes for the most comprehensive check list available in this price
range. NEW this year is the inclusion of the Horror genre with almost a 50% increase in
size. There is now a separate list of anthologies by title and increased listings of adventure
author's such as Patrick O'Brien, C. S. Forester and Alexander Kent. Cover price $95. [Shep
r I would also add the Locus online database at http://www.locusmag.com/index/0start.html.
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r In addition, you can find a list of antiquarian fantasy and early horror reference works at
http://www.violetbooks.com/bib-research.html. [Lawrence Person]
q 2.9 Where Can I Find a List of Bookstores in a Particular Area of the World?
r A comprehensive list of bookstores all over the world is maintained by Evelyn C. Leeper at
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/4824/bookshop.htm#start. [Mike Berro]
r Note that bookstores and bookdealers are not the same thing, and different guides list one,
the other, or both. [Richard Weaver]
r SKOOB Directory of Secondhand Bookshops in the British Isles, SKOOB Books Ltd., 15
Sicilian Ave, Southhampton Row, Holborn, London WC1A 2QH, UK. [Richard Weaver]
r Sheppard Press (London): publishes (or used to publish) directories of bookdealers in
British Isles, Europe, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, USA. [Richard Weaver]
r Book Hunter Press, which publishes the Used Book Lover's Guides at
http://bookhunterpress.com/. [Susan Siegel]
q 2.10 Where Can I Find Out How to Grade the Condition of my Books?
r Try http://www.trussel.com/f_books.htm. [Dick Stephens]
r http://www.abebooks.com/cgi/abe.exe/routera^_pr=glossary. [Parmer Books]
r http://www.dogeared.com/AB%20Bookman%20content.htm. [Scot Kamins]
q 2.11 Where Can I Get Information About Small Press Publishers?
r http://www.smallpress.org/ Small Press Center, representing several dozen publishers,
including Ash Tree. [Jon Meyers]
r http://www.cbsd.com/ Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, representing 68 independent
presses. [Jon Meyers]
Yahoo's listing of small literary presses. [Jon Meyers]
r http://www.bookarts.com/98badw.html#f Lisitngs from the '98-'99 Book Arts Directory.
r http://lawrencegray.com/WritersCircle/writers/links/specialists.htm Another long list of
publishers, subdivided by specialties. [Jon Meyers]
r http://www.manuscriptediting.com/publishers-smallpresses.htm Another list. [Jon Meyers]
r http://red.libsci.sc.edu/~rmiller/english/pubs.html And another. [Jon Meyers]
r http://www.span.org/toolbox/links/ipublinks.html Still another. [Jon Meyers]
r I came across another relevant site in the latest New Yorker: Small Press Distribution,
which represents more than 500 independent presses & works in partnership with
Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, an organization I mentioned in my earlier post. The
SPD storefront is here: http://www.spdbooks.org/. The links page, with links to some of the
presses & other small-press info sources, is here:
http://www.spdbooks.org/interact/html.asp?html=links.html. [Jon Meyers]
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3. Identifying Books
q 3.1 How Do I Know If It's a First Edition?
r Identifying a first edition is often the most difficult aspect of collecting books. You are
welcome to ask about specific books on the newsgroup, but it can be beneficial to purchase
a guide to identification.
r One of the keys is to verify that the book is at least a first printing. A "number line" on the
copyright page often indicates this, with the lowest number being the printing (with
Random House and subsidiaries being a major exception, subtract one from the lowest
number for the printing.) If you see "1 2 3 4 5 78 77 76 75 74", this indicates a first
printing, and in 1974. [Mike Berro]
q 3.2 How Do I Recognize a Book Club Edition?
r There was a time when bookclub editions were easily identified. They were smaller, looked
cheap, were lighter in weight, and were usually marked "Bookclub Edition" on the dust
jacket. Now bookclubs try hard to disguise their editions, and with original editions getting
junkier by the year, there's often little apparent difference between the two. It's quite
common for bookclub editions to use the original publishers' first-edition negatives or
printing plates. According to Wilson (p. 111), many book club editions (bce's) are supplied
by the original publishers in identical format (I take it this means with the same binding and
paper?). Either way, book club editions can bear "First Edition" on their copyright-pages.
r Some bookclub editions even have prices on the dust jackets, though this is uncommon.
Increasingly common is the original edition with no price on the dust jacket. This is said to
enable bookstores to do their own pricing. It also helps to hide bookclub editions, but this is
probably incidental. [Gerard Gormley]
r If you find a circle, square, maple leaf, dot, or star blind-stamped on the bottom right of the
outside back cover, it's a Book of the Month Club (BOMC) edition. The great majority, but
not all, BOMC books are so stamped. BOMC has been doing this since 1948 or 1949.
BOMC books published prior to that time are difficult to distinguish from true first editions
(as are their more recent books). [Gerard Gormley]
r Literary Guild shows no identification on book, only on dust jacket. [Ahearn states on p. 46
that Literary Guild is identified on spine and title page. Such books must be uncommon, for
I have yet to find any Literary Guild (see 7.11) identification on any book or dust jacket.]
Tanner says that no book club edition is considered a first, but people are selling book club
firsts, albeit at reduced prices. [Gerard Gormley]
r I've seen a great many Literary Guild books that were clearly marked on both the book and
the dustjacket as LG editions. As I write this, I'm looking at a copy of "The Journal of
Arnold Bennet" (1933, no dj) that states "Literary Guild" on the spine and the title page. It
is likely that newer LG books, like newer BOMC books, are not explicitly marked as such.
[Gerard GormleyJon Meyers]
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q 3.3 How Do I Validate an ISBN?
r You have to multiply the digits with their position, disregarding the dashes, and then divide
Example: 3-472-61516-8 yields 3 + 4*2 + 7*3 + 2*4 + 6*5 + 1*6 + 5*7 + 1*8 + 6*9 = 173
and 173 - (15*11) = 8. [Christian Pree]
r When ISBN was introduced (in German pocket books about 1972/73), a remarkable
number of ISBNs had wrong validation digits, at least in German pocket books. [Christian
r The importance of ISBN is declining and as far as I know will be replaced with a new
system, because ISBN does not fit into EAN (barcode) and is therefore not machine
readable. In Germany (and other countries that utilize EAN13), an ISBN can be easily
translated into EAN: Remove the validation digit, add 978 at the beginning and a new
validation number at the end. For example, ISBN: 3-453-09982-6 yields EAN:
9783453099821 [Christian Pree]
r By the way, ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number (at least in the English-
speaking part of the world), and Internationale Standard Buch-Nummer (for the German
speaking part of the world.) EAN stands for Europaeische Artikel-Numerierung, roughly
translated as European Article Numbering System. EAN is an international system for the
identification of articles, used throughout the market for consumer goods, so for example
cash registers in the supermarket can identify products via scanner and automatically
register product and price. You find the number on almost every product as a number and a
barcode. I don't know if the same system is used in USA. [Christian Pree]
r "EAN" stands for "European Article Number", the most widely-used standard for product
numbering in Europe and many other parts of the world (but not, of course, in the U.S.,
who have to be different). Commonly-used forms are the 8-digit EAN8 (usually used for
company-internal product codes and therefore not guaranteed to be unique) and 13-digit
EAN13 (unique to a product). It is, incidentally, possible to derive a book's EAN13 from its
ISBN: stick "978" on the front, then re-calculate the last (check) digit. [Andy Key]
q 3.4 How Do I Describe the Sizes of Books?
r There seems to be some confusion here. A lot of booksellers and even librarians (many of
whom should really know better) tend to talk about these three terms as though they refer to
specific sizes. Historically, they don't. They refer to the way that books are printed and
bound. A folio puts two pages on each side of one sheet of paper (a single sheet of with two
pages on it is called a leaf). When you print a quarto, you put four pages on each side of a
leaf, so that 8 pages are printed on one sheet of paper. Today, giant presses are used to print
folio-sized books many pages at a time, of course. [Christopher G. Mullin]
r There seems to be particular confusion over the term "octavo." An octavo was never 8
pages printed on a leaf. It was (and sometimes still is) 8 pages printed on *EACH SIDE* of
a leaf, or 16 pages printed on one sheet of paper. This bundle of (in this case) 16 pages is
called a signature. A signature can be as few as 4 pages in the case of a quarto. Many
modern paperbacks have 48-page signatures. Basically, 8, 12, and 24 leaves are the most
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common number to be printed on a single sheet of paper. [Christopher G. Mullin]
r You fold the signatures of a book, trim off the edges, and then (traditionally) you sew the
signatures together. These days, paperback are just glued along the spine, but as we all
know the pages tend to come out. A sewn book, OTOH, will last through hundreds of years
of intermittent use. [Christopher G. Mullin]
r Since there were certain standard paper sizes in the book trade, various specific sizes of
book became more or less standard-- royal octavo, crown octavo, demi-octavo, etc. There
are even special rulers that you can use to measure your books and call them by these
traditional name, if you like. [Christopher G. Mullin]
r But... for clarity of description, don't try to tell someone you have a royal octavo (or
whatever). Mostly, people won't know what that means, And it's probably not really true
anyway. Most modern "octavo" books are printed with 24-page signatures. Instead, as
libraries worldwide do, measure the height of your book in centimeters, and the width too,
if that's greater than the height. With a little practice, you can judge the height of every
book you see within a centimeter or so. [Christopher G. Mullin]
r If you're really serious about describing a book printed before 1800, then you list exactly
how many signatures there are, and how many pages there are in each-- frequently there
were a mixture of 16-page and 4-page signatures in octavos printed the handpress era. Look
at Fredson Bowers 500-page book Principles of Bibliographical Description if you want to
understand how complicated this can get. [Christopher G. Mullin]
q 3.5 How Do I Tell If An Autograph Is Authentic?
r The best method is to compare the sig you have with a verified one. Many of the websites
that are dedicated to particular authors (such as my own) have a sample of the author's
signature. [Mike Berro]
r There are dealers who specialize in signed material; you should take your book to one of
them. [Ken MacIver]
r The Sanders Price Guide to Autographs, Alexander Books, 1997 (4th Ed.), $24.95 USA,
$33.25 Canada. Includes alphabetical listings, 3 different value levels (straight sig., signed
letter/document, signed letter in author's hand, etc.), and reproductions of 100s of
signatures. [Gerard Gormley]
r Try http://www.jillmorgan.com/sig.htm and
http://home.earthlink.net/~criswell/authors/agraphs.htm. [Lawrence Person]
q 3.6 How Do I Know If A Book Was Issued With a Dust Jacket?
r You should assume that any book published in the 20th century had a DJ. The burden
should be on the seller to show otherwise. [Ken MacIver]
r I would say that from what I've seen and read, books published after 1930 can be expected
to come with a jacket or be priced accordingly, books between 1915 and 1930 were not
always published with a jacket and should be considered scarce, jackets before 1915 should
be framed, well priced expensively. Most books in the SF and fantasy fields did not have
jackets prior to 1915. [John Langford]
r The major exceptions are the specially bound books, often limited editions. If a book is
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bound in real leather, there's a good chance it was not issued with a dust jacket, although it
might have been issued with a slipcase. [Mike Berro]
q 3.7 How Can I Determine the Real Name of an Author Using a Pen Name?
r Try http://www.trussel.com/f_books.htm. [Steve Trussel]
r Try http://www.walshnet.com/walshnet/realname/index.html (though the Java sound applet
is VERY annoying.) [Lawrence Person]
4. The Care and Feeding of Your Collection
q 4.1 What Are Some Tips For The Beginning Collector?
r Decide what you'd like to collect (certain writer(s), topics, illustrators, colors, etc.--see
thread on "collecting categories") [John Soward Bayne]
r Buy the best condition books you can find and afford. [John Soward Bayne]
r Buy copies of any two of the following and read them: Robert Wilson, Modern Book
Collecting; Allan & Patricia Ahearn, Book Collecting; William Rees-Mogg, How to Buy
Rare Books, and for your permanent collection, John Carter, ABC for Book Collectors.
r I presume you have subjects or authors that already interest you. If you don't already have
First Editions of those titles, they're the ones to start with. You'll want to begin to develop
relationships with a few book dealers that can help you build your collection. A collection
grows and changes over its life, just as the collector does. Collect what you enjoy and don't
worry about financial gain. Those who come in just for the money have ruined too many
hobbies already. [Steve A. Thompson]
r One thing you'll need to do is rid yourself of the belief that just because a book says "First
Edition" it must be important or valuable. How many of us have heard that from a non-
collector looking to sell books: "It must be worth a lot of money, because it's a First
Edition." Well, every book has a First Edition; for many, it's the only edition. In fact, if
publishers had their way, there would only be First Editions, at least for fiction. As far as
they're concerned, a second edition (or even second printing) means the extra cost of going
back to press, because they didn't accurately gauge the demand for the book. After all, the
publisher never makes any money on future price increase for First Editions of an author's
books. [Steve A. Thompson]
q 4.2 How Do I Protect My Collection?
r If the spines are yellowing or fading, get your books out of the sun. Sunlight will bleach
dust jackets, and do bad things to leather bound books as well. To avoid chipping, use
mylar covers, such as many on this group have advocated, available from Bro-dart,
Gaylord, University Products, etc. They should work better than plastic bags particularly if
you want to actually pull the books out and look at them from time to time. To combat dust,
put the books in a book case with a glass front or glass fronted doors. Sometimes you can
find them for reasonable prices. That also keeps the cats off the books. Dust that is on the
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books may be blown off or gently brushed off with a clean large watercolor or paste brush;
I often hold the book firmly between the knees with the top edge facing down (vertically)
and brush off dust. And in general, try to avoid high humidity, huge temperature swings,
and even if they are well protected take a look at them every now and then to make sure
some insidious insect hasn't breached your defenses. [Alyce B. Obvious]
r The library supply sources like Brodart, Gaylord and University Products sell "buffered"
(acid-neutralized) paper and cardboard of all types. I bought some nice sturdy buffered
boxes from Gaylord that are the perfect size for paperbacks; I use them for ephemera and
manuscripts as well. [Mike Berro]
r No treatment can reverse the affect of the aging, but spray deacidification is your best
option to slow down the effects of aging on woodpulp paper. There are currently two
products available, Wei T'O and Bookkeeper. Of the two, Bookkeeper is the best for your
type of paper. It also has the added advantage of being non-toxic and proven safe on inks...
just in case the books have inscriptions. To be safe though, always test first by putting a
drop on any ink you may think suspect. Gaylord (1-800-448-6160) sells the Bookkeeper in
a 38oz pump spray bottle and 16oz aerosol can. The 38oz is far more economical. It sells
for $82.95. Catalog #YA-PT38. Other vendors also carry the same product. When spraying
you will want to thoroughly wet the pages, but not so that the fluid runs down the page. Just
spray, turn, spray, turn.... Pages will dry on their own relatively quickly. Depending on the
size of your collection, and budget, you might want to contact Bookkeeper directly. They
will process larger batches (multiples of 8). Their web address is http://www.bookkeeper-
pti.com/pti.html. None of this, however, will reverse the effects of embrittlement and
discoloration to the paper. It will, however, slow down the effect of further deterioration.
Not much we can do about using newsprint... for printing books. [Peter D. Verheyen]
r The manufacturing process that results in acidic papers & cardboards uses bleaches to even
out the colors (& to reduce destructive lignin) & acidic alum or rosin to bind the paper. The
majority of regular paper is now manufactured without these acidic bonding agents, so that
acid neutral papers are presently "the norm" rather than a specialized product. But one has
to be more careful selecting cardboard products which still sometimes use acidic bonding
agents, especially if there is a lot of recycled content in the boxes. The addition of buffering
agents is supposed to neutralize the bonding agents PLUS keep the box from being
acidified by contact with acidic environment or content. I'm surprised if the Brodart product
still reads acidic when tested, & don't quite know what to make of that, except that effective
testing for acid in paper is just a tad too complex to be reduced to a "pen tester" & perhaps
the tester is worthless, but I've never even held one so can't say for sure. No museum
archivist recommends pen testers but I've never seen them specifically dissed either.
[paghat the ratgirl]
r Some of the claims made for "archival boxes" which claims are used to justify tripling &
quadrupling the price of a box, are actually misleading since so many of the boxes you can
get at any ordinary box supplier for an ordinary price are in fact high pH acid-neutralized.
Today most NEW (unrecycled) corrugated board is neutral/high pH because no longer
manufactured with rosin & alum sizing, & white boxes won't have lignin either;
presumably pulps & jute not treated to neutralize lignin are most more apt to be brownest
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cardboards, & white cardboards are either not manufactured from sources with lignin or
have had the lignin neutralized in the bleaching process -- but nowadays color of the
corrugation is not a reliable measure & it's preferable to see a statement of pH level which
should be 8.5 or above. Lignin removal is in direct proportion to the amount of chlorine
applied during the "cooking" process & the length of cooking time, which may or may not
result in a whiter product. A bland statement of "Archival quality" should always mean
there is a high pH to neutralize acid AND lack of lignin -- but if it does not also claim to be
"buffered" the paper could still become acidic from contact with whatever is put inside it.
[paghat the ratgirl]
r The Paige Company (phone 1-800-957-2443) manufactures a so-called "acid free"
(buffered to pH 8 to 10) brown corrugated cardboard box in three sizes that meets museum
criteria. They call it the "Paige Miracle Box." But ANY sizeable box retailer -- here in
Seattle that includes The Paper Zone, Western paper, & Arvey Paper -- will have similar
boxes available. I'd be inclined to select high pH boxes that did not require buffers for
anything being stored less than two years, as the boxes are just as safe as buffered boxes but
not expensive like buffered boxes. But as museums think the buffered product is best &
even these some museums will replace at ten year intervals under the assumption that
environmental contamination will acidify even buffered boxes eventually. [paghat the
r Perma/Dur brand bulk storage boxes are lignin-free due to the cooking process, &
neutral/high pH because not using acidic sizing. But they ADDITIONALLY include
buffering agents not because the boxes need it, but because paper or textile products put
inside the boxes will likely be acidic, & the buffering neutralizes airborne & contact-
exchange of acids. They're pricey boxes. There are also polypropylene boxes such as
manufactured by Coroplast; they are archivally safe. [paghat the ratgirl]
r Since books & papers are going to be far more acidic than the boxes in most cases, it verges
on absurd to put, say, a book printed on neutral acid high pH paper in a box with a bunch of
yellowing old tomes. For really lengthy storage, each book would need to be in Mylar bags
to restrict exchange of acid molecules between different items inside the box. Some
archivists hold that even Mylar has its problems because moisture can get in but not out of a
sealed Mylar bag. They recommend wrapping books individually in 100% rag paper,
especially if the binding incorporates leather which otherwise attracts moisture when sealed
in Mylar. [paghat the ratgirl]
r Here's a fact sheet on Archival 101:
http://www.magnet.state.ma.us/sec/arc/arcaac/aacipre.htm. Here's a web page on boxed
storage of books: http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/slv/conservation/bookstor.htm. Here's an essay
on safe book storage: http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/cfl-cbgf/liaison/1998/98-3/rarebk3.htm. Here's
an archival FAQ including addresses of four archival suppliers: http://www.uwp.edu/info-
services/library/handout.htm. There's also an archival storage e-list & used to subscribe to,
but I couldn't just now find the e-mail address of the woman who started that up. If you can
lay hands on David Oliphant, editor, ESSAYS ON TREATMENT & CARE OF RARE
BOOKS MANUSCRIPTS PHOTOGRAPHY & ART ON PAPER & CANVAS (Austin,
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, 1989) it is worth having about. Also, Gaylord
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will provide FREE factual pamphlets on many of these topics. [paghat the ratgirl]
q 4.3 How Do I Clean My Books?
r I have found that lighter fluid is a great way to clean dust jackets. It is a great solvent. Just
don't smoke while you're cleaning! [Michael Hurey]
r My feeling is always to stay away from products such as Backus Bookcloth Cleaner. It does
clean bookcloth and especially illustrated bookcloth very well .....but for only about 12
months. Then you have to clean it all over again. Each application seems to fade the cover a
little bit. It is much favoured by some dealers in the United Kingdom and I recommend that
British readers of this newsgroup buy some so they can recognize the smell of it. [John-
r I stumbled across ABSORENE paper & book cleaner when someone recommended it to
kill the musty smell on books. It's really good for cleaning off surface dirt on both cloth
books and djs. Maybe it's my imagination but it seems to brighten up the books. [Jane R.]
r I use a product called "AFTA" which is a cleaner, degreaser and adhesive remover. Works
great but practice first to find out how much to use (a little goes a long way!) [Hardyboy]
q 4.4 How Do I Clean The Page Edges?
r Try a product available from Lineco Archival Products here in US - Document Cleaning
Pad; it's a bag of eraser crumbs, really, but works wonders - available through Light
Impressions, Highsmith, or Brodart, or try an art supply store
q 4.5 How Do I Clean Vellum Binding?
r Milk and cotton wool. Moisten the cotton wool and rub the vellum gently but firmly. [Jerry
q 4.6 How Do I Remove Pencil Marks?
r My favorite is an Eberhard Faber Magic-Rub, a white vinyl eraser intended for non-
abrasive, non-smudging use on drafting film. I prefer the pencil-shaped to the block,
because I find the former more comfortable to handle. There are, I think, several varieties &
brands of white vinyl erasers that would all work well, and I've also heard that kneaded
rubber erasers do a good job, though I haven't tried them myself. [Jon Meyers]
r I use a Pierce electric erasor, purchased in an art supply store. Because it's electric, you can
adjust the pressure with your hand. I've never thinned a page since I started using it. [Scot
r My favorite eraser is a Staedtler Mars Plastic, stock no. 52650. I have found it to be very
effective and kind to the paper. It even works well on colored endpapers, when applied
gently. [Denise Enck]
r I use another Eberhard Faber product, "Star Type Cleaner". It is a play-dough like product.
You don't use to rub, but more like blotting -just roll it over the marks to pick up the
penciling. Blue, not white. [Dick Weaver]
r I just stumbled onto this page: http://www.nedcc.org/plam3/tleaf62.htm, "Surface Cleaning
of Paper," from the Northeast Document Conservation Center. This discusses overall
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cleaning of larger areas, rather than removing small marks, but still some possibly useful
info here. [Jon Meyers]
r Here's my report on my first effort at cleaning up penciled-in prices. Last week I visited my
local art emporium and bought several erasers. From the recommendations in this thread, I
bought a Sanford magic Rub (this apparently is the same thing as Eberhard Faber) and a
Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser. I asked for Star Type Cleaner, but they didn't have it,
although one of the sales people had heard of it and said it was on order. On another sales
person's recommendation I got a square of stuff called Design Kneaded Rubber, which feels
similar to modeling clay, but is softer and a little crumbly. Tonight I tried various
combinations of the three erasers on a half dozen books with various ages and types of
paper. I had similar results with all three: about 95% of the pencil mark came off like
magic; the next 4% took an ungodly amount of rubbing; and the last 1% never came out.
Applying a lot of pressure seemed to help, and had no ill effects on the paper -- not even on
a heavily yellowed and foxed flyleaf in a book that is 80 years old.
The Magic Rub and the Mars Plastic both acquired a dark residue on the part that was in
contact with the book. This created an interesting conundrum: after using the eraser to clean
the book, what can I use to clean the eraser? The marks did not smear onto later work, but I
wonder whether they reduced the erasers' effectiveness. The Kneaded Rubber didn't build
up a residue. I think that is because it's so soft: the rubbing action makes the material "flow"
from the surface to the interior, carrying the pencil traces with it. For this reason, and
because it created no crumbs, I liked the Kneaded Rubber best.
All three erasers seemed about equally effective on most surfaces. On very soft (pulp) paper
the Kneaded Rubber seemed to be less effective than the other two. On very hard (coated)
paper, it seemed more effective.
At this point I'm most interested in finding more effective ways to remove that last 5% of
the marking. I tried slipping a manila folder under the page I was working on, on the theory
that the pencil made an impression in the paper, and a rigid backing would make it flatten
out again when I pressed the eraser down. This seemed to help, but I may just have thought
it did because that was what I expected and wanted. I wanted to try the same experiment
with a sheet of metal or rigid plastic, but I had nothing on hand that was a suitable size and
thickness and had rounded edges and corners. [Jonathan Sachs]
q 4.7 How Do I Remove a Label From a Book?
r I have successfully remove things glued to books with a mixture of flour and water. Simply
mix enough enough flour into the water to keep it from flowing when it is poured onto a
surface. Then use a small paint brush to generously coat the paper that is being removed.
Usually, within 15-20 mins, the water soluable glue will soften and the unwanted paper can
be peeled off. (Please don't try this on a valuable book for your first attempt! Practice on a
cheap ex-lib book first). [Rick J. Gunter]
r There is a liquid called "stamp lift" that is available from Stamp shops and stamp mongers
at antique fairs. We have had some success using it to lift bookplates. The problem is that
different glues need different solutions. Another source of bookplate lift is bookbinder
suppliers. 17th, 18th, and 19th century bookplates tend to lift more easily than late 20th
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century ones because they were using friendlier glues. Steaming doth murder books. [John-
r In a well-ventilated place, spray it with lighter fluid (Ronsonal), wait five seconds, gently
rub with a cloth or cotton ball (or cotton flat, which I find works best). I've used this
technique literally hundreds of times without a problem: the excess fluid evaporates in a
few minutes and leaves no residue. [Scot Kamins]
r A number of years ago I had come across a product called Bob's Book Plate Remover.
According to the label, it was made with what they called "Wetter Water". Wetter water, or
wet water, is actually a common product in model building. It is made by adding a few
drops of detergent (liquid dish detergent works well) to water. The detergent helps break
down the surface tension in the water. Don't know if this will work on bookplates, but if
you can't find the Bob's product, it's worth a try.
r I've used lighter fluid on old toy boxes, cloth covered books, paper dust jackets, and
anything else with a price tag or gluey residue. I've never had any damage or staining. [Kris
r Don't buy lighter fluid. Go to a hardware store and buy naptha. Its what lighter fluid is.
Only cheaper. Also sold as rubber cement thinner. About $2/qt. [Charles Kroon]
r I've used lighter fluid safely as well, but I was reminded of a janitor trying to get gum out of
a carpet by freezing it. Sometimes they use an aerosol can of FREON, sometimes dry ice,
sometimes a tuna can with ice in it. The idea is to get the gum brittle. I've never tried it on
books. [Wm Seán Glen]
q 4.8 How Do I Remove a Label From a Dust Jacket?
r Removing labels is often quite simple. I apply a hot iron for a moment to heat the label.
This loosens the glue and often, but not always, the label can be removed very cleanly. To
supplement the iron, try using cigarette lighter fluid (naphta), which helps get rid of any
sticky residue. Once cleaned up, many up ex-lib books become much easier to sell. It's
amazing what a few minute touchup will do. Yes, you must still declare the book ex-lib
when selling. [Seth Steingraph]
r I use mineral spirits. Less flammable and, to my knowledge, equally effective. In cases
where the heat of an iron might risk damage, I dab mineral spirits onto the label until it
loosens the adhesive. I tried a product called Goo Gone, but found that it dulled the DJ. If
possible, I remove a sticker with an X-acto knife (broad, rounded blade), getting gently
under it with the blade till I have it started, then peeling slooooowly off with my fingers. To
loosen a really stubborn sticker, I soak it with a q-tip saturated with spirits, wait a minute,
then remove. I clean up any residual stickiness with a paper towel wetted in mineral spirits.
The same paper towel will remove the odd bits of sticky material that we find on many DJs.
As for run of the mill spots/stains, I find good old fashioned spit the safest. Just wet a finger
and rub away the offender, then wipe dry with a paper towel (or better yet, a soft cloth of
the type you'd use to polish your most precious antique automobile). [Gerard Gormley]
r I use a product called AFTA by Guardsman Products. It's touted as a professional strength
cleaner/degreaser & adhesive remover. [Hardyboy01]
r I use Bestine as it removes sticker residue more quickly and cleanly than anything else I've
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ever used. Available at most art and drafting supply stores. [Lawrence Person]
q 4.9 How Do I Remove Crayon Marks From a Book?
r Unlike ink, which penetrates the paper, crayon marks are at the surface. I've had success
with very fine steel wool (0000 grade). Gentle rubbing will usually remove, or minimize,
the crayon marks without causing harm to the paper. (As with any cleaning method,
practice on a book you don't care about.) [Mario Christaldi]
q 4.10 How Do I Get Rid of That "Musty Smell"?
r Try enclosing in plastic bag after dusting with baking soda liberally. [Jack Evans]
r Someone claimed that putting the book in an enclosed bag with kitty litter helps. Make sure
the stuff doesn't touch the book, and also make sure it's not been used. I've tried pointing an
electric fan at the book(s) for about a week (this was for smoke smell), and it worked fairly
well. [Mike Berro]
r When you smell a "musty" or "mildewy" type odor, you are quite often reacting to mold
spores which have left the book and are floating in the air. This is a situation where using a
fan could cause a problem. Blowing the mold spores around could cause them to land on
other items, such as books, and spread the problem...especially if you were using the fan in
a closed environment. [Ken Kapson]
r The fan also wouldn't treat the mold problem on the infected book itself. At best, it would
dry up any moisture which is present and stop the mold from producing futher spores. But
desiccation alone will not kill the mold. It will become inactive. However, once moisture
becomes present again, the mold will reactivate itself (hardy little buggers, aren't they?).
r One further comment, which may be of interest. The smell receptors in your nose will
become "fatigued" after being exposed to an odor for a period of time. This means that you
will stop noticing the smell. So, this means that if you go to someone's musty basement and
start looking at their books, eventually you won't notice the smell that could be present in
some of the individual items. But later on, after you've brought your new purchases home
and your smell receptors have returned to normal, you'll once again be able to smell the
mold on the books (which you didn't notice at the time you bought them). [Ken Kapson]
r What I find works fairly well (I have allergies too) is to take a newspaper (one that is a
couple weeks old - where the print doesn't come off.) Tear it in pieces to fit inside the book.
Put the book away for a couple weeks. Most of the smell would be gone. Lysol is very good
for killing mold spores (my primary allergy). You can take a paper towel and spray it with
lysol and enclose it in a large plasic bag with the book for a couple days. I keep a box
(separate from all my other books) that is just for sick books. I call it my book hospital.
This is where I keep all my books until they are well enough to join me.
r I accomplish this with my "detox chamber." Here's how I make mine: 1. I use a large box
for the outside. In my case this box sits outdoors under a carport roof. 2. At the bottom of
the box I place the "smell-soaker-upper" (SSU ?) - which at various times has been Lysol,
baking soda and kitty litter. (I'm open for any more suggestions). BTW, in my experience,
Lysol works the fastest but to a small extent trades one odor for another. Baking soda and
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kitty litter are the best. I place a bowl at the bottom and put the SSU in that. 3. Over this I
invert a wire basket (milk crate). This covers the SSU and decreases the chance of getting it
on the books. 4. On top of the wire crate I place clean paper and set the books on top.
Depending on the book, it might be lying flat or standing erect with pages splayed open.
(There's always the danger of curious dogs or teenagers tipping over the whole contraption
!!) 5. I go away and forget about it for a while. This tends to run anywhere from weeks to
months. [Bill and Barb Wright]
q 4.11 How Do I Get Rid Of Unwanted Odors?
r Absorene: Seriously, folks, the best method of removing cigarette smell from books is
Absorene paper and book cleaner. It's a pink clay that you apply like a sponge to the front
and back of books. It absorbs the smell. On the ends of the books, apply very gently. The
stuff is magic! You can order it through the Brodart catalog, or write to the Absorene MFG
Co. at 1609 N. 14th St., St Louis, MO 63106 USA. Terrific stuff. Two cans will last all
year! [Larry Burdick]
r Activated Charcoal: I think charcoal or baking soda or any other odor absorber would also
work. [Chris Volk/Shep Iiams]
r Aftershave Lotion: Putting a book in an airtight container with aftershave lotion works.
Best if the book is fanned open, and of course kept from getting the liquid lotion on the
book. Moisten some kind of absorbent material in the bottom of the box with the book
above it. The after shave lotion method is used by car dealers to freshen up a smelly car.
They spray or put moistened rags in the car and keep it closed up for several days. (things
you didn't need to know). 
r Baking Soda or Talc: Baking powder absorbs both moisture and odors, but the process is
tedious and messy and not guaranteed. Interleaving with powdered paper takes forever, so I
reserve it for those [books] really worth reviving. I have used rice paper dredged in baking
soda or unscented talc. There probably is some pre-powdered paper on the market. I've used
both baking powder and baking soda. The powder is ground finer and so is more absorbent
and harder to brush off. 
r Baking Soda or Talc: One of the ideas was to put said smelly book in a plastic baggie with
baking soda in the bottom. You should also put a layer of paper between the book and soda
so there was no direct contact. I've gone the soda route and it works reasonably well - I've
let the book "sit in it" for around two weeks. [Nate's Books ]
r Carpet Deodorizer: I'm not sure if this would work for smoke but we use carpet
deodorizer for books that smell musty or mildue. Might want to try it. [Amy ]
r Carpet Deodorizer: Carpet de-odouriser non coloured-non scented variety. Use one called
'Neutradol' if you can get it. It is a white powder a bit like talc. Dust every page and the
cover with it, then wrap it up for about two weeks (use a polyethelene freezer bag). The
powder will come off easily with a small vacuum cleaner such as a Dust Buster, or brushing
with a soft shaving brush. Hey presto, a smell-free book. [Broder's Books ]
r Kitty Litter: Recently we purchased a math library which, while it had no apparent
mildew, had that telltail odor. In addition, a couple of the volumes had "philandering pussy
cat" musk about them. We plunged the books into the middle of a box of unscented clay
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clumping kitty litter, having first very lightly "misted" them with lysol. We held the lysol
can approximately 4' above the books, and gave a very light psst! on the spray nozzle,
letting the fine mist drift over them. After a week we pulled the books out of the box of
kitty litter and behold, they no longer smelled. [Bree Books ]
r Cedar Chips: Cedar chips have done wonders for me with all kinds of odors. You get a
bag at a pet store, then put the books and a load of cedar chips in a plastic garbage bag or
sealed carton for a period of time. The most difficult to deodorize are art books on coated
papers. How long it takes depends on the odor, but the cedar chips leave no odor. [Evert
r Coffee Grounds: Some booksellers have had luck with removing mold/must smell from
old paperbacks by placing them in a plastic bag, and placing an open container of coffee
grounds in the bag, and then leaving for a week or so (seems to help if placed in a warm
environment). The mold smell disappears, and the books, if aired for a couple of days
before being placed on the shelfs, lose the coffee smell. Both used and un-used coffee
grounds are said to work. Haven't heard if this works with hardcovers or other items. [John
F. Kuenzig ]
r Diss: Someone also suggested the use of diss... you know - that stuff they store with film
that absorbes moisture. [Nate's Books ]
r Fabric Softener Sheets: I got this suggestion from someone on AOL last year. Tried it
with an ARC of Jurassic Park which must have lived its whole life in the smoking
lounge...It pretty much worked, might have worked better if I'd been more diligent or used
more strips... The suggestion is to take one or two of those dryer fabric softener sheets (I
use Bounce), cut them into a few lengthwise strips and place the strips here and there inside
the book. Then seal the book up in a plastic bag, strips and all, and wait for some period of
time which I don't remember (I left my copy sitting around for months, but that wasn't
really on purpose). Probably a week or so. And no, I have no idea whether this would be
chemically bad for the book's paper; certainly my ARC wasn't any the worse for the
treatment, that I noticed anyway. [Suzanne Saunders ]
r White Vinegar: My pet way of getting rid of odors in books is thus: Put the book on thread
spools [or something similar] in the microwave oven. Use another object to prop open the
topside cover. DO NOT TURN ON THE OVEN!!! Place a saucer of white vinegar in the
oven, and let it set overnight. One night usually takes care of it. The book may smell like
vinegar for a few hours, but then is odor free. [Diane Johnson ]
r Ozone: At Wells Books, we have converted an unused closet into an ozone chamber. Books
from the homes of smokers or from smoke damage in house fires go into this "chamber"
with our ozone machine going for a two hour session. This will remove almost all the
smoke smell (also most mildew smell). This is the method used by the Royal B.C. Museum
and by many companies specializing in insurance claims. We first started this when one of
our stores had a serious fire. The ozone treatment if done many times over the life of a book
might damage the make up of the paper. But then, badly smoked books would have a
shorter life time anyway. What smell isn't removed can be wiped off with a treated sponge
from a janitor supply store (again the type of thing used by the folks who clean up after
house fires). We not only clean our own books, we would also provide a service to our
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customers on Vancouver Island. [Wells Books ]
q 4.12 How Do I Get Rid of Mold?
r R.L. Shep in his "Cleaning and Repairing Books... a Practical Home Manual" mentions
using hydrogen peroxide, carefully applied to the area with an eyedropper; lemon juice
applied the same, and placed in the sun for a "short time only"; denatured alcohol, applied
with a soft rag or cotton swap; thymol in a solution of alcohol. As with all "blot up any
excess". If mildew is between the pages of the book, he suggest diatomaceous earth,
sprinkled between the pages and brushed or vacuumed out several days later. If the book is
spotted from a previous "infestation", using lemon juice or a weak solution of peroxide,
applied in small amounts with an eyedropper and wiped off quickly, followed by a good
coat of "Renaissance Wax" (available from McCune, Inc., San Francisco) or some other
good wax. As usual, the Secretary will denounce any knowledge of your activities, etc.
r (1) Getting rid of the stain. *If* you think it could be removed with a stiff brush, do *not*
go ahead and remove it that way, as that will almost certainly damage the surrounding
cloth. Instead, take a sharp-pointed, scalpel-type blade and/or a pair of tweezers, and a high-
powered magnifying glass and work carefully at scraping/prising away the gunk without
damaging the cloth itself. Some moderately light brushing towards the end may help to get
rid of traces.
If the stains can *not* be removed in this way, water is probably the next thing to try. Use
wet tissue to dampen the whole surface of the board (otherwise dampstain marks are likely
to appear). Then draw a blunt edge (like a bone folder) smoothly across the board. Don't
use anything sharp or you risk damaging the cloth. Don't rub the damp board with tissue or
cloth or anything, as this will probably remove the dye in the cloth. Depending on the type
of dye used, you are likely to lose some of the colour anyway, but do it carefully and the
loss will be nigligible and pretty much unnoticeable. Work *very carefully* round the
title/gilt stamping or similar, drawing the bone folder *away from* such areas *towards*
the edge of the board. Basically, you're teasing the dirt out of the fabric; don't dump it on
top of the title, etc., just work it towards the edges of the board, where it can be wiped
You may be able to remove much of the the stain this way but the stain (or parts of it) may
simply mix in with the water and the dye on the cloth. Even so, the resulting gunk, when
distributed smoothly across the boards with a bone folder or similar, will be an
Don't use chemicals. They may improve the immediate appearance of the book, but within
a year or two their corrosive effects will begin to become apparent. The most you might try
is a small amount of some lanolin-based cleanser (e.g., Amodex). If you do use something
like this, try to remove it afterwards with water as much as possible. Spray the board with a
deacidification spray (or apply it as a solution) afterwards, for good measure.
One of the things that gives older books their "feel" is the accumulation of grease from the
hands of its readers. The above treatment will remove a lot of that grease, which can be
restored in the form of a very small amount of very low-acidity (ideally ph neutral)
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vegetable oil - or just a lot of handling with sweaty hands! Actually, the grease from fingers
is slightly acid, and in itself aids corrosion in the long run. [John Wilson]
r (2) Killing off the spores. The spores (if they are such) are probably best killed off by
sunshine, which apparently works just as well (or even better) behind glass as in the open
air. Leave it on the windowsill on a sunny day for an hour or so. Ideally, if you are going to
dampen the board to clean it, do it on a sunny day and put the book in the sun to dry. Don't
do *any* of the above on anything that's really valuable; leave it in the hands of a
professional. [John Wilson]
q 4.13 How Do I Get Rid of Foxing?
r I could imagine some tricky sod removing foxing with laundry bleach which might look
okay the first couple years, but Chlorox does immediate damage to the cellulose content of
paper, & the residue salts cause increasing damage in the long run. There are additional
chemical means of neutralizing the residue salts, but those additional chemicals also have
Foxing can also be masked temporarily with peroxide, but peroxide damages paper even
more quickly than Chlorox. Both methods are essentially those of the ignorant or the
crooked. Unfortunately foxing is most frequently caused by a living organism which may
or may not continue to grow. In ideal conditions of temperature & humidity for the book,
this fungus either ceases to grow or develops at a such a low rate that the chemical solution
residues are the more harmful in that chemical residues will hasten rather than retard the
natural break-down of paper but the arrested fungus may remain only a minor speckling of
Some tests on these foxing detect no fungus present, so some archivists posit the possibility
of multiple causes, leaving an element of "mystery" about the cause & nature of foxing.
One thing is fairly standard: foxing occurs best in papers that contain iron impurities or
high acidity. Iron is usually introduced into paper during manufacture, from water
containing iron, from old papers manufactured with aid of iron machinery & iron beaters.
Foxing caused exclusively by iron, & not by fungus, archivists distinguish as "dendritic
growth stain" & at its ugliest it is a big fan-shaped discoloration that apparently follows
some metalic molecular pattern. Fungal foxing usually requires paper acidity, acidity being
the result of bonding agents used from the 1890s through 1980s on cheaper papers, though
it's possible the acidity of some foxed books is a by-product of the fungus itself. Both forms
of foxing are treated the same way, by washing the paper in an oxidizing agents, which
requires submersal in dilute chemical then rinsing.
Talus, a company in New York, sells powdered Chloramine- specifically for use in
removing foxing from archival materials, including books. Unfortunately it requires the
powder to be dissolved in water & the foxed item to be immersed in the water, then
submersed a second time to rinse out the Chlor-T residues. So it treats one signature-leaf at
a time, the book having first to be disbound.
State of the art archival preservationists have found that even the Chloramine-T leaves a
residue after rinsing, & is harmful over time, but no better option has been proposed. It is
restricted to use on items truly worthy of preservation, & which have egregious foxing. All
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de-foxing chemical bleaches have to be rinsed. A book of considerable age & rarity that is
being devoured by fungus, it can be disbound, each separated signature soaked in dilute
Chloramine-T, then rinsed to remove residues, & rebound. This is not very useful for entire
books of only average value.
There is a very dangerous & impossible to do at home method of removing foxing from
books that used Chloramine gas. I've seen reports that this is safe for the book & may be the
only method guaranteed not to replace foxing with waterdamage. But the technique requires
resources only the aerospace industry could provide. The book has to be laced in a riffled-
open position so all the pages can be gassed, & the gas chamber better be air tight. I've
never known of this being done by booksellers, & no standard archival resource mentions it
as a viable option, though the Univeristy of Washington experimented with it to good
results with the assistance of Boeing Aerospace back in the late 1970s -- I've heard nothing
about it since.
Some archivists claim (hope rather) calcium hypochlorite leaves less residue even than
Chloramine-T soaks, but others have said calcium hypochlorite clings so well to paper it is
extremely hard to rinse out & so is not preferable to Chlor-T. Again, it's a submersal
technique, hardly practical for books.
One old method is a three-part deal, requiring three hotographic chemical trays. The first
tray has potassium permaganate diluted one to 16 parts water. Each page is submersed for a
half-minute this solution, then moved to a second tray with sodium meta-bisulphite diluted
one to sixteen parts water, again for a half-minute. The third tray should be a "flushing" tray
with water running thrugh it continuously. This a rinse, to wash out the killed & loosened
foxing, & to remove the chemicals themselves. This elaborate method has pretty much been
displaced by Chloramine-T or by calcium hypochlorite which requires only one rather than
two distinct baths before rinse.
Sodium borohydride in a 5% solution is also used. The majority of archivists don't seem to
use it, but a few claim it does not need to be rinsed, because its residues leave a deposit of
alkalinity that might actually benefit the paper.
Exposure one sheet at a time to UV light (artificially generated, or mere sunlight exposure)
is the only "safe" bleaching method & even that is not safe for paper containing lignen,
which will rapidly oxidize from ultra violet exposure, with darkening effect as lousy as the
foxing. It works best with slight moistening of the surface & strong UV radiation. If it's just
the random page it might be a tolerable method, otherwise it takes one hell of a long time.
The moisture-&-UV method is reportedly the least damaging of all methods (except
possibly the unavailable gas-chamber method). The Paper Conservator #21, 1997, has a
lengthy article on the method: "Aqueous light bleaching of modern rag paper: an effective
tool for stain removal." It is useful for cleaning foxed color plates that have been removed,
treated, & reinserted, but doing it to an entire book would not be time effective.
All methods requiring water (dampening, or submersive) risk damage to water soluable
inks. Most dyes used in books are color-fast but very old books with color plates sometimes
used indigo in the inking mix to achieve purple & blue colorations that will bleed when
dampened. Further, rinsing with fresh water (from the tap) risks introducing iron impurities
to the paper, damaging over time, so dionized or distilled water is sometimes
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recommended. High quality papers can sometimes be wetted in a manner that will dry
unharmed, but an awful lot of papers will either change their thickness or wrinkle before
they dry, & that damage is irreversible. Spot-testing helps in the decision process. By &
large it is a trade-off & defoxing is recommended only when the level of foxing is more
But I'm afraid any bookseller who claims to have a magic method of foxing removal is
likely spraying a mist of dilute Chlorox that damages the cellulose in the paper & does
permanent harm, though if he can sell the cleaned-up book quickly enough by making it
look momentarily nice & bright, he's probably succeeded at his only real goal. All
functional methods apart from UV exposure require submersal so one would expect signs
of a book having been disbound & rebound, with some slight evidence of contact with
water if not outright overt water damage.
The bottom line is there is no truly reasonable & effective way of defoxing a book, perhaps
at most these methods are credible for a single fox-stained illustration plate or a few
egregiously fungally-darkened pages that'll look better slightly wrinkled than they look all
splotchy. Books stored in temperature controlled rooms (in the 60-67 degrees F range) with
no more than 50% humidity will not develop foxing, & foxing that is established will be
retarded in further growth. If you live in the Philipines or South Carolina or Dallas where
humidity can be 100% then books that have foxing started in them are pretty much doomed
& will infect nearby books as well, unless a first-rate dehumidifier is in place. There is
perhaps another bottom line, that paper is not so permanent as we would dream, & all we
can do is limit the decay of books so they will last a lot longer than our own lifetime, but
eventual decay is inescapable. [Paghat]
r There's really only one technique which *might* work and at the same time will not
damage the book in other ways (e.g., by impregnating corrosive material on the pages).
Wait until it is a fine, sunny day. Then take a piece of moist cotton wool or tissue and very
gently moisten the page. If residue transfers itself from the page to the tissue at this stage,
take a fresh moist tissue and repeat the process until all such residue has been removed. The
tissue should brush over the page with feather-lightness; no pressure at all should be
applied, or the page will *certainly* wrinkle when dried (it will very likely wrinkle
anyway!). Then place the open page in a sunny spot (it doesn't have to be direct sunlight;
behind glass works fine) until it has thoroughly dried. Don't leave it there *too* long, or the
page may start to fade. 20-30 minutes is probably about right - less if it's very hot. Test the
process on a page that doesn't matter too much before touching the title page, etc.
The main things are can go wrong are: (1) As I've already said, the page may wrinkle.
Nevertheless, it may look better wrinkled than foxed. And, if you've done it carefully
(without stretching the fibres of the paper by applying pressure to it while wet), the
wrinkling will be much reduced after the book has been back on the shelf for a few weeks.
(2) If you dab at spots of foxing, rather than washing the whole page smoothly, it may dry
leaving a watermark stain. (3) It may not work anyway. (4) It may not only not work, but it
may leave you with a page which has wrinkles and watermarks in addition to being foxed!!
Finally, when it comes to any advice on this subject from this newsgroup, remember,
"Nothing Costs More than Something for Free" (title of a play by Yukio Mishima)! [John
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r I've had some success wth this method and the best thing is "it can't hurt if you're careful".
Maybe? Take a slice of white bread and remove the crust. Spread a newspaper to catch the
crumbs. Remember white bread is made with bleached flour and is moist. Gently rub the
bread on the page in a circular motion and it will soon crumble, ball up, and if you're lucky,
start to darken. The light abrasion applied will not harm the paper, the bleach will help
whiten and the moist bread will remove some soiling and lighten stains. Don't expect
perfection but look for improvement. And - hold the mayo. [Sharon Sudderth]
q 4.14 What Do I Do About Bookloving Insects?
r Place your books in airtight plastic bag and put them in your freezer a couple of days. That
will kill the insects.
r Prevention is the best route, and that's best accomplished by climate control. Low
temperature and low humidity discourage most book-eaters. I keep my book room as cold
and dry as my computer (static electricity a problem if humidity drops too low) and I can
stand it. [Gerard Gormley]
r Correction measures recommended by most professionals involve freezing -- blast freezing,
if possible -- and double freezing. Books should be bagged before freezing. This is not a
guaranteed method. Some insects may be able to develop a resistance to freezing. The
experts frown on insectides and other chemical measures. These can be harmful to people
as well as books. [Gerard Gormley]
r I suggest you order the Technical Leaflet, "Integrated Pest Management," from Northeast
Document Conservation Center /100 Brickstone Square / Anadover MA 01810-1494 / TEL:
508-470-1010 FAX: 508-475-6021 [Gerard Gormley]
q 4.15 How Do I Care For My Leather Books?
r For at least 3 decades I have been applying potassium lactate to new leather bindings
followed by the British Museum leather dressing formula (40% anhydrous lanolin, 60%
neatsfoot oil), and using the Brit Mus formula for other leather bindings. Never had any
trouble with either treatment. At a preservation workshop at UTex Austin this month the
presenter mentioned (with photos) that some collections believe that the oil in this formula
migrates to the text block (mainly to the gutters) of some of their books. I don't notice this
on any of my books. [Sam Lanham (firstname.lastname@example.org)]
r I would suggest immediate climate control. Get the humidity and temperature down and
keep them there. [Gerard Gormley]
r Weird book rot may indeed be a literal "bug"---that was my guess, too. I carefully daubed
the open sore with Lysol, and the sudden eruption stopped! Because the leather was red-
dyed, it literally looked like a bleeding wound, and that seems to have stopped.
r I've been using Marney's Conservation Leather Dressing for some time now. I bought from
a local book binder. It may not restore leather that has rotted, but does a good job otherwise.
Contents are Lanolin, Neatsfoot Oil & Beeswax. From experience, use in very small
amounts per application. Too much moisture at one time may cause warping to the boards.
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It's recommended to rotate books so they get the treatment every six months. [Bill
r That depends. If your leather is dry and powdery, nothing will really help. Conservators
will use a 5% soluction of Klucel-G in alcohol, but unless you've used it before, I advise
against it. The last thing you want to do is get old leather wet with water. It has the potential
to blacken the leather into a gross slime. This is because the water is solubolizing the acids
in the leather and essentially burning it up. There are leather dressings available which
should be used VERY sparingly, especially if the leather is cracked to avoid staining the
paper. For more information you can contact these two vendors: Bookbinder's Warehouse
(KarenC5071@aol.com) or Bookmakers (email@example.com). They'll both be able to
steer you to the right product. [Peter Verheyen]
r You can make a nice leather dressing with 60% lanolin (available from some drugstores)
and 40% Neat's foot oil (available from leather stores, hardware stores, etc.). Melt the
lanolin, preferably in a double boiler, and add the neat's foot oil, stir until well mixed, and
let cool. Some recipes call for cedar wax, bee's wax and other adjuncts, but the
lanolin/neat's foot oil does the job nicely and will not be found ten years from now to have
some harmful ingredient that was once considered benign. Read Middleton's book 'The
Restoration of Leather Bindings' for a good breakdown on the various treatments. The
above recipe will, for about ten bucks, make ten year's worth (unless you buy 100 leather
books a year!) [Greg]
r Try Fredelka Formula, made by Metalkem Ltd. PO Box 3, Haverford PA 19041. A 100-
gram can goes for about $7-10. I buy mine from a local bookseller. I don't know where he
gets it. It contains neatsfoot oil, beeswax and microwax (whatever that is). [Gerard
r Try ordinary Vaseline, the kind you get in any supermarket. [John Motavalli]
r I've heard that Vaseline will eventually dry out and possibly harm the leather. I use
Marney's conservation leather dressing. Got a bottle a few years back from a book binder. It
works good and lasts forever. Bet it's available on the net. [William Strawbridge]
q 4.16 Can I Fix A Cocked Or Slanted Spine?
r Here's one method a book dealer friend taught me, simpler in the doing than the saying: 1.
Put book on flat surface. 2. Open to 2nd page and run finger along left inside edge near
spine from top of book to bottom. 3. Open to last page - 2 and run finger along right inside
edge near spine from top of book to bottom (as above). 4. Repeat from front of book page
4. 5. Repeat from back of book page [last - 4] 6. Repeat pattern until you meet in the
middle. [Scot Kamins]
r I used to do this to prevent cocking in the first place, but it never seemed to work (though it
may work post facto). I like the suggestion on Biblio: simply turn the book upside down
and "read" it backwards. [Mark Wilden]
r On paperbacks, the books can be microwaved gently to warm the glue inside the spine. I
have seen several items in auctions of vintage paperbacks listed as, "microwaveable". This
process will usually correct off kilter or rolled spines. GO EASY !! don't cook 'em on high
for 4 days or anything like that. Suggested: 30 seconds on low setting. [Blake at LDC]
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q 4.17 How Do I Repair a Water Damaged Book?
r I know the [U.S.] NTSB (The National Transportation Safety Board) has used a "freeze-
drying" method in the case of aviation logbooks that have been submerged for as many as
fifteen years. The word is that the books come out of the process in "like new" condition.
q 4.18 Should I Remove Rusted Staples From a Pamphlet?
r Under most circumstances, any piece will retain more of its value if left as close to original
as possible. Trying to replace the staples could possibly lead to accidental damage. Also, It
is very unlikely that you could find staples the same size. If it were mine, I'd keep it dry and
hope for the best. [Mike Henry]
r It's hard to argue with Mike's position since what he says about value and originality are
true. Nevertheless, I find myself more and more going to the side that holds that something
(staples, here) which threatens the integrity and longevity of the main part of the original
should be removed if possible. Furthermore, staples, rusted or not, can cause a different
kind of damage. As the paper expands and contracts over the years due to humidity and
temperature it works against the inflexible staples and tears itself. One of the reasons old
Asian four-hole bindings have endured is that instead of something like staples a paper
string (koyori) is used. This expands and contracts at the same rate as the text block paper. I
would try to remove the staples carefully and either leave the pamphlet unstitched or
possibly restitch it with soft thread. Whether or not you decide to leave the staples in I
suggest deacidification with Wei-to or something similar. [Sam Lanham]
q 4.19 How Do I Halt Paper Deterioration?
r Nearly all books between about 1870 and almost the present time used acidic paper. After
about 100 years, most of them are so brittle they will disintegrate the first time you read
them. One treatment that will extend paper life is Bookkeeper or Wei T'o deacidification
sprays. It will take about $20 or $30 worth to treat an average book with Wei T'o. Note that
this will not restore the strenght of your brittle paper -- it will just slow down the
deterioration. Some ink, aspecially some colored ink, will get smeary -- test this before you
treat a whole book. That may be more of a problem with Wei T'o than with Bookkeeper --
not sure. [Christopher Mullin]
r Low temperatures and humidity are a big help. Don't let the books get *too* dry though --
20 or 30% is fairly good, and consistency of both temperature and humidity is much more
important than the exact numbers. Just remember that every time your book warms up in an
environment where there's also increasing moisture, it's as though you were dipping it into a
dilute acid bath. That's one argument for storing books that you might actually want to use
at temeperatures around 65 degrees F. It would be better to store them at a lower
temperature, but if you ever took them *out* of the low temperature area, you'd want to
warm them very, very gradually. If you keep them at aa constant 60 or 65 F., you can just
go into the storage room and use them there. [Christopher Mullin]
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q 4.20 How Do I Stop Binding Glue From Becoming Brittle?
r There are three main types of glue used in bookbinding. The most traditional is wheat paste,
made from flour and water. Also in use until the 20th century (and still used by some
oldtimers) is animal hide glue, which is heated and applied in essentially a molten state.
Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) is in popular use among bookbinders now. It has all the properties
of Elmer's Glue, except that it stays flexible when dry. There have been other glues used,
for example rubber cement, but they are all inferior to the three I named. [Steven D. Hales]
r Bookbinding glue needs to stay flexible, and not disintegrate and become friable. Not likely
with PVA, but with animal glue or cheap substitutes this happens. There's not too much you
can do. Most glues are either hydroscopic or thermoplastic, but you are taking a risk to use
water or heat around a book. Taking the book to a binder and having it reglued is the best
bet. [Steven D. Hales]
q 4.21 How Do I Pack Books When Moving?
r Definitely flat. And edges out, so the books are spine to spine in the box. And stuff any
space with crumpled bubble wrap or some such so the books don't rattle around. If you hear
anything when you shake the box, open it up and redo. [Parmer Books]
r Flat, and definitely not fore-edges down. I made the mistake of a short car ride from a
purchase, hit a single large bump (that I remember) and broke several book spines that way.
The weight of the page block forces the page block down, and the page block tears away
from the boards at the inside gutter. [John Kuenzig]
r The books should be placed flat and spine to spine for the different stacks. If you place
them spine-up, you risk weakening the hinges. If you have dust jackets, I assume you have
protected them already. When placing the books in the boxes you have to decide how much
and whether to include padding material. A lot depends on who will handle the boxes. A
box dropped on a corner can cause a lot of damage to the books inside. If at all possible, do
not store the boxes on a cement floor (ie garage) for any extended period of time. Cement
has a lot of moisture which can be drawn up into the dry cardboard box and dry paper
books. Water destroys books faster than fire. [James D. Keeline]
q 4.22 How Do I Get My Books Signed?
r The best way to get an autograph (barring a face-to-face meeting with the author) is to write
them care of their publisher, asking if you can send the book for their signature. Indicate
that you're willing to enclose both a return mailer and return postage. Be willing to wait on
their convenience, and if they indicate that they DON'T, for whatever reason, sign books,
don't force the issue. I also take the jacket off before mailing the book, just to be safe. [Bud
r I have had great luck sending a letter to the author (usually care of the publisher) asking if I
can send a book for signing. I always included a SASE, and got a 90% answer rate (and the
answer was always a signed letter!) About 40% said it was OK to send them books. Don't
ever send a book without asking permission first, unless you don't want to see the book
again. In these days of email, I still think you'll get a better response with snail mail.
Authors seem to have a "thing" about the printed word. [Mike Berro]
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q 4.23 Should I Rebind An Old Book?
r I would think twice about having it re-bound if I were you. Unless there's something really
wrong with the original binding, you could significantly lower the value by rebinding. An
alternative would be to have someone construct a slip-case of archival boards, or a
clamshell case made of the same material. This would protect it and keep it square and tight
without sacrificing the original binding. This is true even if the original "binding" is just a
drab paper cover. Of course, if you were making some kind of presentation copy for
someone and were having it bound in carved leather, or some other kind of custom, art-ish
binding (especially by someone well-known for their binding designs), that's a kettle of fish
of a different color. And, almost certainly, a damned expensive one. [Bud Webster]
r The value wouldn't be as significantly lowered for a non-fiction work as much as would be
the case for, say, hypermodern fiction, or Dickens in the original parts. For a scientific
monograph, a sizable number of the potential buyers will be scientists, who tend to be much
more interested in the contents than the state of the binding. The same is true in my
experience for ex-lib copies of standard scientific works; ex-lib condition lowers the value
some, but not as catastrophically as in the case of collectible fiction. (By "standard" I mean
works that are sound contributions to science, of interest mostly to specialists, but not
blockbusters like _Origin of Species_ or Audubon's _Birds of America_ or Cuvier's
_Recherces sur ossemens fossiles_. That's a whole 'nother kettle of Darwin fish.) [Ben
5. Book Terminology
q 5.1 What is the Difference Between "First Edition" and "First Printing"
r Discussion of book editions, printings & states hinges on the printing technology used.
From the time of Gutenberg in the later half of the 1400s to the first half of the 1800s the
usual printing methods used moveable type; individual letters, symbols and characters set
up on racks to form a mirror image of the desired text, and inked. Then paper is laid on top
and pressed so the image of the type is transferred to the paper. Traditionally, an edition is
all copies of a book printed from one setting of the type so the first edition is all copies
printed from the first setting of type, with the type being dispersed and reused for other
books. Reprinting would involve resetting the type from scratch which would allow for the
correction of typographical and editorial errors, revision by the author or editor, the
updating of information and expanding the amount of material covered. If the changes and
corrections are substantive enough the publisher will describe a later printing as a second,
revised, corrected or expanded edition. It is also possible to stop the printing process, reset a
small section (one miss-spelled word or perhaps an entire page) and then carry on. That
portion of the first printing/first edition before the pause would be the first state, after the
pause would be the second state. A leaf or gathering of leaves might be reprinted and
inserted into the book, replacing the original leaf or gathering even after the book was
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