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Although most Americans spend several hours every day in front of a screen, we still love to participate in lower-tech activities like reading. In fact, U.S. residents read an average of 12 books every year, which means you might get through a new one every month. But there may also be the classics you pull down from the shelf and read over and over again. Whether you bring home a recent best-seller from the bookstore or check out an old favorite from your local library, it’s important to do everything you can to preserve these valuable resources. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy them for years to come. Here are just a few clever tricks to prevent damage to your books.

  • Be More Hygienic: Think about your reading habits for a moment. Do you like to curl up with a good book and a delicious snack? Do you often take in a chapter or two while sipping a cup of coffee or tea? While that sounds like a perfectly cozy morning or afternoon, this routine will make it more likely for crumbs to get caught in the pages or for something to spill. If you want to keep your books in good condition, it’s recommended that you either adjust your routine to keep foods and drinks away or to keep a towel close by in case you have to clean up.
  • Always Use a Bookmark: There are those who tend to dog-ear pages or turn a book upside down to keep track of the place in which they stopped reading. While these methods are rather convenient, they can also be quite damaging to books. Whether you’re reading a paperback or a hard-cover book, you could easily hurt the pages or the spine if you employ these techniques over time. Rather than having to rely on book spine tape to repair all of your covers, consider carrying a bookmark with you at all times. You might want to invest in a beautiful, high-quality bookmark (rather than a cheap stand-in) to encourage this habit. This will ensure that both the pages and the spine remain intact.
  • Store and Transport Properly: Your books must be stored and transported in ways that will preserve their integrity. You should ensure that you store books in places with low humidity levels, as excessive moisture can warp pages and even encourage mold growth. Both temperatures and humidity levels should remain consistent. If you need to store books for a longer period, you might want to envelop them in bubble wrap or acid-free paper towels to prevent debris build-up. When books are stored in boxes, the paper edges should face the inside of the box to alleviate warping and page folding. Book boxes should be stored in elevated areas to provide protection in the event of a flood or leak. If you’re taking your book with you to the park or on a trip, pop it in a plastic bag first to keep moisture out and to prevent spills or other damage.
  • Repair as Soon as Possible: Unfortunately, accidents can still happen. Even if you’ve taken substantial precautions, it’s possible that you may need to consider book spine repair at some point (especially if you collect first editions or have inherited older titles from a family member). It’s best if you can make these repairs sooner rather than later — or take action to prevent them altogether! Using book spine tape can strengthen this vulnerable area and prevent subsequent damage. Some people will even utilize book tape as soon as they bring a book home for the sake of preservation. If it’s simply too late to try book spine tape on a damaged book, you may be able to use certain glues to fix a separated cover or to secure pages that have come unattached.

When you bring home a new book, you’ll want to do everything possible to preserve it. By refraining from messy eating habits, remembering to use a bookmark, storing and transporting it with care, and using book spine tape, you’ll be able to keep your book in great condition for the foreseeable future.