How To Take Care of Your Book Collection

As you complete your college education, you should be beginning to amass an impressive personal library—one you should continue to build throughout your life. But having a full complement of books isn’t as simple as buying them, shelving them, and otherwise leaving them alone. You’ll need to do basic upkeep for most of your books, along with some specific TLC for others. Here’s a look at how to take care of your book collection so the books you read and treasure from your college years will be in condition to pass down for generations.

Caring for Paperbacks

Paperback books, owing to their low cost and expectation of wear, may seem like they’re undeserving of care. But the fragility of paperbacks gives you all the more reason to keep them in good condition—these mass-produced books could easily go out of print and end up much less fungible than you think. Keep paperbacks out of direct sunlight to prevent the covers from fading and the paper from yellowing. Avoid storing them in humid conditions, which can swiftly degrade the pages of any book. And though it may seem obvious, always be sure to dust—dust particles can have an acidic pH, which will slowly but surely eat away at paper.

Caring for Hardcovers

Hardcover books, unlike paperbacks, are built to last. Nevertheless, even your hardcovers require attention to keep them in good shape. Though most hardcover books come with dust jackets, you may lose these to spills or general wear and tear. If that’s the case, re-cover your book with a new dust jacket. The spines of hardcovers need to be kept in good shape, too. Avoid stacking books with their spines or openings facing down, both off which place heavy stress on spines and can easily cause pages to fall out. Keep books upright or stacked on their sides.

Caring for Leather-Bound Books

One step above the hardcover book is the leather-bound book. Trips to the rare books sections of your university library may remind you of the historical primacy of leather binding, and today, a leather-bound edition of any book is quite rare indeed. If you have a leather-bound book in your collection, it’s most likely an edition of the Bible, which means you’ll have a particular interest in its maintenance. Just as a leather-bound book is most likely the centerpiece of your library, the work you do to keep it in good condition is the most important part of how to take care of your book collection. As with paper covers, you’ll want to keep leather out of direct sunlight, especially because of how UV rays can damage the leather. Avoid trapping moisture between the leather and a protective cover—it’ll cause more harm than good—and keep the leather from growing dry and cracked by opening the book regularly.


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