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10 Ways to Preserve Your First Edition Rare Books

How to Care for Valuable Books

When it comes to rare and antiquarian books, they should receive the utmost care. Making sure that rare books remain in the best condition is critical for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is because some rare books are a piece of history. Such a piece of history should remain in the best condition possible. Secondly, if you’re in the bookselling, buying, or trading business, they retain more value the better the condition. Not all the time, but generally speaking the better the condition, the more money the book is going to be worth, but, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. So, what are some the best practices in caring and handling your books? Check out our list below.

Tips for Care and Handling Rare Books

  1. Carefully examine every book before handling it. Make a note of its weaknesses and take care when handling the book around its spine or dust jacket.
  2. Do not open book more than 90 degrees. This will save wear and stress on the hinges and joints of the book. There are some exceptions to this rule, large folios and some securely bound quartos, but as a rule, carefully examine first.
  3. Only touch individual leaves by their edges. If the leaves of the book don’t separate, don’t force them apart.
  4. Do not pull directly on the book’s spine when removing from a shelf. Instead, pull back on the text block or push the surrounding book in, to push the book you would like out.
  5. Ensure that books are well supported on a shelf. To avoid a cocked book, do not allow them to lie at an angle. Books lying like this adds stress to hinges and joints.
  6. Certain books like folios and thick quartos are best kept laid flat. However, do not stack them too high. This will cause the binding on the books on the bottom to become cocked.
  7. Keep books out of indirect and direct sunlight.
  8. Never use a sticky note in a book. The adhesive on a sticky note will cause damage to the binding and paper of the book.
  9. If you are photocopying, use the utmost caution. Opening the book too much can cause the binding to split or crack.
  10. Be careful of what you lay on top of a book. A simple piece of paper is acceptable, but a large weighted stack can cause stress on the book damaging its spine.

In some respects, a book just isn’t a book; it’s a piece of history – a piece of art. Treating rare books with respect and handling them properly is essential for their longevity.