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The Etiquette of Bookkeeping

Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
edited June 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey there guys. I read. Not a crazy amount but I have a budding collection of books going. I mostly pick up hardcovers as they just feel more solid and have a genuine feeling that a paperback just doesn't have an a sense of permanence that an ebook just doesn't have yet. I was wondering what are some good habits in keeping my books in nice tide order on my shelf.

Are bookends actually functional in keeping books from leaning and slowly bearing down on their bindings or just simple decor? How best to keep my books dust free? It will probably be a good idea to keep them out of direct sunlight, yes?

Also, can I remove book jackets without worrying about any harm? I usually read in bed so they will probably be safe from the elements. Probably. I am not particularly fond of them and there is something about having that stiff cardboard cover feeling.

Thoughts?

Lucky Cynic on

Posts

  • JansonJanson Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Are bookends actually functional in keeping books from leaning and slowly bearing down on their bindings or just simple decor?

    Yes, but obviously this will depend upon the type of bookends you pick up and the type of books you're keeping upright.

    What I usually do is have the larger, heavier books at either end of a shelf. Not only do they help support the books upright on their own, but that way the most weight isn't in the middle of a bookshelf. Okay, so this makes it a little bit harder to keep things in alphabetical order, but it's really only on the shelves where the books greatly differ in size.

    You'll probably want tallish, weighty book-ends.
    How best to keep my books dust free?

    Your best best is really to have them in shelves that have a glass door. Otherwise, I haven't yet discovered an easy solution. For dusting I usually try and blow any dust off, or remove the book to shake the dust off, as with dusters you just end up scuffing the pages often.
    It will probably be a good idea to keep them out of direct sunlight, yes?

    Most definitely! I have seen books fade quite sharply within a matter of just a few months. I have a couple of really nice book cases that have an ugly dual-tone box cover going on thanks to sunlight.
    Also, can I remove book jackets without worrying about any harm?

    Yes.

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  • Anarchy Rules!Anarchy Rules! Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Hardbacks are pretty resilient things and won't need any exceptional care above the norm. Bookends are useful, particularly for paperbacks that don't have cover to support them.

    My bookcase is in front of a window, and this has led to the bleaching of the spines. I don't think it causes any structural damage however.

  • JansonJanson Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Also:

    Damp is also a huge problem in books. Make sure the room you're storing them in is nice and dry, and leave space both behind and in front of the books. At the same time, however, you want the place you store them in to be cool. So cool + lowish humidity (suggested is 50% humidity)

    And if you're removing the covers, perhaps store them somewhere, maybe a binder with plastic pockets, so they can be kept flat and damage free?

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    50% seems pretty high for consistent humidity. My indoor humidity tends to fluctuate between 25 (winter) and 45 (summer), but we have air conditioning and the house is reasonably sealed. Libraries try to keep their humidity close to 30%, but most important is the stability. The same is true for musical instruments (which is why I have an indoor hygrometer, and can say my room right now is 30%).


    For covers, I dislike them while reading but for shelving I tend to leave them on. Stuff like light damage only hits the covers, then, which means they're doing their job. When they get beat up or deteriorate to the point of being useless, you can throw them away, but they serve a lot of good purposes. You can use them to write notes or catalog the books without marking the book itself, for example. But plenty of books are stored without them, so they're not necessary.

    As for bookends, they serve an important purpose on unfilled shelves. Books should be stored upright and straight, with no leaning -- leaning will damage the binding. You also don't want to overstuff your shelves. So if you have an unfilled shelf, a bookend will help keep your books upright until you get more books. And don't stuff books just to keep a catalog system in place -- just go on to the next shelf, or mix things up a bit at the ends. The best bookends are heavy as shit -- think cast iron!

    Regular dusting is worthwhile as well, as letting dust accumulate on the pages will eventually get pretty thick, and it's much harder to clean the edges at that point. I prefer HC books too, and one way to really help your collection -- and the ease of maintaining the books -- is to buy high quality editions. Not all hardcovers are equivalent. I have some beautiful Franklin Library books that will probably outlast me. But I also have a hardcover Brave New World cheapy that is starting to fall apart. Newer copies are going to last longer than older copies, not just due to age but because the paper used now is typically higher quality.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I love me some books, but I'd be careful about how many you acquire. I've just moved, and moving seven or eight boxes of books around is a real pain.

    As for keeping off the dust, enclosed book shelves are the way to go.

  • JansonJanson Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    EggyToast wrote: »
    50% seems pretty high for consistent humidity. My indoor humidity tends to fluctuate between 25 (winter) and 45 (summer), but we have air conditioning and the house is reasonably sealed. Libraries try to keep their humidity close to 30%, but most important is the stability. The same is true for musical instruments (which is why I have an indoor hygrometer, and can say my room right now is 30%).

    I just took that figure off an archival guide online, I've never measured humidity levels myself. You're right, stability is most important.

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  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Sooo, just curious, but what is a good way to measure the humidity in a room?

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    My "portable" (Honeywell?) humidifier came with a cheap little humidity gauge. Could ask friends if they have one laying around.

    Otherwise there seem to lots for sale on-line, most report temp & humidity.

    Also a weather rock:

    wet = humidity
    dry = no humidity

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Most decent dehumidifiers will have a reading on them. Mine has a setting that will keep the room at or around the humidity level you set, by adjusting the fan speed and turning on/off. The humidity level is displayed at all times as well.

    It's 60% down here right now.

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  • scrivenerjonesscrivenerjones Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I opened this thread thinking it was going to be about QuickBooks. Damn you.

  • SolandraSolandra Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Corvus wrote: »
    I love me some books, but I'd be careful about how many you acquire. I've just moved, and moving seven or eight boxes of books around is a real pain.

    As for keeping off the dust, enclosed book shelves are the way to go.

    If you collect enough books to have twelve or fifteen boxes or more, be a good friend and hire movers instead of asking for help from your buddies. And then be a good client and never pack books in a box bigger than a copy-paper box; this will help you at the other end in unpacking as well.

    Dust is a fact of life; I swiffer the fronts occasionally, but every year or so (or 6 months if you're feeling froggy) unshelve each section and dust thoroughly with Pledge or whatever dust removal compound you prefer. This also lets you check for mold, dry rot, bugs, etc. The worst day of my adult life was finding out that termites in my apartment had eaten the covers of most of my videotapes, including classic edition Star Wars, and the damage to one shelf of books isn't worth discussing. It was actually worse than the day I realized my marriage was over.

    Needless to say, I didn't live there for much longer.

  • WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Absolutely keep them out of sunlight - I work in a bookstore and we only keep the absolute cheapest books on the shelf infront of the window because they fade within a week or two.

    Avoid moisture. Also, standing books up at all is bad for paperbacks, so if you have paperbacks they should be lying on their side (unfortunately for stores this makes them hard to display, so this rule is broken in almost every bookstore.)

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Sooo, just curious, but what is a good way to measure the humidity in a room?

    Buy a hygrometer. You can buy a digital one for $10 that will also tell you the temperature. I bought mine at Target; they're usually around the fans/heaters.

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  • localh77localh77 Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I opened this thread thinking it was going to be about QuickBooks. Damn you.

    Me too, talk about misleading. This thread isn't about bookkeeping or etiquette. :P

  • SolandraSolandra Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    localh77 wrote: »
    I opened this thread thinking it was going to be about QuickBooks. Damn you.

    Me too, talk about misleading. This thread isn't about bookkeeping or etiquette. :P

    Oh, I dunno, books, should always be treated with polite courtesey, particularly with the nook and kindle and other ereaders cropping up on the scene.

  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Solandra wrote: »
    localh77 wrote: »
    I opened this thread thinking it was going to be about QuickBooks. Damn you.

    Me too, talk about misleading. This thread isn't about bookkeeping or etiquette. :P

    Oh, I dunno, books, should always be treated with polite courtesey, particularly with the nook and kindle and other ereaders cropping up on the scene.

    To me, there is just something about the tactile feedback. The weight, the covers, the pages- it all feels real. And having a big ole bookshelf with hundreds of books looks really sharp. Other people buy bulk encyclopedias or whatever, but a bookshelf that you can pull out any random book and remember reading it, that's just something that ereaders don't offer satisfaction for. At least, in my opinion.

  • Smug DucklingSmug Duckling Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Man, I had hoped this thread would be about running a gambling ring. :P

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  • altmannaltmann Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I find it's best to reconcile accounts earlier in the week to be able to resolve any issues with my bank and not have to wait over a weekend.

    Also, while online banking can be a lifesaver, a checkbook or general ledger will never have a database error or go offline.

    Wait... like Book BOOKS?

    I'm embarassed by 90% of my books (paperback sci-fi) so that shit goes in a bankers box (nice tie in!) in my garage.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Solandra wrote: »
    Corvus wrote: »
    I love me some books, but I'd be careful about how many you acquire. I've just moved, and moving seven or eight boxes of books around is a real pain.

    As for keeping off the dust, enclosed book shelves are the way to go.

    If you collect enough books to have twelve or fifteen boxes or more, be a good friend and hire movers instead of asking for help from your buddies. And then be a good client and never pack books in a box bigger than a copy-paper box; this will help you at the other end in unpacking as well.

    Dust is a fact of life; I swiffer the fronts occasionally, but every year or so (or 6 months if you're feeling froggy) unshelve each section and dust thoroughly with Pledge or whatever dust removal compound you prefer. This also lets you check for mold, dry rot, bugs, etc. The worst day of my adult life was finding out that termites in my apartment had eaten the covers of most of my videotapes, including classic edition Star Wars, and the damage to one shelf of books isn't worth discussing. It was actually worse than the day I realized my marriage was over.

    Needless to say, I didn't live there for much longer.

    I had movers, its still a pain in the ass. :P

  • MurphyMurphy Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Honestly, I think you're over thinking it. Unless you live in a sauna or a room constantly filled with blinding sunlight, you should be fine. I have an entire wall of books in my apartment and have for years. They are pretty low-maintenance. Just have a sturdy shelf or bookcase that can handle the weight. If you don't want to buy bookends, and don't have closed-ended shelves, I just turn a few heavy books on their sides and stack them up to form natural bookends.

    And I will concur. Movers or not, when you've got a lot of books, moving them is a bitch.

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