October 17, 2022
The best way to protect the old books you want to read is to treat them gently. But, honestly, it depends on what the book is made of. For example, paperbacks will show more wear and tear, cracks, and the like, whereas hardback books are less likely to show every little crease and crack.
Be extremely careful about opening the book and turning the pages. Don't bend it too far to either side. This is far more difficult with a paperback book than with a hardbound book. For the latter, never, EVER lie the book face down and open.
When you see books standing on a library shelf with a crooked spine, it's nearly always because careless or unaware readers flopped the volume down with the two hardcovers up. Unfortunately, handling your books in this way weakens the spine.
Let us dive into the details of how to hold while reading an antique or vintage book and see if we are doing it right.
Reading with two hands will prevent undue stress from being placed on the book's binding pages. However, because of its fragility, size, or weight, a book should never be held in two hands; instead, it should be placed on a table or held on your lap.
Avoid bending book covers while reading paperbacks. Restoring them to their natural form might be challenging and frequently damages the spine. Instead, if you have a book you can't put down and want to keep, make an investment in reading copies.
Books used to be sewn together, but that made them more expensive. Now the spines are glued together, and glue can crack easily. It's going to happen. To avoid cracking the spine of your vintage or antique book, open it gently to the point where you can read all the pages but not so far that it breaks. If you hear a crack, that is where the spine will split as you will have damaged the spine.
Press your fingertips down the crease along the page length while holding the book vertically and fully opening the front cover at 90 degrees. Next, turn the back cover 90 degrees and run your fingertips down the page's crease as you continue to hold the front cover open. Always turn pages one at a time—never multiple pages at once.
Are you frustrated by book terms when browsing for vintage or antique books online? Have you ever read the description of the condition of a book and assumed you were reading a secret code? Don't worry; you're not alone. To help you, I have collected a glossary of standard terms booksellers use to determine books' condition; you can find these here.
Never ever fold the top of the pages as a reminder mark when you decide to take a break; use bookmarks with threads.
While using bookmarks rather than folding back the pages is better for your books; if they are excessively big and thick, they might weaken the glue in the book's spine. This will cause the binding to become unreliable. On the other hand, the likelihood of ripping pages while reading the book will be decreased if you use smaller, thinner bookmarks.
If the book has a damaged spine, it may be stored vertically with its spine facing downward rather than stacked flat and horizontally. If that's the case, you will want to be very careful as you lift and move the book to a flat surface. Otherwise, individual pages may rip loose from the force of gravity alone.
The acids in human skin are far more corrosive than in books written on paper. So use page-turners to reduce touch. Similar in style to those disposable nail files you can use for your fingernails, page-turners are little, slender sticks. These page-turners can be carefully placed beneath a single page to raise and turn it without pinching the page with your finger. They are smooth and made of plastic or wood.
You should avoid using gloves when handling your prized old or antique books since they increase the chance of snagging on page edges. In addition, wearing gloves makes it more challenging to feel the book being dragged or twisted. Instead, just wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling.
I understand that people worry about ruining a book with their bare hands, but gloves may do more harm than good. Use your best judgment.
I hope you find these tips helpful when you read and enjoy your vintage or antique book. The most effective way to read is—carefully but your way. Read in the way that makes the book most enjoyable. For more tips to protect the books in your library learn more right here.
Pam of Reading Vintage
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