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5 Ways to Take Care of Your Books

Updated on November 30, 2016

How to handle and store books that you love:

Do you love your real book collection? Want to know how to keep that collection in good shape?

If you answer yes to both questions, you and I have a lot in common. I have loved and cherished books for most of my life. Unfortunately I have made more than a few mistakes caring for my books. Now that I am a grown up and have had a lot of life experiences, I can share with you what I have learned.

I was very fortunate to have worked in a public library for many years and attended several workshops to learn how to repair books that were broken. Most of my knowledge about how to care for books, however, has come from reading articles and noticing what happened to my own collection.

If you keep on scrolling down, you will find a list of ways to take care of your real books so they can last a lifetime or two.

photo credit: Enokson via photo pin cc

Note: For antiquarian/old collectible books, you'll need specialist advice that is not covered by this article.

5 do-able tips for protecting your book collection: - Avoid extremes!

If you take care of your books, they can last a very long time. You just have to be diligent and neat.

  1. Avoid extreme heat!

    In other words, do not store your books in the attic--especially if it is not insulated. Heat will cause the paper to deteriorate. The pages will become brittle. If the book is a hardback one that has cloth on the cover, the heat will also destroy the fabric.

  2. Avoid dampness.

    Basements that are below ground or partially underground will be damp at least some of the time. Mildew is not a book's friend.

  3. Avoid direct sunlight.

    If you want the cover or the paper wrapper to not fade, then keep your valuable books out of the direct sun.

  4. Store books up-right on your shelf.

    Over-sized books (like coffee table books) can be stored flat. Do not let the books lean at a slant. That could cause the spine to get weak and permanently make the book crooked.

  5. Use a thin bookmark.

    Print your own bookmark. Here is a poem to use on your bookmark written by Janette Moore:

    Do's and Don't's for Library Lovers:

    I am a library book

    Treat me with care

    So I can be passed on

    To others and share

    My contents can be read

    From cover to cover

    Please turn my pages gently

    So I can recover

    Don't leave me open

    Just in case I am broken

    Please use a thin bookmark

    As a reminder token

    If by chance

    Should I need repair

    No sticky tape please

    Pass me to a Librarian for care

    I trust in you

    To care for me

    So I can be read


Do not let your books lean on a shelf
Do not let your books lean on a shelf

Store your books up-right on a shelf

or lay your oversized books flat, until you find some bookends.

There is one big "DON"T" in the above image.

Do not allow books to "lean" for a long period of time. Doing that will damage the spine and textblock and you might never get your book straight again. Use book ends or stack books flat. Stacking the books flat is not a widely recommended practice, but if it is the only way you can keep books from being on a slant, then so be it; buy bookends ASAP.

The shelves below are almost perfect.

These books are stored almost to perfection: - photo credit:

Not a bad looking shelf of books.
Not a bad looking shelf of books.

Book Ends to keep your books in line:

If you do not wish to purchase book ends, then stack several books flat and use that stack as a book end.

I highly recommend the first bookends you see below. They might not be pretty, but they are the best for keeping your book straight.

Jumbo Deluxe Metal Bookend (9") one pair
Jumbo Deluxe Metal Bookend (9") one pair

Bookends just like the library uses. I like these particular ones because they take up minimal space on the shelf. Non-skid.


Do You Keep Your Books-- - or pass them along?

What do you do with a book after you finish reading it? Do you save it or pass it along? If you save a book, where do you keep it? If you do not keep a book, then what do you do with it? Donate, toss or share? NOTE: this is not the guestbook.

Vote and then leave your comment:

Do you think that real, printed books should be saved and taken care of?

Yes! I save books and take good care of them.

Yes! I save books and take good care of them.

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    • Whistleman 4 years ago

      I have a hard time letting books go. Every now and then I'll give some away in a space-clearing purge. I always regret it later. It is hard to own a lot of books and take proper care of them...

    • madoc 4 years ago

      Yes, even the bad ones. We could lose all the Ayn Rand books, though, and the world would be a better place.

    • Roy_2012 5 years ago

      Yes, once I read a printed book, I take care to keep with carefully and try my best to keep it free of dust and mites, in a wooden shelf with closed glass windows.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I take great care of all of my books, but I only keep the ones I think I'll refer to again. I sell and/or donate the rest.

    • lilymom24 5 years ago

      Yes, while I do not save all of my books, I do save my favorites

    • Mauhro 5 years ago

      Absolutely. Books must be taken care of. I collect and i am proud of having and reading them. Ebooks away from me, i love the even the smell of pages :)

    No! I either toss it or pass it along.

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      No comments yet.

      Books: where do you get them?

      Where do you get your books to read?

      See results

      How NOT to save your place in a book: - Sadly, I have done this to my books. My bad.

      Do not leave an open book face down on a table
      Do not leave an open book face down on a table
      Use a bookmark to save your place. Do not bend down the corner of a page or use a pencil to save your place, either! Above all, do not place the book like the one shown in the image above.

      Image: vichie81 /

      A List of my online resources for information about book care:

      As stated before, I do a lot of reading. If you want to check out my resources, you are more than welcome to do so.

      Links to Hints for Handling your precious books:

      I am no expert, but I do read a lot about book care. If you have a question, I will gladly try to find the best answer for you.

      If you just want to leave a comment about how you feel about real, printed books, then please do.

      FYI: this is my guestbook for visitors. Thanks for visiting this page about caring for your books.

      A Guestbook: Are you inspired to take better care of your books? - Please sign in here so I know you care about your books.

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        • madoc profile image

          madoc 4 years ago

          I have to keep mybooks straighter on the shelves. My study is in the attic whch makes it the warmest room in the house :-(

        • TapIn2U profile image

          TapIn2U 5 years ago

          Thank you for the advice. I know now how to keep my books. Sundae ;-)

        • lilymom24 profile image

          lilymom24 5 years ago

          Yes, my printed books are important to me. My kids and husband like to read online or use the Kobo quite a bit but I still prefer my books.

        • profile image

          JoshK47 5 years ago

          Definitely good advice - I'm a big supporter of keeping our paper print industry alive, and preserving the books we have. Blessed by a SquidAngel!

        • Camden1 profile image

          Camden1 5 years ago

          I prefer real, printed books, but I usually get my books from the library. I can't afford to buy as many books as my family reads!