A Very Small Tip for Booksellers and Owners

Which–you all probably already know! But if you are like me when I first started, this book dilemma was perplexing and I’d no solution.

If you have a hardcover, or to a lessor extent, paperback, that is cocked, meaning all the pages list to one side, there is a way to set them correct without harming the book.

Sometimes after a book is read, the binding and spine have an uneven look to it, a definite tilting. The front cover slides over pushing the spine over as well, so you have the front boards uneven with the back, and the pages cocked as well.

A book in a  badly cocked condition can hinder a sale, and if the book is collectible, lower its value.

A former boss and expert in collectible books showed me the simple solution.

Open the book to a area near the back, and begin to slowly and carefully to open a few pages at a time–not too many, not too little, just an amount that is easily managed. From the top of the spine area of the open pages–in the center, press firmly down the crease. Go to the next area of a few pages on, and repeat. Depending on how tilted the book is, you will continue to do this until the book is perfectly even. Stand it up, and see how the boards and pages look.

If the book isn’t badly cocked, only do as many pages as warranted, or the result will be a book now cocked in the opposite direction.

The key is to be gentle enough to move the pages back to where they belong, but not too gentle that it doesn’t work. And vice versa-if too rough, you could damage the book, especially if there are spine and binding issues.

I was amazed at how simple and effective this process was. A first edition in jacket came in and was horribly cocked. The price reflected this. After doing the simple task for a few minutes, it looked like it hadn’t been read. And the owner was able to resell, at a much better profit.

I hope this hasn’t been too redundant for those who already knew this. And I hope it may have helped some people too!


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  • Good one, Dianne. I like simple easy fixes. I’m going to try it out on some throwaways first until I’m sure I know what I’m doing.

    • Hello Bob! Did I make sense? It seems so simple when I do it, but explaining seemed very difficult! Let me know how it works out for you.

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  • I tried this today. I hope I did it right. It did improve the book, but it was still observably cocked. I suspect I will have to play with the factors, try different pressures, different numbers of pages and all that. But it did improve the book a great deal. When I tried it a second time on the same book it did not noticeably make a difference. Is trying it a second or third time (with different pages?)usually useful? It could just be this particular book, which was a cookbook with slightly thicker than normal pages.

    Thanks for the tip!

    • Yes, do it as many times as need be. Usually I find that if it didn’t improve it enough, to take smaller amounts of pages and press a little stronger. it is something that has to be adjusted book by book. Let me know if it works better.

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