Dirty Books

Just recently I was offered a batch of books at a good price but – take all or no deal. So we took them all, about 200.

Obviously or first step was to sort the into A’s and B’s. A’s are 1st Editions, books we know are good, old paperbacks in good condition and others that tickle our fancy (and how we love that!). So does Fancy. Generally we avoid “like New” recent popular sellers since they sell for almost nothing.

The problem with this lot was that some had been stored in a garage and were “stinky” Unless they had a value of over $20.00 and in good condition we dumped them. Of the few we kept we used the two prong approach to get them saleable.. First seal them in a bag of baking soda for about 5 days. When you take them out you will discover that about 80% will be odorless. Take the residue and put the them (individually) in the microwave for a minute a time. This will probably clear the problem. We are told that Charcoal will take care of that too.

The amount if time you spend on this is determind by the value of the book.

The next step is to clean up the book. Alcohol seem to be the best for any shiny surfaces, like wrappers, coated stockcover, cloth covers and paperbacks. Generally it gets rid of most of the soil and brings up the shine. Alcohol will let you peel off any unwanted stickers about 90% of the time.

If a book is water soiled and now completely dry you have few options. You can put it up for sale if it is light soiled and tell the customer or, if it is heavy, toss it. We have boxes of unsellable books which we deliver to Old Folks Homes, The Humane Society etc., and ask for a receipt. You can use this receipt for your taxes as donation.

We also use “Simple Green” on cloth covers. It will remove most of the dirt Alcohol doesn’t. My wife will use “GOOP OFF” on some labels, but I won’t touch the stuff. It stinks to high heaven and is bad for my lungs.

NEVER EVER use Chlorine.

Another tip is to use shoe cream or furniture wax on really shiny expensive volumes. My choice is Meltonian white, but what ever you try test it on a tiny area first.

Broken books. Not a lot you can do unless it is the spine broken away from the body. Lot’s of times you can use double face tape and put them back together. But this has to be strong tape. My favorite is to buy it from an Awards shop. They use it for sticking Metal Plaques to wooden backs, sticking trophies to bases etc., so it has to be tough. It is white so make sure you don’t use it where it can be seen, I think, by now, they also use transparent tape

Now we come to a part that may create some dissension – Wrappers.

We ALWAYS try to repair them, using Acid Free transparent tape. We don’t do this to hide faults but more as a protective measure. Any tear on a wrapper will, in time, get worse. We feel that not trying to stop this is wrong and we nearly always use a tiny piece of tape at the bottom of the tear, but always on the backside. We would never put tape on the printed side.

Packaging always was a task but we read about corrugated mailing boxes and using staples to seal them. We thought it a great idea and went to the Post Office for advice. They are a nice lot at ours and always try to help. Their only suggestion was to put some tape over the staples to avoid PO workers from getting cuts or scratches.

We had a batch of three inch rolls of strong Industrial transparent tape and decided to use this for the cover. Lo and behold, we didn’t need the staples. The tape sealed the end perfectly. It may work with the standard tape, I don’t see why not. We use the three inch because we can get it very cheaply.

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