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It’s not easy being a book lover. Not only do we enjoy the act of reading books, but we also love collecting them, in hopes of reading them all—some day! But where do we keep them in the meantime?

And how do we store the ones we treasure to make sure we preserve them for our lifetimes, or even to pass on to our future kids and grandkids?  

Learning to store books properly will ensure that you can give your books a longer lifespan so they can spread joy for generations to come.

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What Is the Best Way to Store Books?

In order to make sure you take the best care of your books, it’s important to understand how the book’s environment and conditions can affect its quality.

1. Understand the effect of climate.

Paper, being made of organic material, degrades over time. Although pests and rodents that chomp away at paper are our worst enemies, less visible things like mold, fungi, and bacteria can also cause books to deteriorate in terms of quality. 

Low Temperatures

How is the climate where you live? Lower temperatures keep living organisms from comfortably multiplying. Take this into account when finding a place to store your books. Opt for the coolest space possible, with no more than 75 degrees Fahrenheit being the ideal temperature. 

Pay attention to changing seasons, as well: for example, during the summer, attics tend to be the hottest part of the house, while in winter, they can be the coldest part, because they’re usually left unheated. If you store your books in the attic, make sure to provide sufficient airflow during the summer. 

Low Humidity

Also check the humidity in your storage space: highly humid spaces breed mold and fungi, which is why bathrooms tend to be the most mold and fungi-infested spaces in the house.

The attic is a common place for people to store books, but just make sure it doesn’t have a leak, or else your books might end up getting musty and moldy. 

On the other hand, too little humidity may also cause your book pages to become brittle and eventually to break off. 

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No UV Light 

Paper exposed to too much ultraviolet rays tends to yellow, and its ink can fade. So while you may love to read in a room flooded by natural light, remember to store your books away from the sun when you’re not reading them!

2. Consider pest control.

One of the biggest heartbreaks that booklovers can face is when termites or rodents feast on their prized print possessions!

Here are some tips to help you prevent pests from nibbling on your book pages: 

  • Avoid getting food on your books. Any scent of food or drink is a sure way of luring little mice and literal bookworms into your collection.  
  • Soak cotton balls in mint and put them where mice tend to pass (and not directly on your books). The scent is known for discouraging mice. 
  • Sprinkle insect powder or pepper around your books. Remember, do not sprinkle them directly on your books. 
  • Place camphor near your shelves to keep bookworms at bay. 

3. Use the right containers.

Although most of us would prefer to have bookshelves to store our books, that’s not always possible—especially since serious book lovers might stock up on too many books for their available space!

So what’s a book hoarder to do? One option is to use the right container to store them. Take a look at this rundown of different containers that people often use to store books: 

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  • Cardboard box: This is one of the most common storage options for books. However, make sure that the box did not previously store food, or else the scent will attract pests and bugs. Also, consider that cardboard boxes are the most prone to humidity. 
  • Plastic box: More expensive than cardboard, plastic boxes come in different sizes and shapes and are a great way to keep moisture out of your books. However, plastic boxes can intensify the effect of sunlight on their contents, so just make sure you store them away from windows.
  • Wooden crates: The increasing popularity of repurposed furniture has more people opting for wooden crates as a storage option for books. While they are pretty as decoration, wood, like cardboard, is prone to moisture. Plus, wooden crates sometimes come with slats and spaces, so you won’t be able to keep pests away. 

4. Protect your books.

Although book jackets primarily serve as protection for the book during shipping and handling, there’s no reason to toss them once they’re in your possession. 

Keeping book jackets on will help protect your hardcovers from scuffing, scratching, and even the drips of maple syrup that may accidentally get onto your book (in case you didn’t follow that rule about no food!). Another way of protecting your books is to cover them in plastic or contact paper.

5. Regularly dust your books.

Storing your books is one way of taking good care of them, but no matter how perfectly you store them, they will still collect dust one way or another. The more open your storage space is, the more prone they will be to gathering dust. 

When dusting your books, start from the spine and move towards the edge of the pages. You can also vacuum your books, but make sure you use the brush attachment to avoid sucking up loose or torn pages.

6. Place them in the right position.

Should books be stored flat or upright? Is there really a right way to store books? Definitely yes! The best position is to have them standing up with their spines facing outward. (Remember, this is how books are stored in libraries!) 

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

The second best choice, if you’re not able to stand them up, is to stack them, with the largest books forming the base and moving your way up like a pyramid. This will keep your books from toppling over and falling. 

Meanwhile, when storing books in boxes, make sure you stack hardcover books, with their spines facing each other; for paperback books, put the first stack with the pages facing the side of the box, and the next row will have their pages meeting the spines of the first stack. Also stack the same-sized books together to save space. 

Protect Your Books in Storage

When you store your books, your goal is to make sure they stay intact over the years, whether you intend to use them again in your lifetime or to pass them on to your children or grandchildren.

And if you find that you’re overloaded on books that you’re no longer interested in, there are plenty of ways to sell your used books, which could give you some extra cash to spruce up your home library or buy more books!

How do you prefer to store your books? Share your tips in the comments below!


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