Tag: For the Love of Books

Why Books Make FANTASTIC Mother’s Day Gifts

Why Books Make FANTASTIC Mother’s Day Gifts

Bronze Anthology Holiday Tips Why Books Make FANTASTIC Mother’s Day Gifts Tired of giving the same ol’ gift to your dear sweet mum? We can’t blame you; it’s easy to make the mistake of being a lame gift giver. We’ve all been there! But you 

Standing Tall – Caring for Book Spines

Standing Tall – Caring for Book Spines

Standing Tall – Caring for Book Spines Books need support too. We often turn to our old favorites or new discoveries for lessons or relief in our lives, but those pages need our help. When the pages are bound together, they form a textblock and 

How to Handle Books

How to Handle Books

How to Handle Books

There are several things that many so called book “lovers” do that can be quite irritating: such as writing or highlighting, dog-earring pages, attaching ex-libris stickers, or otherwise damaging a book. But there is nothing as frustrating as seeing other book dealers and book resellers mishandling books. This can range from splitting up complete sets, throwing books on the floor, flipping antique books open with little regard for their age, filling up a bag full of books that looks like Santa Claus’ sack, etc. In other words, instead of having some foresight into how the future owner might feel, they mishandle and ruin the integrity of a collectible book.

Observe Before Handling

Questions to Ask
Before you grab any book, you should observe and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it a hardcover or softcover?
    • Softcovers can be a bit clumsy at times since their textblocks swell at the foreedge, so removing one might remove several others. Hardcovers usually have dust jackets and require extra care when retrieving.
  • What is the approximate age of the book?
    • Age matters! The older it is, the more likely it is to be brittle, fragile, and delicate.
  • Does it have a dust jacket?
    • The value of a dust jacket on a rare and collectible book can sometimes be as much as the book itself. Take every step necessary to ensure the safety of a dust jacket.
  • What type of material is the book made of?
    • This is pertinent for books bound in leather as it is sensitive to change and can begin to deteriorate from a change in its environment (such as light, heat, moisture). Those with sweaty palms might consider the use of gloves when dealing with certain book materials, particularly those of age.
  • Do I have an idea of the value of this book?
    • While one could hope a book worth a $1 would get the same treatment as one worth $1,000 or more, we realize it is not practical. But what if the book you’re holding is a rare gem, how would you treat it?

Book Retrieval
After you’ve ran through some basic observation questions in your mind, the next thing you should do before picking up a book is evaluate the surrounding area. Check the other books in the immediate vicinity and see if there is sufficient space to pull out the book. Particularly for books on a bookshelf and not in a display case, try and determine if the books on the same shelf will shift and what you can do to prevent yourself harm or the books unnecessary damage. Many times a bookshelf will be packed so tightly that removing a desired book will cause damage to it. For instance, books with dust jackets, that are not yet fitted with a mylar cover, tend to have small creases and tears at the extreme edges of the jacket. These can easily chip further or snag when you are trying to remove the book from its shelf space. After evaluating the surrounding area, make any necessary adjustments by moving other books on the shelf. Always be careful with other books; it would be a shame to damage a valuable book because you were too eager to remove your imminent selection and failed to ensure the well-being of the other items on the shelf.

Especially if you’re looking at another person’s collection, it would behoove you to ask permission first as some collectors would prefer to handle them for you, want you to wear gloves, etc. For example, if you’re at a book fair, they might have signs posted not to handle their books or to ask for assistance. You should respect their wishes! Being a courteous buyer can lead to the possibility of a discount or even future leads on books that you want to purchase.

Use Firm Hands, Light Fingers

Once you’ve observed the area and are ready to pull the book from the shelf or pick it up from its display, you should “think light” with your fingertips and move slowly. Many books are delicate or were previously mishandled. Your goal is to handle a book and return it in the same condition as it was before you looked through it. If the book is on a shelf, do not pull it from its shelf space by grabbing the top spine head. Instead, you should either 1. pinch the binding in the middle of the spine with your finger tips or 2. remove a surrounding book that you know can be removed safely, then take out the book you want. Carefully, slide the book out of its place and hold it with firm hands.

Once in your hands, DO NOT open the book fully. This is the most important thing you can do, and sadly, it is the most common action that people take. What happens when a book is fully opened, especially when people lay the book open flat on a table, is that the bound textblock pulls itself apart at the page you’ve opened along with other delicate sections of the book. This is known as cracking a book, and will cause the binding to eventually detach from itself. If you are not careful, you can even cause an entire signature of pages to detach from the textblock.

Types of Binding Damage

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, rather, a short list of the most common binding damage you will encounter due to carelessness. In order of increasing damage (slight to worst), these are terms of what can happen if you mishandle a book, fail to take care of it, or forcibly open a book beyond what is necessary:

Hard Crease – This can occur during the binding process, as a result of the natural separation between page signatures, or as a result of someone opening a book and creasing the pages apart with their hand.
Spine Lean – Also known as cocked. Usually the result of a heavier book left on top of a lighter book, the front and rear covers will no longer line up and one foreedge will stick out farther over the textblock than the other. Also, the spine might be offset or crooked when you look from one end of the spine to the other.
Cracked – You can have several “cracks” in a book and they can start as a hard crease, or as a result of poor binding material or process. These are typically seen internally but can exist externally on the spine. There are varying degrees of a cracked binding, but mishandling a book can cause a cracked binding to worsen.
Twisted Covers – If a book is left leaning on a shelf or suffers from a poor or damaged binding, the covers will twist sideways apart from each other. This can be unsightly for a valuable book and lead to a shaken, loose, or detached textblock.
Shaken – The stage right before loose, when the binding and textblock are intact but the covers move unnaturally in your hands. This will feel like the book is wobbly and the binding is far from tight.
Loose – This is what happens when the binding begins to deteriorate to a point where pages or page signatures start to fall out of the textblock.
Detached – Typically seen at the book hinges, the textblock will detach itself from the covers.

If you need to check the condition of the dust jacket or have a reason to handle the book for any extensive period of time, consider removing the dust jacket and placing it in a safe place to the side. This prevents any accidental damage, tears, chips, etc. to the dust jacket. The best way to remove the dust jacket is to partially open the front cover, lift the inside flap up and off the front foreedge, lay the dust jacket on a flat surface, as you transition to the rear cover to lift the rear inside flap up and off the rear foreedge.

Respect the Book!

If you love books, you should respect them for more than the material they’re made of. Especially for rare and collectible books that are not yours, the best thing you can do is to not handle the book. If you feel the absolute need to hold it, we hope you will handle them with care. Being delicate requires focus and a great deal of respect for literary history!

Notice: How to Open a Book – From “Modern Bookbinding.”

In regards to a brand new book that is meant to be handled and used, we’ve included a photo of a notice seen in early 19th century books and booksets, upon their first and initial use:

“Hold the book with its back on a smooth or covered table; let the front board down, then the other, holding the leaves in one hand while you open a few leaves at the back, then a few at the front, and so on, alternately opening back and front, gently pressing open the sections till you reach the center of the volume. Do this two or three times and you will obtain the best results. Open the volume violently or carelessly in any one place and you will likely break the back and cause a start in the leaves. Never force the back of the book. “A connoisseur many years ago, an excellent customer of mine, who thought he knew perfectly how to handle books, came into my office when I had an expensive binding just brought from the bindery ready to be sent home; he, before my eyes, took hold of the volume and tightly holding the leaves in each hand, instead of allowing them free play, violently opened it in the center and exclaimed: ‘How beautifully your bindings open!’ I almost fainted. He had broken the back of the volume and it had to be rebound.”

Book Dealer vs Book Scout

Book Dealer vs Book Scout

At its basic level, there are three parties involved in the book buying process: 1. book collector, 2. book scout, and 3. book dealer.

Safely Shipping Books

Safely Shipping Books

Safely Shipping Books You’ve sold a unique and wonderful book online to a new customer or simply giving it as a gift. No matter the recipient, your hope is for the book to arrive in the same condition as it did prior to shipment. Unlike 

Book Club Edition Books

Book Club Edition Books

Dealing with Book Club Edition Books

You’re browsing through a section of newly discovered books and see a book you’ve been hoping to find. You’re beyond excited but you temper your enthusiasm as you think to yourself, “Is this too good to be true?” You notice it has a dust jacket and is in particularly fine condition. As you pull the book off the shelf, your heart begins to sink almost immediately. You’ve been tricked! Alas, you have fallen victim to the dreaded book club… Well that all depends on your perspective of course. If you’re a connoisseur of fine books with an unlimited budget, a book club is the last item you’ll ever purchase. However, for the common collector with a fondness for a specific title or author, it might be a welcomed addition.

What is a Book Club?

There are two major groups that create Book Clubs, one that coincidently has the exact same labeling of “Book Club Editions” or a BCE, and the other better known as “Book-of-the-Month Club Editions” or a BOMC. Those books marked as Book Club Editions (BCE) are generally made with materials of inferior quality than their first edition counterparts and are typically associated with books published by Doubleday. In most instances, the Book-of-the-Month Club Editions (BOMC) are generally made with materials similar to their first edition counterparts and have no association with a given publisher. For what it’s worth, since its inception in 1926, the Book-of-the-Month Club continues to market and distribute books to this day.

How to Identify a Book Club

Keep in mind that there are always exceptions, but in general, here are a couple of ways to identify a Book Club and distinguish them from their more valuable first editions:

  1. Size – The first thing you’ll notice is that the dimensions of the book is noticeably smaller, such as the height and width.
  2. Textblock – Another area that is smaller in size is the thickness of the textblock, which is the side profile of the book that contains the entirety of the book’s pages. The textblock will likely show a thinner page as well as an uneven layering of the pages. It is also possible the top edge of the textblock will have a publisher’s top stain.
  3. Marked Dust Jacket – As book clubs are issued as a hardcover, most likely you’ll find one with a dust jacket. On the rear of the jacket or rear inside flap, you might find a series of numbers up to five digits, which is a clear indication of a book club. Also, the front inside flap, and sometimes the rear flap, should have it marked as a book club edition or as a Book-of-the-Month Club (BOMC) selection. There is an exception, where the book is a first or later edition but it is merely marked as being selected for the BOMC. The best way to tell is that first and later editions will have a price on the jacket, while a book club will not have a price.
  4. Different Board Texture – For many first edition books printed in the first half of the 20th century, the boards (or hardcovers) are made of a cloth-like material. You can actually feel the texture of the book if you run your fingers across the boards for most cloth bindings. Compare this with a book club, where the boards are typically (though there are exceptions to the rule!) made of a cheaper material that resembles a vinyl with a rubbery and smooth finish to the boards.
  5. Blind Stamp – The dead giveaway of all book clubs is the blind stamp at the rear. Especially if the book is missing a dust jacket, the blind stamp can identify the book almost instantly. It can resemble a small dot, a square, a star, etc. and is found on the rear board at the bottom nearest the spine.
  6. Lack of a publication or copyright date – Every publisher has their own way of identifying books, particularly pre-1970’s, which is a topic for another time. But for now, if you find the copyright page to be blank, lacking basic information, or a lack of a publication date on either the title or copyright page, you’re likely dealing with a book club. In the below example of, “The Caves of Steel,” the first edition will have a date after the place of publication “Garden City, New York, 1954” and the book club will not have the date.
  7. Gutter Code – Usually within the last few pages of the book, nestled in the bottom gutter, is a code that contains a letter and two digits. Known as a gutter code, you can identify the month and year when that particular copy was printed.

Why should you consider buying a Book Club?

If you’re a completist, then the fanatic side of you will require the purchase of every type of edition out there for your favorite book title or author, to include a book club. For the average collector, a book club can be a nice copy to have because it allows you to start collecting without draining your budget since many book clubs can be purchased for a tenth of the price of a first edition. A book club copy also has two added benefits, 1. you’re not worried about showcasing your collection if your friends want to handle your books and 2. you can always enjoy reading a hardcover book club without the paranoia of damaging it.

Best of luck with your book hunting and as always, happy reading!

A Day in the Life of a Book Scout

A Day in the Life of a Book Scout

A Day in the Life of a Book Scout In a nutshell, a book scout can be described as a combination of treasure hunter and dumpster diver. While the former is a more glorious observation and the latter a bit of an exaggeration, the truth