Preserving Photobooks


How do I preserve my books?

Answer by: Nilofer Khan, Senior Features Writer, Better Photography

If you are a book collector, especially of ones with photographs printed in them, preserving them over a long duration of time is problematic. Everything from mildew, silverfish, yellowing and aging of paper, or even termites, can decimate a book, unless it’s stored correctly. It happens because of temperature, handling, and exposure to light. Here is a ‘to-do’ list that you can follow:

1. Keep your books away from direct sunlight: UV rays from sunlight and fluorescent lights can lead to fading in books. Therefore, avoid having bookshelves near windows. It is best to place them towards an interior wall of the house. If this is not possible, use drapes or curtains to cut off direct sunlight.
2. Store your books in a cool, dry place: Whenever your books are not in use, store them in a cabinet, preferably one that’s wooden, with glass slide panels. This will prevent temperature fluctuation, within the room, from affecting them. If you have a similar closed space for books, rigging it with a small dehumidifier will go a long way, especially if you reside in a coastal environment.
3. Arrange your books on the bookshelf: Your books need to be kept vertically, where the spine faces outwards. Avoid shelving them too tightly, as it might damage them. Avoid storing your books horizontally, as it might ruin its coated paper (the type found in coffee table books).
4. Ensure that you are browsing through the books: You should periodically air out your books, to get rid of any moisture that might be trapped in them.
5. Handle books with care: Always clean your hands before you touch a book, to avoid staining. A book with a hardcover is usually stiff when opened. So, remove the dust cover and keep the book vertically, with the spine facing down, on a hard surface. Hold the pages upright and keep the cover open. Then, gradually leave 1/4th of the pages on both sides, gently pressing them, until you reach the center of the book. If your book happens to be paperback, covering it with plastic will help prevent damage.