As a dealer in used and antiquarian books, I am often asked how best to care for old books. This short article will explain some simple procedures to protect your books (old or new) from harm.
The general rule of thumb is to treat your books like children.
GIVE THEM A HOME. Most important, in books or kids, is that they have a comfortable home. For books, this means in a climate-controlled room-not the porch, not the shop or outbuilding, not the unfinished attic or basement or garage, not an unheated storage unit. You don’t want the books to experience extremes of temperature, nor do you want the temperature to fluctuate wildly during the day.
Keeping books on bookshelves is ideal because it is more likely that you’ll pick up the book and start reading it! Be sure to place the bookshelf so that it is out of direct sunlight, or else your spines will fade. Also, if you are a smoker, try keeping your books in a room that you infrequently smoke in. Although the odor will eventually go away, the discoloration to the covers and pages is more difficult to remove.