Books, the real ones, will not last forever. The mere fact that they are made from paper makes them very, very delicate.
I would like to think that I am one of those folks who take really good care of their books. I make sure my hands are clean before I read them. I have long since waged a war against dog-ears. I also conspicuously do background checks on people who wants to borrow my books (just to make sure 1) that they would actually read the book, 2) they know how to use a book properly, and 3) that they will be RETURNING the book in a timely manner. I cover most of my books, some I leave as is because covering may just do some unnecessary damage to the book.
Time is not on our side. ‘Time’ actually works for Kindle and other e-book vendors ^^. This conspiracy has led to the demise of countless volumes of books and manuscripts. Frequent use of the book exposes the book to several injuries, but letting the book gather some dust while on the the bookshelves will not completely protect the book.
Add to this are the creepy-crawlers that preys on the revered pages of our beloved books. I know ants are industrious insects, but I am not sure if they like reading too. =]
Because the new year is fast approaching, I decided to clean my bookshelves. To my horror, I found a squished cockroach in between my Harry Potter Chambers of Secrets and my Prisoner of Azkaban. It was really a disgusting sight. Even now, I can still visualize the striated imprints left by the devil’s corpse. But that is not even the worst part…it’s the smell! I think I got a good sniff of Hell from that thing.
Now before this incident, I was actually planning on playing book doctor already because of some adjustments I wanted to make on my HP Books. I simply wanted to replace my book’s old plastic cover because I didn’t think it was doing it’s job of protecting the book.
But this unfortunate situation just forced my hand.
Is it time to call the book doctor?
Before we get to the actual process, you might be wondering when is the best time to re-cover/ fix an old book. Here are some of the situations that you might consider.
- If it has been “contaminated” by any offensive/damaging factor. (Roach juice, in my case..ugh!)
- If the book cover starts to peel off. This may be part of the usual wear and tear but if of the cover used on the book is not very durable, this can happen earlier than expected.
- If some of the pages starts to come off, “START” being the operative word. It would already be a bit difficult to salvage a book if several pages are torn or missing.
- If the book spine cover begins to look bad. More so than the book cover, the spine is one of the most important parts of a book because it actually holds the whole thing together.
- If the initial book cover was not done very well. For my books, this is the usual problem. I did not realize that I tend to cover my book a tad too tightly. Now this forces the cover to pull back towards the spine, which in turn exposes half a centimeter of the pages uncovered.
The list I made is not exhaustive. If and when you feel that something can be improved on the physical aspect of the book, that would be a perfect time to consider an “intervention”.
Do keep in mind that books are not like dolls. You may have played surgeon once or twice with Barbie but I do not recommend it on books. Often times, the book is already old, and it may already be irreplaceable due to its sentimental and monetary value.
Also, don’t fix it if it’s not broken. If you think that you will do more damage than good, leave it to the expert or leave it alone.
Judging from my books, we humans are not so different from them. I’m not sure if this is an accurate assessment, but I really think that the books get a bit fatter as they age. Comparing a brand new book to my old one, the old one has noticeably put on some additional weight. They also get a lot of age spots, and they start to smell…funkier than they used to be.
The deterioration of the quality of the book is inevitable. However, we can slow down this aging process if we take good care of them.
I will be posting Part Two, in a day or two, still as a part of the Weekly Writing Challenge =)