Take care of your books like you would yourself. With a little care, books can look a lot younger as they grow older.
If there was something called "Book Abuse" most of us would have been booked under it. Consciously or unconsciously most of us treat books with as much disrespect as we would our adversary. In the process, we send our books to the grave even before they reach adolescence. More often than not, books are subject to poor handling, harsh light, dust, insects, improper storage, food stains, water spillage and even used as coasters, whenever convenient. Books are borrowed and lent in abandon, almost like shuffling from one adoptive home to another. Books hold valuable information and have immense antiquarian value. They are also the most treasured collectibles.
Books are as sensitive as Homo sapiens : Maybe books can't talk, but they are as affected, by humidity, temperature fluctuations, insects, harsh light, dust and water damage. It's life depends upon a stable, cool, clean and non-humid environment. Temperature and Humidity
These are two sure causes for deterioration. High humidity promotes mold growth, dank smell of mildew, tiny brown spots called foxing, curled pages and attracts insects, whereas as extreme low humidity can dry out leather bindings. Books turn acidic over time, with higher temperature and moisture they turn acidic faster. Temperature fluctuations also take their toll on books. Preventive Measure: The ideal temperature for your books would be 68 degree Fahrenheit with about 50 percent relative humidity. An air-conditioner will do the job. First Aid: Use a dehumidifier to increase or lower the humidity as required. Mold growth only in the early stages can be dusted off, in the advanced stage can cause irreparable damage. Allow air to circulate around the books and a little sun can take care of the smell of mildew.
With rising levels of temperature and humidity come house pests or insects. Silverfish, cockroaches and mice love books like their own. Preventive Measure: Keep the storage area clean, free of food and garbage and air-conditioned. First Aid: Sprinkle boric acid powder around your books, not in or on them. In case of serious damage to your book collection, check with an entomologist.
Light and Dust
The ultraviolet rays of sun can permanently damage fading its leather or cloth jacket from blue to dull green and red to brown. Weakening and aging paper, brittleness and discoloration are the other side affects. Dirt and dust not only harm books, but also reduce their value. Preventive Measure: Always keep the blinds closed and store books away from sunshine. Keep the room as dark as possible. Dust and wipe books regularly with a soft and dry cloth or a feather duster.
Books stored in garages and near plumbing systems suffer the most, developing mold and mildew. Preventive Measures: Keep books in a dry area, away from dampness and windows during the monsoon months. First Aid: Open the book into a fan shape and place paper towels between the pages to soak in the moisture. Replace these periodically with dry towels. Place the books open near fans to allow for free air circulation. When half dry use a hair dryer to complete the drying process.
Few people pay heed to the way they handle, store or photocopy pages from books. Even fewer are affected by scribbling in them, which is almost akin to graffiti. Handling Books
Books are forced to lay unnaturally flat just to convenience the reader, pulled off the shelf from the top of its spine and interspersed with paper clips and folded page corners for future reference. Skin oil and perspiration stain paper and wet fingers weaken them. Preventive Measure: Always use clean and dry hands to handle books. Tightly bound books are better laid on a book support. Acid-free paper strips can be used for marking and not colored 'post-its.' Books should be free from rubber bands because they tend to curl and damage the paper. Rubber bands even melt slightly with heat sticking to paper. Never lay books face down.
Usually, either books are placed prettily in showcases for their aesthetic value or stored in boxes in a crammed attic or garage. Little regard is given to the right way of storing them. Overstuffing storage boxes cramp and crease, while under filling allows for sagging and bending of books and their covers. Preventive Measure: While shelving maintain a space of 3/8 inch between each book for easy removal. Stand books vertically on their bottom edges and place books of even heights and thickness together. Do not place books horizontally on a vertically arranged shelf. If storing in boxes, choose small boxes for convenience and to cut down stress and strain on the books. Store snugly in boxes. Seal the boxes with tape.
Photocopying has become such a necessary part of our lives, that we do not give a second thought to the damage it might do to books. Photocopying loosens the book jacket, crushes the spine and in the case of delicate material even loosens the pages. Preventive Measure: Never press down on the spine of books while photocopying, especially with large and heavy books. Do not lean your weight on the lid of the photocopying machine with the book beneath.
Few can resist writing their names in books and scribbling comments in the inside pages. This reduces its value significantly. Preventive Measure: Write with a light and soft pencil and keep your comments to yourself. Use a bookplate to label your books.
Some tips for younger, healthier books :
Keep fragile books in custom made boxes.
Avoid using adhesive and sticky tapes on books.
Do not use books as coasters.
To protect books from wear and tear use plastic dust jackets.
It used to be that only the upper crust could afford to own real leather furniture; the rest of us had to make do with synthetic substitutes. But in recent years, prices have started to come down as leather has become more popular. Manufacturers are offering a greater choice in styles, making it possible to find leather to suit almost every taste and budget. Before you invest in this practical, versatile furniture, saddle up with some savvy buying tips.
Grade is the most important feature of leather's quality--and an indicator of durability and price. Manufacturers and showrooms use similar vocabulary to describe grade, which makes the buyer's job easier. Top grain indicates leather taken from the desirable outer surface of the hide. Leathers taken from the lower surfaces are split grains, and are much weaker. All but the least expensive furniture should be made from top grains.
Top-grain leathers are graded based on the ways manufacturers prepare the leather.
Aniline (or "pure" or "full" aniline) leather is soaked in aniline dye, but does not have other finishes or pigments applied. Only the best hides are used for this superbly soft leather. Semi-aniline (or "protected" aniline) leathers have a small amount of coating or pigment, giving them slightly better protection against stains and fading. Pigmented leathers are fully treated with surface color. Made from lesser-grade hides, they are stiffer than anilines, but also more stain- and scuff-resistant, and more affordable.
Leathers are graded by how much manufacturers have to do to get them ready for market. Nearly perfect, mark-free hides are rare and, therefore, highly prized. Most anilines will have visible markings, such as wrinkles and scars, that contribute to their natural beauty. Like a well-worn wallet or bomber jacket, they develop a lustrous patina with age and use.
Keep in mind that added finishes and surface pigments aren't necessarily bad. In fact, if you prefer more consistent color in your furniture, untreated anilines may not be for you. Finishes and pigments also provide greater protection from scratches, stains, and sun fading. The "best" leather, in other words, is by no means always the best choice for your family or situation.
The texture of leather furniture, like its appearance, is partly a function of its grade. The highest quality hides become the softest and most supple leathers. (In industry-speak, they have a more luxurious "hand," or feel.) Pigmented leathers and "corrected grain" leathers (those that have been buffed to remove obvious surface imperfections) have a stiffer hand. Beyond these differences, the following texturing techniques can give leather its distinctive appearance and feel:
Nubuck leathers are lightly brushed or abraded, resulting in a short nap with a plush softness. Nubucks are top-grain leathers, so they last longer than do their cousins, suedes. Nubucks also have the advantage of being treated with a protectant that makes them more stain-resistant than other anilines. Suedes approximate the look and feel of nubucks but are made from less-durable split grains.
Sauvage is a two-toned effect that lends depth to leather, producing a marbled or creased appearance.
Pull-up leathers are full anilines that have an oil or wax application. When the leather is pulled, or stretched, the oil or wax separates, producing a lighter burst of color. The pull-up technique is used for distressed or weathered looks.
Embossed leathers are corrected grains that have a new pattern or grain imprinted on them with high heat or pressure, resulting in anything from alligator to floral effects.
Grade will largely determine how much you pay for leather furniture. A sofa made from top-grain leather will range from $700 (a good sale on corrected-grain, pigmented leather) to $6,000 or more for designer names and pure aniline leather.
Leather may take slightly more care and upkeep than fabric upholstery. But in the long run, it's worth the trouble. Here are tips for preventive maintenance:
Keep leather furniture away from heat sources, which will eventually dry the leather out.
Place furniture out of direct sunlight, which causes leather to fade.
Vacuum leather regularly to remove dust.
Blot any spills immediately with a dry cloth, and let air dry.
Regularly use the recommended cleaners or creams to improve leather's resistance to staining and to keep it soft and supple.
Leather-care products are available from furniture manufacturers and stores; salespeople can recommend products for the furniture you select. Many retailers also offer leather warranties. For a moderate price (about $100 for a seven-year warranty on a sofa, half that for a chair), your leather will be repaired or replaced if it cracks, stains, or tears, ensuring that you will enjoy it for years to come.
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