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Caring for your booksHow can I protect my book from losing value?
First, do your part to prop-up the book market by buying antiquarian books (preferably from us). Since condition is the most important factor in the value of most collectible books, making sure the condition stays stable while you own the book is the best way to protect its value. Sunlight and humidity are your books' worst enemies (assuming you keep them clean and don't let silverfish and other critters breed in them and feed upon them). If you live in a particularly humid environment your books will suffer over time. If you are a smoker and indulge in your personal library, your books will smell of tobacco and some collectors are very sensitive to this (dealers should note offensive book odors in their descriptions - offensive dealer odors are another story), and many dustjackets will acquire a yellow film. Books should be kept out of direct sunlight. If placed on a shelf that only gets just a few minutes of sunlight a day, most books will deteriorate significantly. Some types of printing dyes and papers are very sensitive to even ambient light and normal air - copies of these books that sit on shelves for decades will fade or brown or become brittle without any excessive exposure. Years ago we handled what came to be known as "the Beautiful Books" collection. Each book was purchased when new and then placed in a black cloth-covered bookcase. After several decades when the books came into our hands, these copies almost glowed in the dark when compared with what were normally considered "fine" copies. The paper looked as fresh as any new book you would buy today. On the flip side, that collector never got to see his books.
I heard I should change the Mylar jacket protectors on my books every ten years. Is this true?
Older styles of jacket protectors shrunk quite a bit over time and could, over time, do considerable damage to jackets. Newer examples are more chemically stable, but it's still a good idea to change them every five to ten years, or if it looks like any edge of a jacket is beginning to curl in any way.
Should I get my books restored?
Ah, a question fraught with peril! First let's make the distinction between repair and restoration. We do not generally object to minimal and professional repair to a book, as long as that repair has been disclosed by the seller. Broken hinges that have been neatly repaired, an internal Japanese paper repair to a jacket flap that has become, or is in danger of becoming detached, repairs to damaged leather bindings, if nicely accomplished, are all acceptable to us, once again, and don't make us say it again - IF THESE REPAIRS HAVE BEEN DISCLOSED BY THE SELLER. We recommend that unless you have considerable experience you do not try to make these repairs yourself. A bad repair might do more damage to the value of your book than just leaving your unrepaired but flawed copy alone. We can recommend professionals in the book repair field if you need to have repairs done. Be aware that either repair or restoration, if undertaken with the proper time, care, and expertise, is generally not going to be inexpensive. Our feelings about restoration are a little more problematic. Replacing significant portions of a book or dustjacket can call into question the authenticity of that book or jacket. In general, we do not recommend that you get a book or dustjacket restored. As Peter L. Stern has elsewhere remarked: "sophisticated collectors prefer their books to be unsophisticated," and so do we. There are exceptions to this preference - occasionally a very valuable book or jacket, although demonstrably authentic, has significant flaws that unless they are restored might get worse. We have also arranged to have mediocre copies of important books restored as a service to our customers, occasionally with very nice results, but if left to us, they probably would have been left the way they were. Restoration seems to have become an increasingly prevalent part of the landscape, and in many instances this restoration has been effected in order to deceive eventual purchasers. Restoration might be perfectly acceptable in some instances, but it should also always be viewed with caution.