Protecting Your Inventory

by Craig Stark

#118, 7 April 2008

A Few Suggestions for New Booksellers

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From the Don't-You-Just-Hate-It-When-This-Happens Dept.:

At long last you sell a three-figure book that's been sitting in your inventory for who knows how long. You merrily print out a packing slip, check the description to see that it matches - and then discover to your horror that the backstrip, once vividly colored, is now faded. Or the spine is cocked. Or the wraps are torn, or the dust jacket. Or something untoward happened to it between the time you listed it and now.

You're then faced with the unpleasant task of contacting your buyer, explaining the situation and hoping that something can be worked out that won't cost you the sale. And - when you stop to think about, it's likely that it could've been easily prevented.

Even if you don't have an open shop, books can suffer on your shelves if care isn't taken to prevent it. Something as simple as dusting the tops of your text blocks once a year is a good start, as is regularly using bookends on shelves that aren't full. Also, allowing your books to stand at an angle for a significant length of time, especially heavy books, isn't at all book friendly. Spine deformation is a likely outcome, but bindings will also loosen, and the bottom edges of dust jackets will curl or even tear.

Light is another problem. Sunlight, of course, is horrible, but steady fluorescent lighting is surprisingly detrimental. If you must use it, install UV filters. Though recommended, even incandescent light should be minimized. I'll discuss this in more detail in Part III of my "Storage Solutions for Booksellers" series, but one excellent strategy for minimizing light exposure is to orient bookcases perpendicular to walls and arrange them so that narrow aisles are created between them. This blocks a substantial percentage of light coming in, and you can mount small lamps on the wall of each aisle that can be turned on and off as needed.

Not much new here: Unless you're prepared to take extraordinary care of higher-dollar books with dust jackets, applying protective polyester sleeves before putting them away is a must. I take this one step further with signed hypermodern books, which absolutely must be babied to retain their value: After applying a sleeve, I make a bubble bag for the book with my impulse sealer and leave the top open. This both protects it from getting dinged and supplies another layer of protection against light. Also, the bag is handy for holding associated signing ephemera (which might stress the hinge if placed inside the book) - and of course it can be readily sealed before boxing.

>>>>> Article including tutorial with photographs continues on next page >>>>>

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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