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Moving with Your Books

Most of us have moved a few times in our lives. Most of us have had some books in our lives. But why is it so difficult for people to move with books?

Personally I think there are two aspects to this issue. : First the number of books vs the number of boxes. Second knowing how to pack them.


No one who collects books can comprehend how many books there really are in the collection. You might know the number of books, but that seems to become an abstract point.  For example the first time I moved as a child, my father asked me how many boxes I needed for my belongings. I said 4 boxes.  My valuables were in a suitcase, my toys were in a toy-box and my clothes were rolled & tightly sealed into my dresser. All that was left was my book collection.  Now I knew that I had an encyclopedia set, a 2 volume dictionary set from 1899 and my Star Trek book collection. I had recently complied a list of the volumes I had (as of 2019 over 850 books were in this series) and I knew that I had 400 of them.  So 4 book boxes would work right?

Let it be known that this did not work.

Places that sell moving boxes tend to sell what they call book boxes. This box is intended to hold 65 pounds, and is  16-3/8″ x 12-5/8″ x 12-5/8″ (W x L x H). These boxes are great until you fill them up. Then you can find out just how heavy your collection really is.  First you need to put paper or cloth down to protect the books. Then, only 24 regular sized hardbacks will fit per box and will be about 38 lbs.  An encyclopedia set can almost fit in one box.  That is quite a bit heavier than 38 lbs.  About 50 paperbacks can fit inside the box. I was quickly out of boxes.

Now since I was a child I did not know how to pack boxes of books, and since moving as an adult I’ve found that most moving companies don’t know how to pack book boxes either.

For most people using the boxes that printer paper comes in is a good box for books.  To be honest it isn’t a bad idea for a short move or if you have odd sized books. But those cartons are not stable enough to put more than two or three cartons on top of it. If you’ve ever bought a carton of printer paper you will notice that the stacks of paper are right up to the edge and there is not much wiggle room. Books should not be packed that way. Books need some gaps to prevent getting damaged. Stacking other boxes on top of the books -even if they are other book boxes- will cause the lids to break. But these are great for short trips and quick unpacking.

In college I used plastic milk crates to move from dorm to dorm. These stack nicely and you can pack them in a way that they are their own shelf. But the nature of the design of the crates tends to cause “shelf wear” on the books, so then you need in to bit levels in them and that can take up a bit of room. But these are easy to carry, so there is that in its favor.  But it is getting more difficult to find milk crates, so that might be an issue.

I have used cloth bags, the ones with the square bottoms, but those  are not the most stable and can damage the books if moved around too much. This is a better thing to use in the packing box. More on that later.

For shows I used to use cardboard boxes like printer boxes as they were easy to replace if damaged. One three hour rainstorm made me change to plastic totes. Plastic totes are great- if you can get the correct size and the number you need. The same size and brand will stack perfectly together.  Unfortunately different brands do not stack easily together and will cause the breaking or warping of the lids and sides. Also good plastic totes are between $14 to $30 each. When dealing with large collections you will need to invest in a good way to transport them.

The last time I moved my store. 5,000 titles. I packed the boxes and movers placed them in the truck.  Please remember to check the movers are putting the books against the walls of the vehicle.  Book boxes can be an extra wall of protection for the truck, but if they are used to layer the bottom of the truck there will be massive amounts of broken boxes.

So now you have the number of boxes…what then? You need packing supplies. Books need cushioning. This can be plain paper (as newspaper can create ink smudges) bubble wrap, packing peanuts or cloth. I have found that clean wash cloths, tea towels, hand towels, socks and most infant clothing can work as packing supplies quite well.  You will need to move those items anyway, so why pay for extra supplies and use more boxes for them? Use the towels on the bottom and top, roll the other items to fit snugly  in the black areas. Just remember to label the box so you know what you used. Nothing like having to open 40 boxes to find your infant’s onesie.

There is a video down below that will demonstrate how to pack them properly  in the boxes to avoid damage to the books and to the movers.



Now I like to also use the cloth bags in the box. So I layer the box with padding and place the open,  empty bag in the box. Ipack the books inside the bag like it was in a box. Then I foldthe handles overthe top and make sure there is enough padding around it before sealing it up. This is a good way to keep smaller collections together to easily shelve it later.

Moving is always stressful and the more ways  you can make it easier to do so is good for all involved.

Hopefully this post will help you do you.

Happy Reading.

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Customer information: Caring for your books

Hello again and welcome to another blog posting. Last time we wrote about how to store (display) your collection and today we will be discussing how to take care of your collection correctly.

So oddly enough people tend to forget that books are made of paper. By nature paper is temperamental. Time and temperature can cause many issues. If you have a larger collection, sometimes it becomes quite difficult to care for it properly. Since books went from ultra expensive & rare to inexpensive & cheaply made around 120 years ago people have seemed to forgotten just how delicate (for the lack of a better word) books are.  Over the years I have seen this when evaluating and purchasing collections. There are two distinct patterns that occur: lack of knowledge and lack of care. The rest of this blog post will address these two issues and then give suggestions on how to properly treat a book collection of any size. As always feel free to contact us with any other suggestions or comments.

Lack of Care

Lack of care can be also called lack of time. Unless you are dealing with your collection daily, either using them as reference materials or even just rereading them weekly, time management becomes a thing.It might not seem like a big deal, but cleaning your books collection should be a weekly thing. Fairly simple to do, if you have a particular day that you vacuum or dust, just remove the books from the case -by the middle of the spine and not the ends as that will start to fray the ends- wipe each with a dry soft cloth, then wipe down the shelf.  Dust can do damage to books over time as it will start mold growth. Dust mites attract other bugs which can also start infesting in your book. Did your pets get fleas? Child get lice? Have to spray for bugs? These are all good times to clean the book collection. Small bugs love to hide in yummy paper.

Wiping down the books weekly or bi-monthly can also let you see if there are any other issues occurring.  For example fading, yellowing, sagging spines and cracking of leathers. All of which are problems that can be easily solved in the beginning.

Lack of Knowledge


Books are made of paper.

This seems like an obvious thing to state, but do you know what exactly this means?  When paper is made wood pulp and fabric are mixed with water into a pulp and then formed into flat sheets. This video can explain how to do it better.   From the time that the page is created, paper is drying out. When it is completely dried it is cracking and tearing, sometimes crumbling at the touch. All of those cartoons when the book turns to dust and blows away in the breeze can happen if certain conditions are not met.

Mind you these days the production of paper has somewhat changed, so decay and turning to dust is not easily accomplished.

Step 1: Placement: Keep your books in a stable, moderate environment. Room temperature, around 70 degrees, and a moderate relative humidity, around 50%, is best.. Too much heat or moisture can speed up deterioration or encourage mold growth. Even though it is tempting to make the basement or the attic into a personal library or just use it for long term storage, don’t. They tend to not have good circulation (ha library joke!) and will either be too hot or too damp. If you absolutely need to store them long term in those locations use proper book storage containers, like those sold by Talas and other library archival companies.

So now where you do put your collection? Not in your sunniest room, no matter how much you enjoy reading there. There was a reason that personal libraries in older homes are designed with tall narrow windows, in the middle of the house and with dark heavy wood and leather.  Direct sunlight will fade your books. This is seen a lot where the dust jacket spine has changed from an orange to a weird mustard color after a decade of early morning sunlight. This is a reason why bookstore window displays need to be changed monthly.Fading, tanning, sunning and darkening are the terms used to describe the affect ultraviolet and direct sunlight will have on the paper. Leather bindings will dry out and crack instead of fading, but fading can occur as the moisture is drawn from the skin.  Pleather, or synthetic leather, will also fade, but instead of cracking it will get a sticky sensation as it starts to melt in the heat.  So a nice room in the middle of the house like the family room or living room seems more ideal.

But don’t put your bookcases along the exterior walls. Modern buildings are fairly thin walled. As someone who has lived in town homes, the warmest walls was the ones connected to the other homes. Exterior walls can experience temperature and humidity changes. Also try not to put the cases under a vent or along a wall where the plumbing shut off valves are or any lace that might have issues if a pipe breaks. (so not next to the kitchen or the bathrooms). That makes the ideal location the hallway.

Step 2: Treatment: You need to keep moisture down near your books. There are many ways to do this, but the best way I have found is to get boxes of baking soda and keep them open behind the books. Just like in the fridge, they absorb smells and excess moisture. Unlike other items like kitty litter and cedar chips, baking soda does not smell. And when it starts to clump, then you can replace it.  Cedar chips and moth balls will keep away most bugs, but the scents can be over whelming if you have a lot of shelving.  Closing the nearest air vent to the shelves  is a good thing to do as well.

If you have noticed some major damage to the books remove them from the shelves. What is “Major” damage? Mold, cracking leather and darkening pages.

If there is mold, mildew or a sweetly sour  scent remove the book from the others. Take the two books next to it off as well. Place the book in a ziploc bag with baking soda in it. Check the other books. Place them in individual ziploc as well. Wipe down the whole shelf with a bleach and water mix and let it air dry. Place the uncontaminated books on the shelf. Search for a place that repairs books. Depending on the extent of the damage, it might be best to just get a new copy.

If the leather is cracking and flaking  CALL A PROFESSIONAL. There are certain glues that will cause worse damage if used.

If the pages are darkening and tearing DO NOT USE COMMON TAPE. The glue will cause yellowing and will make the problem worse. If the damage is on the dust cover/ dust jacket remove it from the book. Get  some mylar covers and place them inside. Mylar covers are the book equivalent to plastic wraps and boards used for the storing of comic books. is a good place to find bookcovers for your collection.   The long link below  shows how to fit it properly.

Please do not use leather oil, mineral oil or leather dressing on the books. This will cause staining and other issues down the line.

If you have an extensive collection  having a good book bindery to go to is a blessing. is a good one.

Knowing these things will help you maintain your collection and help you enjoy your books for years to come.

Happy reading.




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Reader Information: storing

When you, as a reader, move from having a few dozen books on a topic, to being a collector with a few dozen books on a dozen topics, there comes a problem about where to put them. The last thing one wants is to see their collection warp and become damaged over time. There are lots of considerations to keep track of when displaying  your collection, but perhaps the most basic question you should first ask yourself is whether to store your books vertically in the upright position or horizontally on their sides.

Why is that a question to ask? Because most shelving units are not designed to hold books of different sizes and weights. So unless you want to have two cases for each subject (paperbacks and hardcovers) or three (paperbacks, hardcovers and Quality Paperbacks) most of us start to stack the paperbacks horizontally.  This saves space, at first, and allows you to groups subjects together, but this can place undue pressure on the spines, causing them to sag and crack over time.

So what to do?

Over the years I have tried many shelving units, from the simple homemade cinder blocks and planks of wood, to solid oak bookcases. All have some issues, so as an “expert” on this here are my suggestions.

 When looking for a bookcase

1: MEASURE WHERE YOU WILL BE PUTTING THEM. There is nothing like finding you have misjudged the wall space and now are encroaching on a door way or a stairwell.

2: Look at where your outlets are.  If the only plug outlet in the room will be behind  the bookcases find an extension cord so that you can have some lights in the room.

3: MEASURE WHERE YOU ARE PUTTING THEM.  Yes I said this before. But remember the ceiling. There is nothing like spending good money on a nice 8 foot bookcase to find out that your ceiling is 7 1/2 feet tall.

3a: Also how tall are you? Can you reach the top of an 6 foot bookcase? Do you need to buy a chair or stool to do so? Remember you will have to dust at some point….

4: How many books do you have and how many are you planning to get?  Trick question. The only acceptable answer is: this will be my personal library.

When at the store

Congratulations, you have now made it to the store to get your first of many bookshelves.  Where is the best place to go? Your local bookstore is the best place to see which types of shelves you can get. So go in and see what they have……

And now that you are leaving with a small selection of new books did you notice the shelves at all?

Most new bookstores use solid wood shelving with permanent shelving. Each shelf is 13 inches (give or take 1 inch) in height  and about 10 inches in depth.  This allows for all types of books to be placed spine showing. Most hardcovers are approximately 7 inches in width, with QPs being slightly smaller, but oblong books or art books are a bit longer, so extra space is needed. If your collection does not have any oblong books, then this will allow you to push them evenly back against the backing.

Something you might not have noticed is that these shelves tend to have backs. Sounds silly, but it doesn’t matter if a store is calling it a book case, if there is not a back it is a display shelving unit or a knick -knack case. Your books will fall off, or get damaged if they are pushed against the wall. And oddly enough these will not hold your books. Point in case, two decades ago I bought six cases from Ikea.  Now I love Ikea. Their products are light colored and designed to go together. But I secured the cases against the wall and placed my collection on them, only to notice that after a few months they were leaning away from the wall and sagging dangerously.  I called my local store to see what could be done and they were perplexed. So I took some photos and went to the store. The response was that this was happening because I had too many books on the cases and the metal “x” supports on the backs weren’t designed to hold such weight.  I ended up getting a large piece of particleboard and nailing the cases to this. This was now an almost unmovable 8 foot by 12 foot bookcase.

I love Ikeas’ way of having adjustable shelving, which works well in smaller collections, but for my store, and for anyone who wants to have shelving where the pins don’t break, fall out or just vanish, I’d suggest looking for cases that use a more built  in method. Now I’m not sure what it is called, but the shelves are designed to fit into grooves on the sides of the case. This allows for an even distribution of weight and, if the shelf breaks, makes it easier to replace. The one problem is that those shelves are permanent and thus you have to make sure it will fit the height of your books.

Now if you decide to go with the pegs  can help you decide which one is better for you.

Stay away from press board.  I’m sorry this stuff does not last for very long. Okay, yes it does last a for a while, but when it breaks it is a pain to fix, or replace. Any water damage and it will start to swell. And by water damage I mean having your AC up too high.

Now glass and metal shelving is great for the books themselves, but can be problematic depending on your collection and your life.  Kids and pets can bump into things and if these fall or break, there may be some issues. These shelves are good due to the non- porous nature of the materials. Wood absorbs water over time no matter how you treat it and that can get into the books.  One can delay this by using metal or glass shelving or by keeping the temperature steady in the room. Airing out your collection every so often helps as well. I have found that using contact paper (kitchen shelf  lining paper) on wood shelves helps as well- but that stuff needs to be evenly placed and is difficult to remove. So I  would recommend spending the cash on a good solid wood case that can stand on its own (without needing to be against a wall).

But wait….what about the storing of the books? 

Other Items you Need to have

Book ends.

As a child I never understood why I should ever have them, as any room on the bookshelf was filled with more books.  But a decent bookend will help keep the books steady and prevent them from expanding (remember water is in the air)If you place the bookend with a hardcover they will help prevent the paperbacks from losing shape.

Bookends can be made of anything as long as they are the same on each end of the shelf (if using two) as the pressure must be the same.  You can get them at any bookstore, or even make them yourself. I’ve known people who have used painted Styrofoam blocks and some who have painted bricks. Others have used jars of marbles.  It honestly doesn’t matter.


This is what I use for my paperback books.  Since most of my collections include all formats of books, I had some of my shelves measured and wooden risers put in  These are shorter than the shelves, and are recessed in. This allows me to put in two rows of paperbacks so that I can see  which ones are there. This works better on shelving that has more depth (like for oblong books). Personally I like them to be shorter than the length of the shelf so that I can adjust them if needed, or if I need to put in a bookend.

When setting up your shelves, just remember that you do need to give them some space. You cannot put them too tightly together or you will either remove all of them when taking one out or never get it off the shelf.

So what are your suggestions for storing your collection? Any particular stores, brands or types of shelves that you’d recommend? Send us a reply and let us know.

Until then. Happy Reading.


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New Arrivals: Ancient Africa

Showcased today are titles Ancient Africa. 

First we have two books in the series The History of Africa. These are ex-library books with all internal & external library markings and were acquired from a Jr High School library sale.  Highly illustrated, they give an overview of the cultures and countries from before European invasions. They are priced at $10 each.
Another new arrival is Ibn Battuta in Black AfricaThis book is in Very Good + condition and is being sold for $24. 

If you are not familiar with this writer,  Ibn Battuta was a Muslim Berber Moroccan scholar, and explorer who widely traveled the medieval world. Over a period of thirty years, Ibn Battuta visited most of the Islamic world and many non-Muslim lands, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, India and China. Until recent decades, most of his writings were not available in English. This gives an interesting view of the cultures for Western readers. Due to a printing error the purple ink is quite blurry on the covers.