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My Inner Librarian’s Woe August 15, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Books, Ramblings.

Today I’ve decided to put an end to a compulsion I’ve long had: I will no longer put a plastic cover on the books that I read.

It has always been a sort of ritual when I’d get a new book. Before I could even begin reading it, I would cover it in plastic. It was a sine qua non of having the book, and in some way the exercise of “preparing” the book and taking care of it just added to the anticipation of reading it.

But no more.

Lacking new material lately I’ve resorted to reading a few of the books on my shelf, some of which I’ve had since high school. Good books are hard to find, not to mention expensive, and I’ve always taken great care of the books in my possession (paperback or otherwise). So you can imagine my “collection” of neatly arranged books, with their plastic covers gleaming.

And, much to my dismay, their pages yellowing and molding.

That’s when it hit me. No matter how carefully I try to keep my books – covering them in plastic and what not – they will still be subject to the elements. And to time. The irony is not lost on me. Some of my favorite books are already looking very worn in spite of the plastic, while the plastic itself is still pristine.

I suppose I should have given up the ghost long ago. I once hoped that the plastic cover also served as a sign to people who would borrow my books to take extremely good care of them; yet few really would, and the plastic could never prevent the book or its pages from getting dog-eared or torn (as I sadly learned with my oft-borrowed Sandman graphic novels). I used to tell people who’d borrow my books to return them to me in as good if not better condition. Few ever thought I was serious. But I meant every word.



1. Jon Z. - August 15, 2006

i believe that the regular plastic cover actually HASTENS the yellowing of books and paper, mostly because of the acid content in the plastic. not sure where i read it.

which is why comics, for so long now, are stored in mylar or “acid free” plastic bags (if you’re a serious collector or whatnot).

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