Keep that copy of Pride and Prejudice in brand new condition.

By Caylin Harris
May 27, 2020
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Any book lover wants their favorite titles right where they can see them, on their bookshelves. Unfortunately, sometimes life has other plans for our paperbacks. Multiple moves, temporary living situations, a lack of space or storage, or just sheer volume might require you to pack them up from time to time. If that’s the case, don’t make rookie mistakes that might result in your favorite reads getting warped or destroyed—here’s how to store books properly, both on and off the bookshelf.

Step one: Make sure your books are clean, dusted, and ready to be stored. Then find a box that is the right size. Look for plastic containers that are waterproof. Avoid reusing boxes that were previously used to store food, as they can attract mice or bugs that will destroy your books' paper pages.

Step two: Fill your boxes, wrapping each book in a paper towel or bubble wrap to prevent damage to the cover or books sticking together, and stack the heavier books on the bottom of the box. Books can also be stored upright with the paper edge facing upwards. Add some small silica gel packets inside the boxes as well; you can save them from other purchases for moments like these. Once the boxes are full and tightly packed, close or seal the boxes up with acid-free packing tape.

Step three: Now figure out where you should place your boxes. Don’t store books in the basement because it can be too humid and the moisture may encourage mold growth. You also want to avoid any area that frequently floods or experiences extreme temperatures. Extreme heat can cause the bindings of the books to melt or crack. An ideal spot is an attic, crawl space, or closet that’s well ventilated and temperature-controlled between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the boxes on a shelf (just in case of water leaks).

The Dos and Don'ts of Storing Books on Bookshelves

One of the best places to keep your books is on a bookshelf in the main area of your house. If you're lucky enough to have the space, here's the right way to store books on a bookshelf.

Do place a bookshelf near an interior wall with enough space to allow for some air circulation. Placing a shelf next to an exterior wall may cause the temperature to fluctuate too much.

Don't crowd books too tightly together on a shelf or place them so they sit tilted on the shelf.

Do keep them away from direct sunlight, since it can fade the covers.

Don't remove the dust jackets, they’re meant to help protect the book covers.

Do Keep the books and their spines dusted. Over time, the acidic elements in dust can actually damage paper.