How to Store Books So They Last Forever

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

Book lovers tend to want their favorite titles right where they can see them: on their bookshelves. Unfortunately, sometimes life has other plans. Multiple moves, temporary living situations, 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 result in your favorite reads getting warped or destroyed. Here's how to store books properly, both on and off the shelf.

Step 1: Make sure your books are clean, dusted, and ready to be stored. Then find clean boxes that are the right size. (Avoid ones that were previously used to store food, as they might attract mice or bugs that will destroy your books' paper pages.) Your best bet? Waterproof plastic containers.

Step 2: 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. Books can also be stored upright with the paper edge facing upwards. Add some small silica gel packets inside the boxes; you can save them from other purchases for moments like these. Once the boxes are full and tightly packed, close or seal them up with acid-free packing tape.

Step 3: Decide where to place your boxes. Avoid a humid basement because the moisture may encourage mold growth. And steer clear of any area that frequently floods or experiences extreme temperatures. Heat can cause book bindings to melt or crack. An ideal spot is an attic, crawl space, or closet that's well ventilated and temperature-controlled between 65 and 70 F. Place the boxes on a shelf (in case of water leaks).

The Dos and Don'ts of Storing Books on Bookshelves

Unless they are coffee table books, one of the best places to keep your books is on a bookshelf in the main area of your house. Here's the right way to store them.

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 or tilt them 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 damage paper.

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