Monday, April 6, 2009

Have Ordered a Book Press

I received an order of books today, and the covers are warped from past moisture exposure. Additionally, the spines are slanted. Otherwise, the books are rather nice. I finally decided to order a book press so that I can improve the condition of the books:

I bought it from Demco. I have wanted one for several years, but the cost of nearly $200 has kept me from buying one. It took me receiving a stack of warped books to finally decide to take the plunge.

Some book presses cost upwards of $1,000, so the one I ordered is an inexpensive one. It is possible to make one's own book press, but I do not care to gather the materials and build one.

Book presses are used to straighten out the various problems that old books have, such as slanted spines. I hate books that have slanted spines. I mean I really hate slanted spines. It must bother me more than it does most people, since I seem to be about the only seller who ever mentions slanted spines. The book press supposedly will fix that problem. I have read that the press applies several hundred pounds of even pressure to the books, and the books need to be in the press for at least several days. I will report back on how well the book press works after I have received it and have tried it out, which will likely be in a couple of weeks.

Do slanted spines bother any of you? Does it bother you when a book arrives with a slanted spine, and the seller failed to mention it? What is most important to you about the condition of your books?


Phyl said...

The most important thing to me about the condition of the book is that it is readable and has all the pages. I don't like it when the pages nearly crumble at the touch but I take what I can get. I would like top notch versions but I can't afford them as I'm in college. My goal is to read most of the mystery series on your website and own them all if possible.

Lenora said...

I don't love slanted spines, but they don't offend me too much, unless they're severe. I would certainly mention them when selling, though. I overheard a used bookseller once disclosing their method for slanted spines--I can't recall all of it, but the key ingredient was a microwave.

I think the thing that bothers me the most are probably tape (I HATE tape) and moisture damage, specifically wrinkling and swelling. Smoke smell is also up there and, in my experience, rarely disclosed. Putting a dryer sheet in the package is not a cure for smoke smell.

Jennifer White said...

Microwaving can definitely help as it does make the glue in the binding more flexible. I have had some success with slanted spines just by trying to force the spines out of the slant by hand.

Moisture damage that has resulted in wrinkling or color loss to jackets is about the worst thing that can happen to a book, aside from fire damage. I find that many inexperienced sellers do not reveal moisture damage even when it is kind of bad.

I dislike books that smell, but I'm not as concerned with books that smell like cigarettes as I am other odors since I find that the smell fades as time passes. I hate cigarette odor as much as the other odors, but cigarette odor can be reversed. I find it very hard to get the musty odor out of most books. Exposing the books to fresh air and microwaving them tends to help, but I had some from a couple months ago that retained the odor even after I tried both fresh air and the microwave. The odor would not budge, and I certainly did not want to scorch the books in the microwave.

Mothball odor really bothers me in books, more than cigarettes and mustiness. I have received some books that smell like they are big giant mothballs. Really strong. Yuck.

All of that said, I do agree with Phyl: if I need a book for my condition and if it is hard to find, I will take any copy that is available until something better comes along.

Lenora said...

Honestly, I tend not to be too particular about books for my own collection. I prefer that they be in dust jacket, and, if possible, not in pulp paper. I hate having books crumble while I read them. I want to be able to curl up with it and enjoy, without having to be super careful with the pages.

I started rethinking my laxness about condition when I started selling. When I upgrade copies, it can be difficult to get rid of the ones in more questionable condition. Now I'm more likely to hold out for a keeper copy--even though that's just one with a halfway decent dust jacket, most of the time. If something is really out of my price range, I'm happy to settle for next best. My paperback copy of The Hidden Clue, or my Mildred Wirt Cupples & Leon titles without dust jackets, for example.

Paula said...

I'm collecting white spine dustjacketed Nancy Drews 1-22 for the cover art. At first I thought I would not mind a jacket with some damage (i.e., pieces missing) as long as it did not effect the front cover art. However, after I bought one or two books with spine damage, I realized that since I was not so concerned about the book itself and getting particular printings, or particular endpapers, etc., for just a little more money $3-5, I could get a book with a dust jacket in decent condition, that would look a lot nicer. Also, I found that placing the dust jackets in protective covers not only allows you to handle the books with less worry, but it makes minor flaws less noticeable. So I look for books with dust jackets that have a nice bright, undamaged picture on the cover, no large missing pieces, with minor edgewear. I'm not too particular about the book itself as long as it's not damaged or flawed in a really big way, e.g., missing pages, loose pages, broken spines, unsightly writing, etc.

I'm more particular about the yellow spine books I am collecting - 2 sets - one with original text and earliest artwork (#5, #7-34) and one with revised/modern text(#1-56) and revised artwork where available. I feel there are enough of these books around that I can afford to be more selective. I don't expect pristine, but I also don't want a book that is filthy and/or worn to the point of frayng the cardboard covers. The problem here is that many sellers do not mention major flaws and their pictures don't provide enough info either. So sometimes you are surprised by the great condition of books you receive and other times greatly disappointed.

I had to return a set of 10 books recently that I purchased from a bookseller. The listing had one small picture of the books lying closely next to each other, with their front covers facing up. I thought because the seller was a professional, he would mention major flaws and that his assessemnt of condition would be more or less accurate. Well, 5 of the 10 books which had been described as "Very Good" were actually in "Poor" condition with major flaws! I'm talking holes in the cover as if it had been used as a dart board, significant water damage that was visible the whole way through the book, etc. I returned them and they showed up again for sale, with a lower condtion rating, but still no mention of the unusual/major flaws. I will never buy from that seller again, although he offers ND books regularly.

I also hate books with bad smells - musty, smoky, or otherwise. This is one of the major things that sellers don't divulge in their descrips.

rachel said...

Sorry if you've already answered this, but I'm curious- did that book you were waiting for earlier this year ever show up? :)

Jennifer White said...

I never did receive that book. I was so irritated! PayPal did refund my $8.00, so I did not lose anything.

I am still a little irritated, but I should soon have a replacement purchased from someone else. The book was Betty Gordon in Mexican Wilds with the first art dust jacket. I was so eager to get it, because the first art dust jackets are so elusive! Another one came up for sale in the last couple of weeks, except that it was $25.00, so I had to pay a bit more.

I am pretty sure that it is not the same seller or the same book that I had purchased previously. That did occur to me, and so I checked the sellers' locations to make certain. I wanted to avoid setting myself up for the same scam. I hopefully will get my replacement book in the next few days.