Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Removing Permanent Marker from Books

I recently purchased a partial set of Dana Girls books online that had prices written on the spines.  I wasn't sure whether the prices were in grease pencil or black marker, but I decided to take a risk and purchase the books anyway.  When the books arrived, I discovered that the prices had been written in black marker, which was quite unfortunate.  Marker can sometimes be removed, but more often, it cannot be removed.  The determining factor is how porous the cover is.

Here are the seller's pictures.

Ugh.  This was pretty dreadful.  I knew that I could partially remove the marker, but I wasn't sure to what degree.  I began with some lighter fluid first.  I wiped at one spine, and the lighter fluid smeared the marker.  That approach was too risky.  I didn't like the idea of smearing the marker all over the spine.  I was afraid that some of it would soak into the cover.

I next switched to a soft eraser.  I was able to remove around three-fourths of the marker with the eraser, then I decided to see what would happen if I were to use lighter fluid.  I wiped a paper towel dampened with lighter fluid across the remaining marker.  Since only some marker remained, just a little smearing occurred.  I immediately tried erasing again.  More of the marker lifted off quite easily.  Wetting the remaining marker with lighter fluid caused the marker to loosen enough to be erased better.  I repeated the process, wiping with lighter fluid, erasing again, and then repeating the process until the marker was gone.

I spent around 30 minutes on the books, but I was able to remove nearly all of the marker.  Around half of the books still have a shadow of the price still present, but they look so much better now.

Books with prices written on the spines are quite undesirable, and the books will now look presentable on a shelf.

These books are Grosset and Dunlap matte picture covers of the 1960s.  The picture covers of the 1960s have more of a glossy matte finish.  The glossiness does help prevent marker from soaking into the cover.

Lighter fluid and eraser probably will not work on marker on the Grosset and Dunlap matte picture cover books of the 1970s and 1980s.  Those books are a porous matte.  I have tried to remove marker from those books, failing miserably.  It is better not to try.


Evelyn said...

Wow - that really made a difference! Thanks for sharing.

I really hate it when I find permanent marker or other writing on the outside of old books. Even pencil can look terrible and leave indentations, even if it can be erased away.

Tai said...

Fantastic post! I didn't know permanent marker could be removed. I think I would rather buy books from you rather than do all of that work myself. :o)

A said...

I've sometimes had success using a Lysol wipe, but you have to be careful not to use it on a cover where the liquid would sink in as opposed to just wipe something off, and you have to be cautious about how brittle the book is (ie. probably not a good idea on old leather books).