[Wendy] also wore her mother’s long bathrobe and had this crazy-looking fur thing wrapped around her neck. It had eyes, paws, a tail and everything.
“Animals are for loving, not wearing,” I told her.
“I know it,” said Wendy, “but this thing is very old. It belonged to my grandmother. And in those days they didn’t know about ecology.”
– Judy Blume, Blubber
Books: they are made from animals.
These days, most books are actually made of some combination of paper, cloth, and/or plastic. Animal products are rare, and mostly consist of various kinds of leather used in fancy-schmancy gift editions (or attempted forgeries). Back in the day, however, animal products were more common than not, and knowing your animals is a big part of knowing how to navigate the world of rare books.
Brodart (or, for Canadians, Brodart) is not the only maker of those handy dust jacket covers you see on library books, but they’re the classic. And their “How to Apply Brodart Center-Slit Book Jacket Covers” instructions come in both English and French, so that’s cool.
Book covers are a relatively cheap way to protect the dust jackets on your best-beloved, favorite, and/or collectible books from damage. They’re also kind of fun to put on, if by “fun” you mean “requiring way too much attention to detail and not something the cat can help you with at all.” Therefore, allow me to present How to Use Dust Jacket Covers (In Just 72 Easy Steps):
Step One: According to Brodart’s instructions, Step One is to “place book jacket cover – film side down, paper side up – on a flat surface.”
Step Two: “Remove dust jacket from book and insert it – printed side down – between center-slit reinforcing paper and film. If the cover is an exact fit, proceed to step 5.”
Step Two Point Five: Brodart doesn’t mention this one, probably because its instructions are written for the individual center-slit jackets, not the ones that come on the roll (which is what I’m using here, obvs). But trust me on this one, for it’s important: Mark the spot where the dust jacket ends with a pencil, then tug the dust jacket out of the way while you cut along the pencil line.
The alternative is to leave the dust jacket in place while you cut, which, if you’re a klutz like me, is a great way to chop right through the edge of a dust jacket. Please do not ask which beautiful book I mangled in figuring this out.
Step 3: “If the cover is not an exact fit, position edge of dust jacket where film and paper are joined together.”
The one in my photos isn’t. It doesn’t much matter whether you line up the top or the bottom edge. I didn’t photograph this step because, if you’ve done it right, the dust jacket is completely encased in the dust jacket protector and you can’t see it anyway.
A quick perusal of my new crop of library books indicates that the library staff, instead of positioning one edge of the dust jacket at the edge of the cover, positioned it more or less in the middle and folded both long ends over. It probably doesn’t matter which you use as far as book protection is concerned, but the library’s covers do look much less amateur than mine. (The library used adhesive, though, which THOU SHALT NOT DO if the value of the book matters at all to you. If not, then Adhere What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the law, and so on.)
Step Four: “Fold opposite edge of cover along the edge of the dust jacket and crease.”
Step Five: “Wrap the cover and the dust jacket around the book.”
Step Six: Do not use adhesive. Unless you are a librarian. Then you might want to use adhesive. Librarians: curiously sticky since 1939.
Next time: another reason not to write your name in a book; the only adhesive you should ever allow to touch a collectible book and the only situation in which you should use it; and Bill Moyers Is Awesome, But He Really Needs To Stop Signing Books On The Flyleaf.
There are enough books in the world to keep my bibliophilia happy forever – and probably yours, too. Unfortunately, waaaay too many of those books are what the bookselling industry generously calls “reading copies” – because reading is all they are good for.
It doesn’t much matter what you do to your books if you only want to read them once, but if you want to re-read them, give them to friends, sell them at a garage sale, or ignore them while you become a superstar and then watch from Heaven as the unwashed masses fight over them along with your other now-famous possessions after you die, it’s a good idea to take care of them. Not doing any of the following is a great way to start.