Two things I particularly love about book collecting:
It is a game, and
I get to make up (some of) the rules.
Not all the rules are free for interpretation. The ones that aren’t are mostly dictated by market forces – scarce books are worth more than common ones, books in good condition are worth more than beat-up ones, and so on.
But the beauty of scouting books, especially for your own collection, is that you really can do it on any budget and at any price point. I make approximately $30,000 per year as a freelance writer, and I pay hefty medical bills – yet I can also support my book-collecting habit easily on less than $50.00 per month.
Here are my personal rules for finding and buying collectible books:
1. If I spend more than $30.00 in any one shop, I’m doing it wrong. 2. I shall never pay more than $1.00 for a paperback or $2.00 for a hardcover unless I am absolutely certain the book will sell for at least three times (3x) the asking price, or it’s a fair market price for a book I plan to add to my personal collection.
3. If it’s not a first edition, I can’t afford it. Not even if it’s free.
4. I may only buy as many books as I am physically able to carry to the register in one trip.
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.