The Book Doctor Is In: Protecting Hardcover Books

book doctorProtecting Hardcover Books

As the cost of hardcover books approaches $30 each, it becomes ever more important to protect your collection from damage. One of the easiest and least costly ways to do this and retain the visual appeal of the dust jacket graphics is to add plastic book jacket covers. Book jacket covers are available in a wide variety of styles. However, the specific style you choose often boils down to a matter of personal preference.

Book Jacket Cover Terminology

Before we deal with specific types of covers, let’s clarify some terms:

  • Mil: The measurement of the thickness of the plastic film in the book jacket cover. One mil is 1/1,000 (0.001) inch. The film in book jacket covers sold by Demco ranges from 1 to 4 mils.
  • Adjustable vs. Exact-size Covers: Adjustable covers can fit any book within a wide range of heights, while exact-size covers will fit only one specific height.
  • Paper Liners: Paper attached to most book jacket covers provides added body to improve durability. The paper liners in all of the covers sold by Demco are acid free to further protect the book’s dust jacket.
  • Polyester vs. Polypropylene vs. Vinyl: All are types of plastic film, but polyester is much stronger than polypropylene or vinyl. Only polyester and polypropylene are safe for archival materials. All of Demco’s covers are polyester except Econofold which is polypropylene. Vinyl is not a stable material and chemicals will migrate into other materials as the vinyl becomes brittle. Vinyl covers should not be used although some suppliers may offer them.
  • Tape Tabs & Continuous Adhesive: Most of Demco’s adjustable book jacket covers with paper liners have a small tab of double-sided tape preinstalled to aid in fitting it to the dust jacket. The Securefold™ covers have a continuous strip of adhesive which provides additional durability.
  • Attaching Tape: This is the tape that secures the book jacket cover to the book. My two favorites are Demco® Film-fiber Tape, which is available in rolls, and Demco 3 mil polyethylene Pre-cut Book Jacket Tape tabs. Avoid transparent mending tape as it will not hold up. Also avoid filament tape which will fray over time.

How to Choose the “Right” Book Jacket Cover

Choosing your preferred style of book jacket cover may involve a bit of trial and error. The chart below provides an overview of what is available along with links to where you will find additional information about each style. Note that most styles are available in both continuous rolls and individual sheets and many are available in packages of assorted popular sizes.

The following chart will help you differentiate the many options available.

Adjustable
MATERIALS
  • 1.5 mil Polyester
  • 1.5 mil Polyester
  • 2 mil Polyester
  • 2.5 mil Polypropylene
  • 4 mil Polyester
  • 1 mil Polyester
  • 1.5 mil Polyester
  • 2 mil Polyester
FEATURES
  • Tape tabs
  • Continuous adhesive
  • Tape tabs
  •  
  • Tape tabs
    Blocks ultraviolet light
  •  
  •  
PAPER LINER
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • No
  • No
  • No
Exact Size
STYLE
MATERIALS
  • 1.5 mil Polyester
FEATURES
  •  
PAPER LINER
  • Yes

Ten different styles and I can’t say which is the best for you although the Paperfold continues to be the best-selling book jacket cover in the lineup because it has a good mix of durability, ease of use and cost.

You may find that one type of cover works best in one situation while something else is better adapted for another circumstance. For instance, if your library receives a large number of books in one size, it makes sense to keep an inventory of exact-size covers that will fit these books. Since all your books will not be that particular size, it also makes sense to maintain a supply of adjustable covers to fit the other books.

If you’re covering children’s books that will receive heavy use, you may opt for the extra strength of the 2 mil polyester found in the Superfold and Durafold II.

If you’re dealing with books that will be gently used, you can reduce cost a bit with Paperfold, Securefold, Durafold or Polyfit.

If cost is your primary concern, go with the Econofold or Budget covers.

In case you are not familiar with how to apply book jacket covers, I assure you it’s very simple. Just review the following instructions for both adjustable and exact-size covers. Noted that these same instructions are also packaged with every order.

Applying Adjustable Book Jacket Covers

Applying Exact-size Book Jacket Covers

As always, feel free to use the link below to post any comments or questions and I’ll respond. I may use your input in future posts.

Throughout this series, we’ll be referring to two resources from Demco. The pamphlet Demco Collection Care Guide and the Demco Collection Care DVD are both available to help you through your book repair challenges.

Author

John Ison

John Ison

John Ison retired in 2011 after working with Demco for more than 25 years, most recently as the Director of Library Relations. During that time he conducted over 300 book repair workshops, wrote the Demco Collection Care Guide, and wrote and produced the Demco Collection Care DVD.