Protect your paperbacks!!
Are you someone who loves reading paperbacks because they’re easy to handle, but hate how easy they are to beat up? Maybe you’re like me and HATE cracked spines on mass market paperbacks. I used to love the look of a well-warn, well-loved book. But ever since becoming a “book collector” I like to keep my books super pristine.
Enter “contact adhesive” for protecting your books!
In this blog, I’m going to offer a step by step process for wrapping your books. If you’re curious about the benefits, you might be surprised. Beyond the obvious, like the fact that it keeps your books from getting dirty, it also adds an extra layer that discourages bending, to better protect the cover. It is supposed to keep the spines from cracking, making it ideal for mass market paperbacks. I haven’t read one with the adhesive on it yet, so I can’t confirm this, but I’m told it does. The biggest win is the UV protection. For books you want to keep nice for 10+ years, this adhesive keeps the color from fading. Remember those paperbacks from the 70s? Those covers yellowed over time. This will keep the colors bright and fresh.
So, let’s get started!
—Adhesive contact paper. I use one from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G6N62W0?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details
This was enough to do 5 paperbacks. That’s kind of pricy at $2 per paperback. I think there’s cheaper stuff out there but this had prime so it was convenient.
—A paperback book
That’s it. So, let’s get started.
1. Measure how much adhesive contact paper you’ll need. Think of how you’d wrap a present. Make sure you have enough for front, back, spine and a little on sides, top, and bottom to fold over.
2. Once you cut the paper, peel it back against a surface, where the adhesive is facing down, and the paper peels up and away. It might be inclined to roll, but once you peel away the backing, the clear adhesive actually stays nice and flat on the surface.
3. Pick a side, I like to do the front first, and “roll” it onto the paper. Start with the edge and lay it down in an arching rolling motion. This is so that you can ideally avoid air bubbles. However, it’s likely that you will see them. So simply flip the book over and peel the adhesive back and start at the edges, pressing it down. Work your way from one edge towards the spine. You want to avoid air bubbles, so work them out. Peel it up as many times as necessary if there are bubbles.
4. Now it’s time for the spine. It’s easiest to do this over the edge of a surface like a table. Hold the adhesive in one hand and use your other to work it down the spine from top to bottom. You always want to work edge to edge.
5. For the last side. The back cover in this case, start from the spine and work it to the edge. Use a pressing/sweeping motion with your fingers to adhere the clear adhesive working to eliminate any bubbles. Keep the paper held in one hand while you work with the other.
6. Once it is adhered to all three sides with no bubbles, it’s time to cut and fold the edges. You want to cut at a steep angle on each of the corners and spine so that you can fold it over. Be careful NOT to cut any of the actual cover off when you’re cutting away the corners of the adhesive.
7. I fold the long edge first. I work it with my fingers starting in the middle and working my way up and down. You have to go by feel here. You want to make sure it folds cleanly with no bubbles. You can always peel it up and start over if you get a crease.
8. Do the top and bottom edges after. Same technique here. Start in the middle. I have found it easiest to do this “blind” where I don’t look at what I’m doing from the inside but actually have the cover face me and use the feel of my fingers to fold the adhesive over cleanly, working it middle outward. It’s best if you can have the book sitting on the table so that you can work with both hands.
9. For the spine, you simply cut the extra adhesive away. No folding for this. You want to get the scissors as close as possible to the spine so that you don’t have any hanging over. I like to get super close because I don’t want sticky hanging over.
Well, that’s about it. Work to press the edges once you’re done. They tend to want to not adhere as well as the rest of the cover. The great news is, you can remove the adhesive whenever. It’s not damaging. So you can do it as much as you want. I got mine correct on the first go. I went slow. So it’s not too difficult. Just requires a little patience. I can do 1 book in about 15 minutes. It does give it a bit of a plastic look when it catches light in certain ways, which makes it feel like a library book. But the important thing is, it’s protected!
Here’s a link to the video I discovered with great instructions on how to do this on YouTube: