old bookseller tricks – patience

Whether you are removing self-adhesive stickers, pre-gummed bookplates or other book fixes, even using my book deodorizer product, a MAJOR factor in a successful fix is time and patience. I didn’t video this bookplate removal today, because it was 20 minutes of very boring, very minute work with a Q-tip and naphtha. If you scroll back far enough in the Bullpen, you will find many more mentions of naphtha (lighter fluid) and its wonderful property of dissolving acrylic sticker adhesive then evaporating harmlessly. Obviously some incredible idiot felt that his signature was nicer to look at than President Ford’s, so he slapped a bookplate over it. The odds were that the plate was gummed (water soluble) or acrylic adhesive (heat or chemical release) – and the signature was indelible Sharpie marker and the paper was coated – so 20 minutes of patience successfully restored Jerry’s hand. Heat or water may have created a ripple in the paper. So, like with all fixes you need to analyze the situation and test your fixes on similar papers and sacrificial books. Which is a step many people skip. Yesterday, I got a panicked phone call from a high end seller who was worried that the book deodorizer hadn’t worked on the text blocks yet. He had only used it for 4 days – and the product is a passive 14+ days fix. Impatience gets people in a lot of tight spots and makes for sloppy results.

  • Group repairs together by difficulty. Do small repairs in batches, and big repairs alone.
  • Be PATIENT – set repair projects aside for quiet time, late night or early morning, weekends, holidays, times when nothing else is demanding your attention.
  • Clear the work area of everything else.
  • Assemble your tools, even ones you may not need.
  • Don’t use household tools, have TWO sets, and keep your repair tools in a special box, drawer or tool box.
  • Turn on music – not talk. Personally I yell at talk radio, so it’s not calming.
  • Don’t have a cup at hand. You’d be surprised at this one, but trust me.
  • If you have pets, secure your work area when you walk away. Close liquids, cover papers.
  • Let things dry at their own pace, which means overnight if need be.
  • When you are finished, clean your tools and put them away.
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