Introduction:Whether you're selling used books online or maintaining your own personal book collection, you can clean your used books to remove stickers, sticker residue and any scuffs or marks.
When cleaning used books, I remove all stickers first; check both front and back covers. Goo Gone is my first weapon of choice when I'm trying to remove sticky adhesive, but a little goes a long way. Only use it on shiny book covers that have that thin plastic coating; Goo Gone will ruin any paper-only book covers. Lighter fluid is a long-time favorite of many book dealers for removing sticky residue on books. It works, but use it sparingly.
I always wipe down books with a damp rag once the price stickers are removed. Again, I only use a damp rag on shiny book covers that won't be damaged by doing this. Wiping down a book cover with a damp rag removes any fingerprints or dirt or anything that has attached itself to the book cover.
White erasers are great for cleaning books and are easier on book pages than the pink erasers many of us are familiar with. I use the white erasers to remove any penciled in prices or names written inside the front cover and any notes throughout the book. If there are notes in pencil on only a few pages, it's worth it to remove them, but I don't spend the time removing notes written throughout the entire book. White erasers also work well on the outside covers of books that are only paper and do not have that thin plastic coating; use the eraser on these covers to remove any scuffs or dirt.
What?! Use sandpaper on books? Yes, very carefully and only on the edges of the pages. To remove marks or scuffs or whatever is on the edges of the book pages, here is what I do: hold the pages of the book very tightly with one hand, but do not include the book covers because sanding the cover edges will make them frayed and ruined. With a very fine grit of sandpaper, gently sand the soiled or scuffed areas of the page edges. Huge tip: run the sandpaper in only one direction, lift off the page edges and do it again going in the same direction. If you go back and forth, you may cause the edges to tear. Book pages aren't always very strong, so be careful doing this.
A small bottle of acid-free glue is an essential tool in my home-made book repair kit. It doesn't clean anything, but it is the last step in cleaning up books. I use it very sparingly to dot on the corner of a paperback book cover that is starting to split or to tack down a small piece on the spine that is starting to tear and peel away. Use less that you think you'll need because you can always add more, but if you use too much, it's hard to clean it up without getting it all over the book.
When in doubt of a book cleaning method, try it on a less valuable book first to avoid damaging a unique and valuable book in your collection.
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