Despite living in an increasingly digitised world, books are still some of our most treasured possessions. From personal collections to student literature to business stock, there are many reasons why people need to store large quantities of books.
While storing books at home may be a viable option if your collection is small or you’re lucky enough to have the available space, for most people, there just isn’t enough room.
The urge to stuff them in the garage and forget about them can be strong but – as you will soon find out – the effects of improperly storing your books can be disastrous and result in your books becoming damaged beyond repair.
But, before we jump into the dangers, let’s first take a look at the main reasons why people need to properly store their books.
Why store books?
- Personal Collection – it’s surprising how quickly a personal book collection can build up, even for the most casual reader. From the dozens of cookery books you receive every Christmas to those classics that you’ll get round to reading one day, they all need to be kept somewhere safe and not cluttering up your home.
- Students – from the first days of primary school to deep into a university degree, compiling books is part and parcel of being a student. Many of these books are expensive so they’ll need to be taken care of. Likewise, many academic books can be re-sold or handed down to friends and family in future years so they’ll need to be stored to maintain their condition.
- Business – many independent bookshops struggle to find a cost-effective solution to their book storage needs. There’s only so much space in a shop and renting more retail space can be very expensive. Having a cheap and accessible storage space makes it easier to manage stock and keep costs down. This is particularly relevant to online bookselling businesses that need a secure space to store and manage their stock.
- Moving House – moving house can be a great opportunity to de-clutter your home and take advantage of alternative storage spaces. This is especially the case for people who are downsizing and want to keep their treasured book collection but will struggle to find the space.
What are the dangers to your books?
- Climate – like most things, books don’t like extreme temperatures. They should be kept in a storage space that has a relatively steady temperature and humidity. Too much humidity can result in mould and foxing of pages while too little can make books brittle. Some of the worst places for climate control in homes include garages and lofts, which should be reserved for your car and Christmas decorations, not your delicate books.
- Sunlight – exposure to direct sunlight will cause your books to deteriorate over time. UV radiation not only damages the integral structure of books but it will also cause the jacket and spine to fade in colour and the pages to yellow.
- Pests – mice, cockroaches, silverfish, beetles and literal bookworms, they have all been known to feast on the glue and paper that make up books. While pests do not pose a threat in many cases, the risk of damage to your books increases if they are stored improperly in places that are easily accessible to these critters.
How to pack books for storage
Now that you know why people need proper storage solutions for their books and the dangers they face if improperly stored, it’s time for some tried and tested tips on the best way to pack books for storage.
- Make sure all of your books are clean and free from dust and dirt. Once in storage, any dirt or grime on a book will continue to damage it over time and potentially damage other books in its vicinity. As an extra precaution, individually wrapping each both in protective cloth will ensure they are kept in the best possible condition (ideal for rare, limited edition or particularly treasured books).
- Pack books in small to medium sized cardboard boxes or plastic containers. Ideally these boxes would be sturdy document storage boxes that are purposefully built to hold delicate paper-based items.
- Don’t wrap books in anything plastic, including plastic bags or wrap. Plastic can trap moisture which, as we have explained above, can lead to paper crinkling and mould. Storing books in storage boxes allows air to circulate and prevents moisture from building up.
- Don’t pack books with spines up or down. The weight of the book and any other books on top will crack the binding of the book’s spine over time. Pack books either upright or flat to prevent this deterioration.
- Keep an inventory – it’s the Golden Rule of storage. Knowing what books are in storage and in which boxes will save you a great deal of time and effort when you come to retrieve your stuff. Label each box with its contents and make sure you keep the inventory in a safe place.
How to pack books for long-term storage in a storage unit
A self storage unit is one of the best places to store your books. With a consistent climate, high security and the space to meet your exact demands, a storage facility can look after your literature properly, all at a very competitive price.
When putting books into long-term storage it’s important that you pack them properly to ensure they stay in the best possible condition. Below are some storage tips for storing books in a storage unit:
- Don’t overload your storage boxes as your books could become deformed or damaged.
- Pack heavier books at the bottom of storage boxes and lighter books on top.
- Always use proper storage boxes, preferably made of robust cardboard.
- Ideally keep books and boxes off the floor using shelves or lining the floor of the storage unit with wooden pallets.
- Don’t stack storage boxes above shoulder height to avoid any accidents.
If you’re looking for a safe, accessible but cost-effective way to store your books, get in touch with the Flexible Storage team to see how we can help. With our years of experience, secure storage facility and vast supply of specialist storage materials, we can provide the best solution to your book storage needs.