I love buying second hand books, but I always have to pause when I'm looking at the book sale shelf at the public library. Sometimes they have really great titles that have been deleted, not because they're worn out, but because the library has too many copies. And they're ridiculously cheap, much cheaper than any other second hand store. That sounds like a steal, right?
There's just one tiny problem. They're covered with spine labels and other library paraphernalia.
Call me shallow, but I want my books to look pretty on my bookshelves. I want my books to look nice, clean and not like I stole them from the library! Luckily, my library doesn't use marker or stamps on the sides of pages, so the only real issues I have are the spine labels and the barcode on the front cover. Sick of letting good books pass me by, I learned how to get rid of those ugly spine labels and I want to share my (extremely simple) technique with you.
Remind yourself to be very careful with all of the following steps. Books can tear and removing labels is a delicate process.
Gently rip off as much of the label as you can. Pick off all of the exterior tape, so you're left with sticky residue and a bit of the paper label. See picture below.
Use rubbing alcohol to wet a paper-towel or rag. For this book I just used a paper-towel, but I noticed that sometimes the paper-towel balls up and gets stuck in the stickiness. If you have a particularly sticky label, use some type of cloth rag.
Rubbing alcohol dries uncommonly fast, so you will have to keep adding it to your cloth. Do not apply directly to the book, because there's a danger of it leaking into the paper pages. Keep all moisture on the shiny cover part.
Start by getting rid of the sticky residue on the front and back covers where the tape was. Depending on the level of stickiness, this will take some time; do not be discouraged. In order to get it completely clean you have to scrub at it. I used my fingernail to scrape at it through the paper-towel, but you can use a Popsicle stick.
Start by wetting the entire paper label with rubbing alcohol. See how much you can rid of by using your cloth to rub over the entire surface to wear down the paper. The best approach is to start at one of the edges. Using the same method as step 4, start to scrap away the paper label, until all that's remaining is sticky residue. Repeat step 4 and enjoy your label-free book!
|There's a slight fading from where the label was, but other than that there's no trace of the library!|
What not to do:
-Don't try using a craft knife to scrape the label away. You just end up with slices in your book and nicks on your fingers
-Don't try using heat from a candle to loosen up the glue. You'll burn the book. I'm not speaking from personal experience. Nope, no burnt books on my shelf...
-Don't break through the plastic seal on the cover of your book or try this method on cloth or paper books with an unsealed cover (aka it's not shiny)
-Don't use this method to steal book from the library or any other nefarious purposes
The real trick to making this method work is to use your elbow grease and lots of rubbing alcohol. It takes a bit of time to get the book looking perfect, but I was really happy with the result. This method also worked on the barcode. Let me know in the comments how you remove those pesky labels! Do you even bother with buying book from the library or removing the labels? Thoughts and comments always welcome!
Reading: Defy by Sara B. Larson
Listening: The Weepies
Watching: Gilmore Girls
Previously on A Splash of Photography: Frozen Beach