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New or Used: A Glossary of Book Condition Terms, Part III

By Katie Behrens. Apr 9, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Book Care

For those at the beginning of their collecting life, it can seem like sales descriptions are filled with confusing jargon. A whole set of terms exist to identify an item’s condition and features. Taken together with our other glossaries, we hope this list of book condition terms will help you kick-start your book collecting efforts.


Caring for Rare Books Bound in Vellum

By Matt Reimann. Mar 14, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care, Learn About Books

Vellum is a printing material which was used as early as 2000 BC. It frequently appears in old, rare books as well as maps, deeds, and other important documents. It is valued for its distinct feel and assumed nobility. Gutenberg printed bibles with it; the Declaration of Independence is written on it; and the UK still prints its Acts of Parliament on vellum for archival purposes. Read on for a brief history of vellum and some insight into vellum preservation best practices.


Caring for Handwritten Documents

By Matt Reimann. Jan 5, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care, Learn About Books

Handwritten documents belong to a special part of a branch of print-collecting called ephemera. The Ephemera Society of the United Kingdom defines such artifacts as "the minor transient documents of everyday life." Ephemera encompass everything from leaflets to tickets to trading cards. There is a particular challenge in the preservation of ephemera, as ephemera are not made to last beyond their brief application. This often means that the materials used are less durable than those of a typical book. Thus, there is a gleeful rebellion in the act of preserving ephemera. While the documents were intended to be discarded, as the collector, it's your duty to ensure it lasts through the ages.


Collecting Rare Books FAQ: Ex-Library Copies

If you've taken up rare book collecting, you've probably encountered the phrase “ex-library copy” or seen the shorthand “ex-lib” in a book description. Collectors have varied reactions to the ex-library copy, and it's important to make an informed decision before you add ex-library copies to your own personal library.


Ephemera and Your Rare Book Collection

By Kristin Masters. Jul 15, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Book Care

If you'’ve chosen a theme or focus for your rare book collection, eventually you'’ll want to move beyond books and collect related items as well. These may include magazines, posters, or other paper objects. Known as  ephemera , such items can add depth, interest, and value to a personal collection.      

Ghosting and Sunning and Foxing, Oh My!

By Kristin Masters. May 18, 2014. 8:40 PM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care

If you're new to the world of book collecting, you've undoubtedly encountered plenty of jargon already. Rare and antiquarian book dealers often painstakingly describe a book's condition because it's such an important aspect of the book's value. Reputable dealers are as accurate as possible in their descriptions, and it's not unusual to run into the terms "ghosting," "sunning," and "foxing," all of which refer to different causes of discoloration to paper. 


Between the Covers - Reflections of a Bookbinder and Artist

By Kristin Masters. Sep 17, 2013. 1:02 PM.

Topics: Book Care

As an apprentice to the craft of binding and restoring rare books, the author discovered “the sense of pride that comes from being part of a lineage stronger than blood and the responsibility of passing on that craft to the next heir.”

By the time I reached the University of Oklahoma library, I was already thirty minutes late. I took the elevator to the fifth floor, using the time to quietly think of an acceptable excuse. 


Meet Steve Berry, Bestselling Author & Preservation Week's National Spokesperson

By Kristin Masters. Apr 22, 2013. 1:29 PM.

Topics: Book Care, Book News

Today we celebrate Preservation Week! Organized by the American Library Association (ALA), the event reminds us of the importance of preserving not only our personal past, but also the vast resources of our libraries. In 2005, a comprehensive national survey showed that US institutions hold over 4.8 billion items, 63% of which are in libraries. Uncounted items held by individuals also include books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, ephemera, audio recordings, and objects.


How to Prevent Ghosting and Shadowing in Rare Books

By Kristin Masters. Mar 14, 2013. 8:10 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care

When it comes to rare books, condition is everything. Any kind of damage, discoloration, or flaw can significantly impact a book's value. One of the most common flaws we see in rare and antiquarian books is a condition called ghosting or shadowing. This condition occurs when a page fades unevenly, leaving a visible outline on the page.


Meet Brien Beidler, Charleston's Newest Book Binder!

By Kristin Masters. Jan 9, 2013. 1:17 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Book Care

Here at Books Tell You Why, we love all things Charleston, especially the Charleston Library Society. Recently the Society opened up a new bindery and asked an emerging talent in the book binding world to take its helm. At 22, Brien represents a new generation of dedication to rare and antiquarian books. Brien was kind enough to chat with us about how he discovered the craft of book binding, the projects he's worked on, and the future of his craft.


About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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