Add Years To Your Rulebooks (and Other Softcover Treasures)

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The truth of the matter is that a lot of great reference books, novels, and even beloved comics compiled in trade paperback form get thrown in backpacks, purses, and lent out to trusted friends who are saintly enough to return them. Too much love, however, wreaks all sorts of awful damage on these books, since their only protection is slightly heavier paper than the paper the words are printed on.

Having spent a summer volunteering at a local library and taping softcover treasures to protect them from the damaging effects of human love, it seems only fair to share how some heavy-duty packing tape, an exacto knife, and a cutting mat is all you need to squeeze a little more time and lend those books a little more resiliency to the abuses of constant use*. (Optional equipment: scissors for easier tape cutting and a ruler to more easily trim the tape.)

Step 1: Tape the top and bottom of the covers

You’ll need to lay out a piece of tape long enough to at least cover the back cover edge, wrapping it around the spine and across the front of the cover. You want the tape to overhang the edge of the cover by at least 1/2″.

Score the tape the width of the spine.

Fold over the edge of tape over the front and back cover edge. Trim any excess tape.  Taping these edges help prevent the wear of packing and transporting books when they’re upright, which tends to damage and bend the pages.

Step 2: Tape the spine

Lay a piece of tape across the spine down the middle of the width of the tape. Fold over the front and back cover, and trim the excess. This piece of tape helps protect the spine from damage, keeping the pages together for longer.

Step 3: Tape the exterior edges

Lay a piece of tape with the middle of the tape aligning with the cover’s edge. Fold it over and trim the excess. This last piece of tape strengthens the book edges from handling, which get bent when the book is opened and helps reinforce the book when it’s closed but in a backpack or bag being transported.

That’s it! It’s super simple and easy but spending the time to help protect your books will give you years more enjoyment out of them.  Short of cutting the spine, laminating each page and coil binding the whole shebang together again; taping your books can let you rest a little easier that your books won’t disintegrate while in your backpack, bag, or purse. Moreover, if you do choose to lend out your softcover books, you can similarly rest assured that you did everything for them to prepare them for their gaunt into the wilderness a friend’s (sometimes too loving) care.

*Caveat: Taping books isn’t scientifically proven to make them resistant to biting, but it in the writer’s experience, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

What simple hacks do you use to help protect your gaming treasures? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Images & Blog Images: Teri Litorco

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