store self-published books

How to Store Self-Published Books Properly

Ann O'Brien

September 29, 2022

Bibliophiles, self-published authors, and avid readers of all ages likely have one common problem: where to store self-published books. We tuck them into the few, spare inches of crowded bookshelves, stack them perilously on nightstands or even use a few copies to lift a knickknack on display. But these are not long-term solutions for storing volumes of books safely or for any length of time. So how can you store self-published books properly to preserve them for future use or sale?

How to Store Self-Published Books

Your house may feel more like a warehouse somedays if you have recently self-published a book. Finding a way to secure them for the future is a good idea so your investment and hard work won’t end up crinkled, damp or dirty when the sales begin. But whether you have 10 or 10,000 copies on your hands, preserving your books so they stay clean, dry and pest-free is key to their longevity. So let’s take a look at the top tips to follow to keep your books in excellent condition, no matter how long you need your book storage to last.

1. Store Self-Published Books Vertically

The look of a library is unmistakable with the spines of books of all sizes lined up neatly on sturdy shelves. But there is a reason beyond the aesthetics why libraries store books this way: it is the safest book storage method. While stacking some books horizontally to intersperse with vertical, spine-outward books may look gorgeous on a bookshelf, books that are laid flat and stacked atop another over time will become damaged. And for self-publishing authors, book storage of unsold copies should be all about safekeeping practices. A book’s safest storage style is vertically to take advantage of the spine and cover’s built-in strength. No matter where the books are kept, keep them upright and secured so they will not fall or slide when possible.

2. Avoid Direct Sunlight to Store Self-Published Books

UV rays are damaging to our skin and books alike. Direct sunlight, made up of UV rays, can fade bright colors on a book’s cover and impact how the ink looks on a book’s page. Damaging rays can also discolor book pages and make them turn brittle over time as well as impact the strength of glue used to bind book covers. So choose a book storage location that is out of direct light to preserve your books’ fresh, new appearance so it is ready to be delivered to their reader at any time.

3. Use a Dry Environment

The location that you pick to store self-published books should not be high in humidity. So rooms nearby water sources like bathrooms or laundry areas typically have more moisture and are not good choices for keeping books in pristine condition. Damp basements or garages are not good locations for keeping books dry either, as spaces with a close air conditioning vent may increase the room’s moisture when in use. Ideally, books should be held in a room no warmer than 75 degrees, but watch out for the relative humidity in a room of any temperature to protect your books best.

4. Choose Safe Storage Containers

Keeping a large quantity on bookshelves is not possible for most people, even though the airflow on shelves provide the best way to keep books dry and mold-free. But using a storage container is a great solution when shelf space isn’t available. But don’t just toss your pristine books into any old container you have lying around. Instead, choose a safe book storage container so you can be confident that your books will look just as good when you retrieve them as they did when you first placed them inside.

  • Cardboard Boxes: Your books may have arrived in double-walled cardboard boxes and if the boxes are in good condition, undamaged and dry, they are a good place to store self-published books. Boxes with this dual cardboard construction provide protection and a little airflow around the books, making them a good place to store books. But be sure to place the books in a low humidity location with no chance of water infiltration as cardboard can easily become damp, damaging the contents inside of the box.
  • Plastic Tubs: An excellent storage container option for storing self-published books is a dark plastic tub. Clear or light-colored tubs can allow harmful UV rays to damage the tub’s contents, but dark containers will provide protection from any damaging sun that is directly on them. The plastic material is also a good barrier against moisture so books inside may be safe from variable humidity or accidental water exposure. Books inside plastic tubs should be stored horizontally rather than vertically so they don’t lean or slip over and become damaged during storage.

5. Discourage Critters

It’s easy to imagine that books can become damaged during storage by being exposed to dampness, falling or slipping over or experiencing damaging UV rays in direct sunlight. But books can also become damaged or even destroyed by bugs or animals while they are tucked away in a box, container or on the shelf in an out-of-the-way location. Small critters like mice can feast on the pages of stored books and moths and other insects can infest containers or storage areas that are dark and infrequently disturbed like garages or basements. But authors who have large quantities of books to store can apply a few tricks to their chosen storage area to discourage these unwelcome pests from ruining copies of their latest book.

  • Use a strongly scented deterrent. Mice and other small animals dislike strong smells like mint or other essential oils with a concentrated scent. Soaking cotton balls in a strong scent and placing them strategically nearby where your books are stored can discourage vermin from nibbling on tasty book pages, covers or storage containers. But be sure to avoid touching a book with the saturated cotton ball so the strong smell or oil residue does not transfer to the books themselves.
  • Employ anti-insect elements. Sprinkle spicy black pepper around the perimeter of the book storage location to act as a natural insect barrier around boxes, containers or shelves. Some outdoor stores sell anti-insect powders that can be used in the same way but make sure that it is safe for anyone else that may come into contact with it like children or pets before using any chemical deterrents.

Store Your Self-Published Books the Right Way

Whether you already have a bundle of books to take care of or you are just planning where to put the extra copies of the book you are planning to write, knowing the proper way to store self-published books will ensure that you can enjoy them at any time or you will be able to send them off to their new homes in perfect condition.

And authors who work with quality printers like Publishing Xpress already know that the quality of their books will stand the test of time if they take good care of them whether they are kept on the shelf or in a container in safe conditions. So when your home feels more like a home office with boxes of books and orders to fulfill, remember to keep your extra copies in a cool, dry, darkened place when you are not shipping off new copies to your readers. All of the hard work it took to turn your dreams into a published book doesn’t have to be ruined when you remember to store your books safely right from the start.

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