Tips – Care and maintenance of your Blurb books

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As a former bookstore owner, I frequently had to fix, repair, and/or enhance some of the books that crossed my counter. Fixing and repairing books is not as hard as it sounds and will help when small problems arise. That said, if there are any problems with your Blurb book when you receive it, please contact our Customer Support staff. These tips will help with problems that might come up later, as is the case with older books, those handled a lot and/or when your nephew accidentally makes a 3-inch rip to the dust jacket of your family vacation book. We can’t replace the book if your nephew is involved, but these tips just might save the day.

Doing self-repairs is a personal choice and not guaranteed by Blurb, so I suggest testing out some of these techniques before trying them on your Blurb books, as a little practice goes a long way.

Here are four simple things anyone can do to help ensure their books are well cared for and last a good long time.

1) Fingerprint removal: If your book’s cover has acquired a few fingerprints or smudges, get a soft cotton cloth, spray a little ammonia-based cleaning product on it and then gently wipe down the affected areas. Just lightly spray your cloth, since you can repeat this process if needed. Never spray any cleaning solutions directly on your book or use this method to clean its pages as this tip will work only on your cover.

2) Dust jacket protection: If the dust jacket for your hardcover book has a small (or large) rip or tear, you can make it look much better without too much trouble. You just need some transparent tape. To begin, remove the dust jacket from your book and turn it over – so that the blank side is up – and lay it out flat on a large clean surface. Do your best to bring the problem area back together cleanly. Now tape up the rip or tear with the smallest amount of the tape possible, making sure to cover as much of the affected area as needed. The trick here is to not use too much tape, as you don’t want it to go past the edge of your dust jacket, get folded over to the other side, or have it hanging over the edge.

Serious collectors might want to add a mylar plastic cover to their books to help prevent rips, tears, staining, and other issues. There are many types of mylar covers available that are used by thousands of rare book dealers and libraries to help protect their books. They’re easy to use and will significantly add years of shelf life to your masterpiece. You can find more information about mylar covers here.

3) Loose pages remedy: If your book has a page or two coming loose (due to binding failure), we will be happy to replace it for you. But if you would rather fix it on your own, it’s pretty easy.

Here’s what you’ll need:
- toothpick (or any small thin tool, preferably without a sharp edge to it)
- soft cotton cloth
- small bottle of nail polish remover
- rubber cement (Elmer’s glue will also work)

First, lay your book on a clean flat surface and open it up to the affected pages. Next, dip your toothpick into the glue and run a thin line down the gutter (or seam), repeat as needed. (You’ll need only a small amount of glue and a small stripe is the desired amount.) If you have any accidents or overruns of glue, simply dab a small amount of the nail polish remover on the cloth and then gently clean up any excess glue.

Once you’ve placed a thin stripe of glue down the gutter, close your book, check the edges (top and bottom) for any extra glue (wipe with cloth if there is) and then stack about 4 or 5 larger books on top of it and let it sit for at least 24 hours.

The first time you attempt this you may use too much glue, so the less you use, the better. Do your best to get a solid thin stripe of glue on the gutter but it does not have to be perfect. Also, do not apply the nail polish remover straight to your book or you will damage it.

4) Storage tip: Finally, let’s face it, most books do better if lined up on a shelf. So, when you’re not displaying your books on your coffee-table, bookshelves are the next best thing. Books do not age well if left lying flat, as they can become spine-cocked. If you want your book to look as good as it did the day it arrived, keeping it shelved, and lightly dusting it at least once a month will help keep it in pristine condition for many years to come.

And that’s it. If you have questions, comments or a couple of tips of your own that you would like to share, post them below. I’m sure others would like to hear them.

Customer Support Representative

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  1. I just received two B&W Blurb books. The B&W quality is far below par. There is a magenta cast in all the highlights. I am a professional photographer and have all my equipment colour profiled and corrected.
    The finish of the wraparound cover left the ends of the spine pinched and dented. I am really dissapointed with the product as I had intended in ordering 50 books as a portfolio mailing.

      August 4, 2008 – 6:12 pm   Permalink
  2. Hi Barry,

    We sure don’t like to hear that people are disappointed with our books. Please contact Customer Support and someone will make sure we get things right.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      August 6, 2008 – 12:41 pm   Permalink
  3. Thank you so much for helping me to put my families memories of our wonderful trip in print. We absolutely love it and will treasure it always. It turned out better than I could have hoped for!

    By Mandy Kelly
      August 6, 2008 – 8:22 pm   Permalink
  4. Like Barry above, I am a professional photographer and recently puchased a Blurb book containing a number of my images but published by another photographer. It was a substantial investment (several hundred dollars) because of the size of the tome. It was severely damaged on the spine as a consequence of poor packaging when delivered. I reported to Blurb who promptly replaced the book. Unfortunately, nothing was done to address the poor packing, so the second volume suffered at the hands of the postal system in exactly the same manner. If this happened in my business, I reckon I wouldn’t have one!

    I am part way through preparing two books of my own and about to embark on an ambitious travel project to produce a third book in Morocco, specifically Fes, by living in the Medina with local people. My serious concern is the choice of reliable publisher. The convenience of Blurb appeals to me but I could not in all honesty ask clients to pay for the results I have experienced at their hands.

      September 3, 2008 – 8:34 pm   Permalink
  5. I just ordered and received my latest book–my third, BTW-
    Thanks! The colors are fabulous. The photo bleeds lined up better than I anticipated. I just downloaded 9.7 and I am glad you guys figured out a way to add more pages while locking spreads. With the previous one, it was a challenge to add more pages where I wanted, knowing that all subsequent pages (photos) would shift to the right. Kudos!

      September 4, 2008 – 8:02 am   Permalink
  6. Hi, can you tell me if its possible to add background images, I would like to put a faded background image down as a full bleed then add one or two small images over the top.If not could this be something that may be added in a future version?

    By fstop
      September 11, 2008 – 1:49 pm   Permalink
  7. I am professional photographer and use Blurb books frequently. I mostly use large 11×13 books for my clients. I know that there are few different layouts to use when designing photo book, however I always found them bit limited since most of them are made to be used with text as well. I noticed that there are more and better choice of layouts for smaller 8×10 books.
    Could we have some more choices, nothing fancy, just simple rectangular in the middle of the page in various ratios, two per page upright and landscape again in couple of different rations not just panoramic fit or square.
    Even better, if we can create layout and save it, that would be ideal, a grid to help with alignment would be welcome.

      November 20, 2008 – 10:07 am   Permalink

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