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How often do we spend a handsome sum on either a great new or out-of-print second-hand shipbuilding book?  I’m sure many of us have a nice collection of shipbuilding references on our shelves; however, how many of us know about protecting our book’s dust jackets (often called dust wrappers in the UK and elsewhere)?


You may be asking, “Why would I want to go to the bother and expense of putting a cover over my book dust jackets?”  It’s a good and fair question to ask!  Good Mylar covers, with archival paper inserts, are wonderful for protecting your book’s dust jackets when they are either on or off your books or when you're taking your books off or putting them back onto your book shelves.


In addition to protecting your book dust jackets, the condition of a book’s dust jacket has a direct bearing on a book’s resale value, which is known to most book dealers but not most folks—this is something I learned along the way as a long-time collector (and reader) of literary first editions.  If your dust jackets are covered, you can count on getting better prices from book dealers if you choose to sell your books.  I won’t go into the ins and outs of book or dust jacket grading, but the protection does help add to or maintain a collectible book’s value.


Because model shipbuilding is a relatively small, niche market good books often go out-of-print.  If you’re serious into obtaining a good shipbuilding reference library, you’ve probably learned that many of the classic, must have books, are out-of-print. Likewise, some current, excellent in-print references will also likely go out-of-print in time.  In either case, these out-of-print classics are often difficult to find and are expensive.  Therefore, Mylar covers are excellent choices for protecting your investment.


Additionally, in most cases, our books will long outlive us.  Thus protecting these classic work’s dust jackets is one way to ensure that these classics are in good condition when they are passed on to future hands.


Lastly, in my opinion, a book just simply looks good when it's protected with a Mylar cover!


Before I go on further, I want to mention here that it’s also a very good idea to document someplace in your personal papers which books of yours are valuable.  Why?  It’s so that your next-of-kin can know the value of your collection and hopefully not give your references away or sell them for a song because they think these obscure books aren’t worth much (for example, if you have Sim Comfort’s edition of Steel’s Naval Architecture…do you really want it going onto eBay for $1.00?). 


Back to Mylar covers:  these are relatively inexpensive.  Although you can buy specific cover sizes to fit your books, it’s much more economical to buy Mylar covering by the roll (Amazon).  I also suggest you get a large size because you can always fold larger sizes down to fit smaller dust jackets.  While they’re not essential, I also recommend purchasing a “bone knife” (Amazon).  These are used for creasing a cover’s folds and make that task much easier.  The knife doesn’t actually have to be made from bone—it just has to be able to slide easily along a cover and create a good, sharp fold or make a new fold if you’ve made an error with sizing the cover over a dust jacket.


As you can see in the photos I’ve included, putting Mylar covers over dust jackets is straightforward if you’ve never used them before.  However, there is one caveat.  Jackets often will tend to move away from the bottom of a cover at the cover’s outer right and left ends. 


To deal with this, fold over, but don’t yet crease down the fold, at either a cover's right or left side.  Then push the jacket back down to seat it at the bottom of the cover on that side (lift the bottom cover edge up on that side to make sure the jacket is seated) and then make about a 2” (~5cm) crease with a bone knife along the temporary fold you've made on that side of the cover.  Then weight down that side of the cover with a book to hold the dust jacket and partially creased cover in place.  Then seat the dust jacket on the other side.  You can now crease the entire edge of the fold.  If you didn’t quite get it right, just redo it—with a bone knife, re-doing creases is generally easy and the new creases will generally come out well.


Note:  When covering dust jackets, it's usually done with the cover facing down and in between the Mylar and the archival paper like you see in the 3rd photo below.




You can see here how the right and left edges of a dust jacket tend to not seat against the bottom of a cover:




Here's what a bone knife looks like:




The dust jacket is now fully seated in the cover:




The finished cover:







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Thanks Jay,


A good reminder to all of us, I guess I've a few thousand invested on the book shelves when I sit back and think on it, and it is an investment worth protecting.  Also a good idea on letting the other half know of that investment sat on those shelves (just in case), trouble is I dont know how she will take to me sharing that value - I'm sure she doesnt know the half of what I've spent!over the years!



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Thanks, Gary! Was thinking about admirals and what they may know or may not know about one's book spending when I wrote that paragraph...harmony and full disclosure don't always go hand-in-hand...:P Maybe put full disclosure down on paper somewhere safe and just occasionally drop mention that your books will be worth a bit in the future! :)



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