"What's the best way to care for my first editions and signed first edition books? I don't particularly want to put them in boxes and store them on a pallet in a climate controlled storage facility, but at the same time I want to minimize fading, bumping and dust that settles into the edges of the pages. (Andy, VA)
I assume you are one of those people who buys a signed first edition for their collection and then picks up a reading copy at Costco, or better yet, waits for a paperback to show up at the Goodwill. No insult intended - I'm one of those people. For (non-antiquarian) collectible books I recommend:
1. Jackets should be covered in acid-free book jacket covers.
2. Books should stand up-right on a book shelf, so as not to create a slant of the spine.
3. Books should be kept out of direct sunlight, where air can circulate freely.
4. Store them away from windows and don't put them on shelves against outside walls.
5. Store them on flat, smooth shelves that are strong enough to support their weight.
6. Books should not be in contact with unsealed wood because it can release damaging acidic vapors. Line shelves with acid free boards if necessary to prevent this problem.
7. Use bookends to keep the books from falling over, and be sure they are high enough to support the books completely.
8. Avoid storing books in an attic or basement because attics get too hot and basements get too damp. Both are also subject to rapid changes in temperature and humidity levels. Keep books out from under plumbing and water pipes; water damage from these sources is all too common.
9. You can also consider custom-fitted archival boxes made from high-quality materials.
Ask John at: firstname.lastname@example.org