I like to carry paperback books with me in a backpack. I've noticed that this puts a lot of wear and tear on these books. I can't not carry these books in my backpack, but what can I do to better protect them?
I also travel a lot with paperback books in a bag, and I've managed not to damage them too much by considering the problem as a geometrical/physical one, analysing the shapes and forces involved.
A paperback book is essentially a cuboid, with two faces that can peel away from the rest and keep peeling away in pages until you reach the middle:
As long as you can keep it in that cuboid shape, you're all good. What really damages a paperback book is when the covers or pages start opening inside your bag and then getting bent or folded unnaturally against things. If you can keep the book safely closed, it's much harder to damage.
So, make sure to pack your bag so that there are no forces tending to push the book open. Ideally, go the other way and make sure there are forces tending to press the book closed.
- If you have a thin flat space inside your bag (e.g. a compartment for a laptop, and you don't have a laptop with you), putting a book inside there might be able to keep it pressed closed.
- If you have more than one book with you, lay them flat against each other so that each one can hold the next one closed. (This doesn't help for the outermost covers of the stack, but at least it's a part of the problem solved.)
- Try not to have anything pressing against the 'page edge' of the book, the edge opposite the spine. Too much pressure there will splay the pages apart and possibly fold them unhealthily.
There are going to be many different ways of achieving the desired effect, depending on factors such as the size and shape of your bag, of the books, and exactly what else you're carrying in the same bag. But by keeping the above bold principles in mind, you should be able to minimise the damage to your paperback books while carrying them around.
Friction acts on the book regardless of whether it's fixed or not. If a bag doesn't have a special compartment for books of laptops, it may be beneficial to acquire a book cover. It can be plastic, paper, or even textile, depending only on one's choice
Plastic covers (also called wraps) seem to be available online (e.g. I took the picture above from here). One could fashion a custom book cover from plastic (here's a tutorial), or from paper (which is easier). The advantage here is customisable size.
A cover offers some advantages for book protection:
It is functional even outside the bag
It can be customised to be water-proof and grease-proof (depending on material)
Also protects the corners of the book (if one does it right)
Can be made as fashionable as one likes (also obscures the title of the book)
Some tutorials on the subject:
I use a tupperware/kliklock container, but I if I am short of space, putting the book in with a laptop in its case keeps it flat (not instead of a laotop). Also if you put a clipboard into the back pack it forms a rigid and flat central divider that is not deformed when you strap it to your back which is the main issue.
Covering a book with a flexible plastic cover in a back pack won't protect the text block or spine, it is the bending that is the problem, you want to stop it flexing.
I only do this for other people's books or library books, my own books I like to drop in the bath and dry out on the radiator because I can, because they aren't kindles.
Part of me takes a not altogether perverse pride in the battered appearance of many of my books; but when I want to protect one from battery in my bookbag, I favor an appropriately sized mailing envelope lined with bubble wrap, available at office supply stores and sometimes even supermarkets in my country (USA).
There are several things you can do to protect paperback books while carrying them around in a backpack.
- If you want to prevent books from getting bent or warped, you can carry them in the type of rigid cardboard envelope that some online booksellers use when they mail books.
Or you can buy a cardboard envelope that has the appropriate size for the book you want to take with you.
- I have also reused envelopes with bubble wrap padding, but these don't protect you books from bending, unless you put the envelope between other objects that don't bend to easily, e.g. some types of file folders. A backpack's laptop compartment can also work, especially if your laptop is thin and/or if you have the type of backpack that can actually stand (instead of falling over).
- If you just want to protect the book against friction instead of preventing bending, you can wrap it in an extra cover. For pocket books, I normally reuse discarded printouts; it's better for the environment and you can discard the cover afterwards:
For larger books, I have even reused gift wrapping paper, though usually "inside out". I try to avoid plastic covers, even though they have the advantage that you can see the book's original cover through them:
- You can put the book into a neoprene laptop sleeve. However, this is only really useful if you don't need to take your laptop with you or if you have a spare laptop sleeve.
I have never bought premade book covers or wraps (regardless their material). I have many books and I usually carry at least one book in my backpack, so the keyword is reuse!