Yellow Shmellow

The other day I was moving books around in my bookshelf to try to make room for the ones scattered around my room. I decided to put in a box the ones that I don’t plan to keep (I may give them away to friends or here on the blog) so I can add the keepers inside the bookshelf. I noticed that I have several books that are turning yellow and several that have spots. I know I already posted about this a few months back and I did say that age brings more character to books but I can’t help but be bothered again! Some of the books that have yellow spots were ones that I bought only a few years ago, like in 2007 or 2008.

I keep my books inside a bookshelf with a glass panel and in a huge plastic box with a cover (the box is big, I can fit inside it) and I put a closet dehumidifier in each. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing though because I Googled a bit and I found somewhere that yellow spots are caused by molds and they tend to multiply in still air, so now I wonder if it’s better to have an open bookshelf? Help! I guess the purpose of this post is to ask you guys your own experiences in keeping books and whether you have advice for me. If not, then it’s probably something that I have to accept as part of living in a very humid, tropical country.

I can’t help but remember my copy of The Changeover, which I got from Better World Books. It’s an old library hardcover and it’s older than I am because the book was published in 1984 but the condition of the book is still pretty good. No yellowing or anything like that. I assume it’s because it was kept in an air-conditioned area for most of its lifetime. Poor book, now destined to suffer the heat and humidity here with me.

So, thoughts? Ideas? Feel free to comment.

16 thoughts on “Yellow Shmellow

  1. Hey Chachic! I just remembered some tips I got before from my FA Comic Book class! It’s on my Livejournal ( for the complete list. It’s a bit hardcore (for really preserving comic books) but the basic concepts may be applicable for you.

    I got these a lot too (the yellowing, I can handle, but the spots are just… atrocious). The spots and deterioration is called foxing. Just don’t forget to “air” them out to prevent mold/mildew. And don’t try to sniff those spots… the bacteria/fungi can get into your system! (I might just be paranoid/hypochondriac, but I seem to remember reading about someone that experienced that).

    Don’t forget to check for critters like bookworms and silverfish, along with the larger pests. And termites, if your shelf is wooden! My shelf is made of steel (stainless, I think, but I have to check), with steel-framed glass panels as well, so that’s one less problem. Dust still gets in A LOT though.

    (Which reminds me, I need to inspect my stuff soon, and air them out.)

    • I wonder why we never talked about this before? I’m going to check out your old LJ entry later.

      Yeah, the yellowing is okay if it’s pretty even. I can accept that it’s part of the aging process of the book but the spots look weird. Oh so I really need to air them out from time to time? I should do that soon! I haven’t aired out some of my books since I got my bookshelf a couple of years back. LOL no worries, I don’t plan to inhale the spots!

      Did you buy your shelf or had it made? I want to have a bigger shelf made that will span one wall of my room and I was thinking of a wooden shelf because all of the other shelves in the house are made of wood. We had problems with termites early this year, I think, but it has been treated already and none of my books were damaged. Although a couple photo albums were not so fortunate. 😦

      • It was bought, if I’m not mistaken. One of those furniture surplus stores, I think? Haha my parents were the ones who bought it a couple of years ago when renovating the rooms.

        I think shelves made of narra are termite proof, but they will probably be really expensive.

        Ugh, I think we might have problems with termites again, I saw what I think was a termite around. Not near my room/shelf, thankfully.

      • BJ had mentioned some of his tips before!

        Hmm. Bj, two of my bookshelves are made of narra – I think.

        @Chachic – I bought dehumidifier today! I got OC last Sunday when I was arranging my books. Haha 🙂

      • BJ, how big is your shelf? It’s so hard to look for nice, sturdy, shelves nowadays! You have to have them made if you want something nice. I wasn’t that crazy about books when we first moved to our current house so I didn’t think to request for built-in shelves. *head desk* I should’ve thought of it before!

        Evert, I need to buy new dehumidifiers! Mine are almost full. I haven’t checked the one in the plastic box but the one in my closet and in my bookshelf already have water in them.

  2. Hi Chachic!

    If you have any books that are getting really noticably damp and moldy, you can always microwave them…that also kills critters.

    You could try getting some packets of silica gel, and sticking them in the bookshelves–that sucks up moisture.

    • Ooooh microwave them! I never thought of doing that. That’s a pretty nifty idea, Charlotte. Thanks for letting me know about it.

      My friend mentioned the silica packets but since I already have a closet dehumidifier that will take care of the moisture. I just need to air out the books from time to time.

  3. This is my problem too! I’m hoping the dehumidifiers can help to slow down the yellowing. Although I don’t mind the yellowing that much…it’s the foxing that I hate.:(

    • Me too, the yellowing is okay but not the foxing! The spots make books look weird. I don’t know if the dehumidifiers are helping but I think they are because they absorb moisture in the bookshelf. Speaking of which, I need to change my dehumidifiers!

  4. I don’t have that problem. I have my books on a shelf behind closed wooden doors… no humidifier. They just get dusty. Could it be the humidifier causing moisture which may attract mold? Might just need to get rid of the humidifier.

    • Hi Ashley, I have this problem because I live in a tropical country where it’s very humid and my room isn’t air-conditioned all the time. I need the dehumidifiers to keep out the moisture in books. You probably don’t have this problem because you live in a dry climate.

  5. Pingback: Shoot That Book: Foxing | Chachic's Book Nook

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