Protecting Valuable Books, Cover to Cover

Sometimes a book is more than just a book. Sometimes it’s a rare and valuable collectible.

If you have a collectible book—or several—in your possession, you should care for and treat it like you would any valuable. In short, keep it safe, keep a record of it, keep its value up to date and keep it adequately insured.

Consider climate controls

To preserve the quality of your collectible books, consider installing climate controls in your home or library. Extreme temperature fluctuations and too much humidity can damage books, so be sure to store them away from air vents and in a stable environment.

Store them away from direct light

Too much light—natural or manmade—can cause the cover and print to fade, which can greatly affect value.

Keep them to themselves

Rare books should not be handled frequently and should not be stored on a bookshelf with your other, non-collectible books, as they may be mistakenly removed. If possible, store the most fragile and valuable books in hermetically sealed cases or glass front cabinets, and protect individual books with acid free covers.

Maintain an inventory

Rare books should be carefully inventoried. Note the author, title, edition, condition and any other pertinent information about the book. Take digital photos of the book and store back-up copies of the inventory along with invoices, appraisals or other provenance documentation.

Appraise them regularly

Just like fine art and other collectibles, rare books should be appraised regularly. A good rule is to have new appraisals done every three to five years. This may be important if you have an insurable loss.

Consider valuables insurance

Finally, don’t assume your homeowners policy will provide sufficient coverage for a loss. Insure your rare books with a valuable articles policy that is structured to provide the best coverage for your fine art and collectibles.