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Old 09-11-2010, 05:29 AM   #1
Iain
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Unhappy Coping with old books

I've embarked on an ambitious project to convert all my surviving paperbacks to ePub format. That's about 5000 of them.

My current roadblock is not the technology (done!) or the time (minimised!), but the books themselves.

Most have spent half their (sometimes long) lives in garages or cellars with the result that they are what my Mum would call 'foosty'. They smell old and furthermore, particularly to one with asthma/hay fever they are having a detrimental affect on my breathing and eyes and skin.



Even my wife, with no such ailments, is complaining (bitterly!) about the noxious reek.

So. Has anyone experiences of this? Is there anyway of treating the books (in bulk) to reduce this problem?

Any advice most welcome!

Iain
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Old 09-11-2010, 09:37 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Iain View Post
I've embarked on an ambitious project to convert all my surviving paperbacks to ePub format. That's about 5000 of them.

My current roadblock is not the technology (done!) or the time (minimised!), but the books themselves.

Most have spent half their (sometimes long) lives in garages or cellars with the result that they are what my Mum would call 'foosty'. They smell old and furthermore, particularly to one with asthma/hay fever they are having a detrimental affect on my breathing and eyes and skin.



Even my wife, with no such ailments, is complaining (bitterly!) about the noxious reek.

So. Has anyone experiences of this? Is there anyway of treating the books (in bulk) to reduce this problem?

Any advice most welcome!

Iain
What is the possibility of moving your scanning operation out to your garage? If you could cut the books apart and scan them out there, that would at least keep the stench out of the house and hopefully restore peace to the household. I'm lucky; I live alone and my books are in better shape than yours. Living in a dry desert hasn't hurt any.

I don't know of any way to actually treat the books so the only option I can think of would be to keep the dust, etc. away from you with protective clothing. As I've already mentioned to you, there are a variety of disposable and nondisposable half face dust masks available that will help with the breathing issue. Full face masks will also protect your eyes and face. Or you could wear chemical goggles with a half face mask. Long rubber or synthetic rubber gloves that go well up your arms should protect your skin. A long shop apron will keep the worst of the dust off your clothes. If that isn't enough, you could don a pair of coveralls and tape the sleeves to the gloves (we used to do this when I worked with haz waste). Just be careful taking them on and off so you minimize skin contact with any dust on them or the gloves. While you would have to arrange to keep loose pages corralled, a fan blowing behind you toward your scanning operation will also minimize the amount of dust that gets to you.

Good luck!
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Old 09-11-2010, 11:52 AM   #3
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So. Has anyone experiences of this? Is there anyway of treating the books (in bulk) to reduce this problem?
The smell and allergic reactionss are caused by the moisture the books have absorbed and the subsequent mould that is forimg.

You need to remove the moisture.

You can use something to absorb the moisture - baking soda, charcoal, cat litter. Use a large airtight container and put the books and absorbent inside. Make sure they don't have any direct contact with each other. Seal the container and wait a few days (or weeks).

Alternatively, you could try forcibly drying the books by putting them in an oven at low heat. Unfortunately this would probably permeate the smell around the kitchen and house and further irritate your wife, so I suggest you get one of the mini fridge/warmers that are available and and dry the books in your garage.
Example - http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Produc...t%3EFRIDGE.htm - That's about the smallest you can get and hold six regular drinks cans. Larger ones are available.
Mini-fridge/warmers usually have a max temperature of ~65C so your bopoks shouldn't reach their flash point and burst into flames.
Combine with a timeswitch for unattended or overnight drying.
I'm not sure 'baking' your books would work, but people have been known to dry clothes using an oven so I don't see why it shouldn't work.
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Old 09-11-2010, 01:27 PM   #4
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Probably would need to make sure you didn't leave them in too long or at too high a heat though. As Ray Bradbury found out paper ignites at 451 farenheit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomsk View Post
The smell and allergic reactionss are caused by the moisture the books have absorbed and the subsequent mould that is forimg.

You need to remove the moisture.

You can use something to absorb the moisture - baking soda, charcoal, cat litter. Use a large airtight container and put the books and absorbent inside. Make sure they don't have any direct contact with each other. Seal the container and wait a few days (or weeks).

Alternatively, you could try forcibly drying the books by putting them in an oven at low heat. Unfortunately this would probably permeate the smell around the kitchen and house and further irritate your wife, so I suggest you get one of the mini fridge/warmers that are available and and dry the books in your garage.
Example - http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Produc...t%3EFRIDGE.htm - That's about the smallest you can get and hold six regular drinks cans. Larger ones are available.
Mini-fridge/warmers usually have a max temperature of ~65C so your bopoks shouldn't reach their flash point and burst into flames.
Combine with a timeswitch for unattended or overnight drying.
I'm not sure 'baking' your books would work, but people have been known to dry clothes using an oven so I don't see why it shouldn't work.
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Old 09-16-2010, 05:04 AM   #5
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Thanks for all your ideas!

What I've come up with is this.

Next to my office I have a small room in which my computers and my more favoured books live (mainly those books which I've bought in the last 10 years). This gets quite warm (computers) and has a fan to extract to the outside. So

I get a box of books from the garage (I should really do this with a mask and googles, but I'll stop short of a full on radiation suit!).
I get the books out and spread them untidily onto a table near the fan (and the computers). Unitdily to ensure there is air space between them as much as possible. I'm also bringing a second box in to sit there opened to warm up - this will then move to the airing phase when the airing books move on.

The airing box is re-boxed into a plastic crate and brought into my office. As and when time allows I drag out 10 books or so, guillotine them and put the de-spined books in yet another plastic crate.

Again as time allows, I take one despined book at a time out, put it through my scanner, and put it in a third box to wait for disposal.

I'd actually like to make a hood for the scanner with an extractor to my new airing cupboard, but things are a bit tender on the domestic front with regard to this project at the moment, so that will have to wait for more comfortable times!

I've only just started this approach up so I'm not sure how well it's going to work. It certainly doesn't entirely eliminate the issue, but it is much improved!

Iain
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:42 AM   #6
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Simple solutions work well.

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I get the books out and spread them untidily onto a table near the fan (and the computers). Unitdily to ensure there is air space between them as much as possible.
I would suggest hanging the books, spine upwards and horizontal, as the books would naturally open up exposing more pages.
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Old 09-17-2010, 03:46 AM   #7
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That's a good idea, but I'm not sure it's practical for me. I've limited space and equally limited patience! I'm trying to process around 100 books (1 box) at a time, and I don't really have anywhere to hang that many books.

I fact, my current observation is that just being out of the garage and in the fresh air for a day or so removes the worst of the smell. I'll let you know how well this works ou!

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Old 09-17-2010, 11:29 AM   #8
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That's a good idea, but I'm not sure it's practical for me. I've limited space and equally limited patience! I'm trying to process around 100 books (1 box) at a time, and I don't really have anywhere to hang that many books.

I fact, my current observation is that just being out of the garage and in the fresh air for a day or so removes the worst of the smell. I'll let you know how well this works ou!

Iain
100 books in a box? Dang! Either they are small books or the boxes are back breakers! My books average 40 per box and that's plenty heavy! Besides just not having room anymore to store them, I'm just too old to be lugging them around.
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Old 09-21-2010, 05:39 AM   #9
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Actually, I've just unpacked a box and it had exactly 120 books in. They're not terribly big or terribly heavy boxes, but of course all my stuff is paperbacks and much is old - for some reason the newer the book the more pages it has. I suspect the authors get no more though

And one issue with my approach is that it takes me an age to move the airing books to get to my server when it crashes. Guess what?


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Old 09-21-2010, 06:46 AM   #10
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The boxes I'm using are 15 1/2" L x 12 1/2" W X 10 1/2" H and are essentially double wall construction. I salvaged them from a previous job before they wound up in the crusher (I stayed after work and emptied the boxes of records into the crusher on my own time in exchange for the emptied boxes; otherwise, they would have gone into the crusher box and all). I can stack them, even when heavy with books, seven high without crushing and, since they are uniformly sized, I can pack a lot of them into a small space. When not in use, a quick pull on the inner liner collapses the box flat for easy storage (the lid also unfolds flat) and a quick push on the inner liner will "refold" the box without the need to tape any bottom flaps. When they are full of books (an average of 40, depending on if they are paperbacks or hardbacks), they are as heavy as I care to lift (roughly 30-40 lb), especially to and from the top of a seven box stack.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:12 AM   #11
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And one issue with my approach is that it takes me an age to move the airing books to get to my server when it crashes. Guess what?


Iain
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