Monday, November 21, 2011

Household Essential: 3M Book Tape

Photographed to emphasize tape
It's no secret that we love books. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we even love them to pieces.

Before we had kids (okay, even for a while after we had Ranger), I thought we could maintain an organized library of carefully maintained books. I slowly came to realize that, at least for picture books, I could have readers -or- crisp, clean editions, but not both.

Why have books without readers?

I nearly wept the day Ranger ripped a page out of the hardback copy of On the Day You Were Born that I bought him upon request. He loved that book, and although paper kind of grows on trees, changing that paper to books can be an expensive process.

Then Jim reminded me of book tape. At one point, we both worked in an academic library and regularly traversed the catacombs behind the public areas. In one dark corner of cataloging, dedicated bibliophiles maintained and repaired worn and broken volumes. Little red boxes of book tape sat shoulder to shoulder waiting to assist in the ongoing battle against time, entropy, and abuse.

I use book tape to stitch together damaged volumes, but it also works on puzzle pieces and game boxes. Jim even uses it to reinforce the covers of frequently used reference books before damage occurs.

Corner reinforcement by library (interior)
The tape is slightly re-positionable when first applied (unlike clear packaging tape), but bonds firmly once placed. Its thicker and stiffer than packaging tape. The edges may shed a little adhesive, but it rolls off easily (like rubber cement) rather than creating a gummy mess. The tape can be creased easily over the edge of a softback cover or spine. Our local library even adds it to hardback corners to slow cover wear.

Exterior spine & corner reinforcement by library
Even with three young readers, we don't worry about letting our kids handle books.

A roll of book tape costs about $6 for 15 yards of 2" wide tape. That's far less than the replacement value of most books and a downright paltry investment in independence for a young reader. There's even an 8 roll value pack that might prevent the stink eye when someone abducts a roll "for work."

***Baby Toolkit is the periodic chronicle of a couple geeks crawling the dungeons of parenthood. We're Amazon affiliates, so purchases through our links will help us buy more books and book tape and other bits and bobs. Though we may be categorized as 3M enthusiasts, we have no non-imaginary relationship with the company.


h said...

I'm sold! Will make sure to use your affiliate link. :)

Anonymous said...

How does this hold up over time? I've been using something called "archival document repair tape" to avoid the yellowing issues most tapes have, but it's a pain to use; the 3M kind looks easier, if it will last for many years without turning yellow and gross.

Francie said...

Ahhhh, I enjoyed your post! You sure make these fun to read!

Looking fwd to my next chance to pick up a roll of this tape & then to play the role of Mrs. Book Fixit in my home!

Tiffany said...

We are truly kindred spirits. I can't believe you actually wrote a review of book tape, that wonderful treasure I hoard like dragon's treasure. I used to think it was only available to librarians. You know, before internet... when the only place I could find it was at the back of the librarian's bottom desk drawer, while some kid I bribed with a lunch-detention-pardon distracted her with his newly fledged passion for the written word and need for book recommendations. I figure everyone won. You're all welcome.