I like to keep my books in excellent shape. I abhor seeing cracked spines or worn edges. Seeing my step-daughter dog ear one of her books almost causes me physical pain.
As I've delved into the realm of indie games, I've taken the time to protect my books. (This compulsion started earlier as I sought to better protect my Rolemaster books). Below are the steps I take to protect the covers of my geeky treasures.
Step 1: Gather your supplies: A clean surface area, your book, an ink pen, scissors, and a roll of clear matte contact paper. I prefer matte to crystal as matte is more forgiving (i.e. less prone to unsightly hard creases).
Step 2: The old adage applies. Measure twice, cut once. Lay the book on the contact paper giving about a 1 inch on the top, bottom and side. I highly recommend gently brushing the surface of your book. Nothing sucks worse than to entomb a potato chip crumb in your book.
Step 3: A packaging trick. Roll the book along its spine to insure you account for enough material to cover the spine.
Step 4: Mark the max width, giving yourself an extra inch or so.
Step 5: Cut the contact paper. I'd imagine you could use a knife and straight-edge for a truly straight cut. But the quality of the cut doesn't matter too much.
Step 6: Peel away the contact paper. You'll want to peel to just shy of the half-way point, depending on the thickness of the book. I like to make sure that the non-adhesive covering paper creates a line that is roughly perpendicular to the edge of the contact paper (though I don't go so far as to break out the compass and protractor).
Step 7: Carefully lower the book to make contact with the paper, ideally having the spine make first contact and slowly working towards the outer edge of the book. You'll want to ensure that the book's top and bottom is being place roughly paralel to the edges of the contact paper. (I actually find doing this on a gaming mat with a square grid is easiest, just make sure the gaming mat is cleaned).
Step 8: Gently apply pressure along the spine to make sure that it has the best seal. Then gently apply pressure with your hands working away from the spine towards the edge of the book.
Step 9: Now apply more direct pressure to the contact paper with a hard surface working away from the spine towards the edge of the book.
Step 10: Clip the contact paper at about 3/4” from the spine. The closer to the spine the better it is for protecting the book, but the harder Step 12 can be. (Remember, you can always clip more, but never unclip).
Step 11: Clip the corners of the adhesive paper. I typically will not cut a square, instead preferring to leave a less than 90 degree angle of contact paper. If I leave to much it makes Step 12 a little ugly.
Step 12: Now fold the contact paper inward. I prefer to fold the tops and bottoms first, as it makes sure that the other flap is anchored down and doesn't accidentally catch a page that is opening and come undone.
Step 13: Carefully flip the book along the spine. As I'm flipping the book, I'm gently pushing the adhesive part of the contact paper away from me, and gently pulling the non-adhesive part away. This ensures that the spine has a reasonably good seal.
Step 14: As I'm flipping I gently lower the book onto the adhesive paper, working from spine outward.
Step 15: Repeat step 9, gently working the flat edge from spine to end.
Step 16: Again clip the corners as in Steps 10 and 11, and fold the adhesive flaps under as in Step 12.
Step 17: Then cut off the excess contact paper that is near the spine. I usually use my trusty swiss army knife, but I didn't think to include that in my initial list of items.
Step 18 (Optional): Put your Mark. My wife bought be a book stamp for putting my embossed mark on it. (Thank you Jenny)
Step 19: You are done. Show off your work.
If you see me at GenCon, ask me to show you some of my results. I'll most definitely have Fiasco and Hollowpoint on hand, and possibly others.
Special thanks to my lovely wife for taking these wonderful pictures.