How to Protect Your Books When Travelling

How to Register a Copyright

Registering your copyright is simple. Fortunately, have two registration choices:

  • Electronic registration, called “eCo” on the U.S. Copyright Office website
  • Mail/print registration

The registration process involves filling out and submitting your application for copyright, paying a fee, and sending in a copy of the work being copyrighted. In this case, because you’re copyrighting a book, that would be a copy of your book.


How to Try to Preserve Papers and Photographs that are on Display

Occasional display of images and documents is recommended over constant display.

1. Glazing for Photos or Documents

Depending on your documents surface, use acrylic or glass. Acrylic can produce static electricity. This means that acrylic should not be used on certain media that is powdery. Both florescent and UV light harms documents and photos. Use a glaze that has UV filtering.

2. Framing and Matting for Photos or Documents

Use products (mat boards, spacers, glass, acrylic) that are not harmful to documents and photos. They should be 100% acid-free. Choose materials that are certified by the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). Spacers should be used to lift the glass and acrylic away from the surface of the document or photo.

3. Keeping Light Exposure to a Minimum for Photos or Documents

If possible, do not display the document or photo constantly. Rotate it in and out of display to avoid constant exposure. Avoid harmful lights. Daylight and florescent lights are more harmful that visible light due to their high UV rays. Choose glass or acrylic that has a UV filter. If they are not needed, turn off lights. If doable, close blinds over windows.

The above image shows a document protected from light by glass that is UV coated.  Special thanks to Archival Methods for the use of their image

III. Wood Pulp Papers

Wood pulp paper is a soft paper mainly made of wood pulp that has been ground. A natural component of wood pulp is lignin. Lignin is acidic. With chemicals, lignin can be removed during the process of milling.

Newspapers, Newsletters, Flyers, Pamphlets, and Some Paperback Books

Wood pulp paper is off-white in color and has been widely used since the 1860s. Wood pulp paper has historically been used for printing newspapers however, in present-day, most newspapers are printed on paper made from recycled fibers. Prior to the 1860s, newspapers (and other pamphlets or publications that were not meant to last) were printed on paper constructed from the fibers of hemp, cotton, or straw.

When wood-based paper started being mass manufactured (with a machine) it helped make books and frequent newspaper prints achievable and reasonably priced.

The above image is a diagram of the different sections of a machine that makes paper.  Image provided by Egmason – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https:///w/index.php?curid=10482160

The mass manufacturing process however, did not include getting rid of the lignin from the wood pulp. Since lignin is acidic, this mean that paper made of this low-quality wood pulp would be susceptible to oxidation and quick deterioration. Oxidation causes paper to become weak and yellow.

Wood pulp paper can be of a higher or lower quality. Lower quality wood pulp paper is what newspaper or pamphlets are printed on. Higher quality, sturdier wood pulp paper is usually used when producing large runs of paperback books.

Wood pulp paper used for newspapers is sometimes tinted to look light blue, light pink, or light yellow.

Wood Pulp Paper Degradation

Wood pulp contains lignin. Lignin is acidic and can lead to paper turning yellow and brittle. If the acidic paper is exposed to heat or UV light then the paper will deteriorate more quickly. If the wood pulp paper degrades to a certain point it can be so brittle that the paper will fall apart when touched. If the paper has been folded, the crease line will usually fall apart more effortlessly. 

Wood Pulp Paper Deterioration Rate

The high concentrations of acid in most wood pulp papers make the wood pulp paper quickly degrade.

Wood Pulp Paper Storage

An ideal storage situation may slow deterioration but it will not stop it.  Ground wood pulp paper will unavoidable degrade due to its acidic concentration.

Wood Pulp Paper Reformatting Documents

To ensure the long-term preservation of the information in documents that were printed on wood pulp paper, reformatting is highly recommended. To save documents that are on wood pulp paper one can make a photocopy to preserve. The photocopy should be made on permanent paper. Other options are to microfilm the document or create a digital preservation copy.

“How to Preserve a Newspaper Clipping”  A video on how to preserve and store newspaper clippings.  Thank you to How Cast for use of their video.

What are the Criteria for Copyrighting a Nonfiction Book?

In order to copyright your nonfiction book:

  • You must be the author of an original work.
  • The original work must be contained in a tangible medium of expression.

Note: Copyright protection in the U.S. covers the life of the author plus 70 years but there are some exceptions for works made for hire, so you may want to consult with the U.S. Copyright Office at for full details).

Line the Box for Fragile First Editions

Books of great value, such as old photo albums or first editions require stiff cardboard in between each to keep the spines straight and to prevent any movement. Each book should also be protected with paper and placed in a well-padded box. Bubble wrap or foam chips can be used to line the box before you pack each book. ​To save money and have a greener move, use materials you have around the house, such as towels and linens to keep your books safe.



We're a quirky group of writers dedicating our timWe’re a quirky group of writers dedicating our time to unveiling all the tricks of the trade in the land of ebooks and publishing. 

Canvased book covers

You can also purchase zipped canvas book covers. These are mainly popular for Bibles, but if they’re accessible to you then it’s something to consider if the plastic books aren’t efficient enough for you and you need a more durable solution. They can be difficult to find in some market places, but Etsy seems to have lots to choose from, and here’s a standard one I found on Barnes & Nobel.

This solution can also double as eReader protection if you want to bring your eBook device with you. They’re great for Kindles.

Check any New Books that Come Into the House

If you’ve purchased new books, papers, or something paper-based, check it thoroughly for signs of silverfish damage. If there are signs of silverfish damage, keep them away from your other books until you’ve cleaned them completely. Here is how you can take care of that:

Clean the books with vinegar

For moldy or damp books, soak a cloth in water with a slight bit of vinegar added to the mix. Clean the pages and the binding of the book with this cloth and let it dry under the sun for around 30 minutes. Bring the book/s indoor and once they’re completely dry, store them on your bookshelf.

Freeze the books

For books that show holes or silverfish remnants, you’ll need to be a bit more extreme. Place the book in a plastic bag and freeze it for 24 hours. This will kill any silverfish or silverfish eggs that may be hiding among the pages.

Once you remove the book from the freezer, clean it with the vinegar cloth, remove any dust and place it on your bookshelf.

Use Packing Paper or Bubble Wrap to Fill Spaces

Finally, use bubble wrap or wadded-up paper to fill any remaining spaces. Books can shift easily during the move, causing damage.


Who uses what?

Most websites who also sell ebooks will normally produce their own ereaders too. The way it then works out is that customers who buy ereaders from them are then obligated to buy their ebooks from the same website as well. From the authors’ side, all he/she needs to do is submit the manuscript to the website, where the relevant DRM will be applied programmatically. The author does not need to do anything himself. Here’s a low-down on who uses what type of DRM and how they work.


Choose a reliable express company, a good express company is the guarantee of transport safety. If your goods are valuable, you’d better buy transportation insurance.

A T-shirt or cloth

Another solution that won’t hurt your wallet is to simply wrap your book in a thin item of clothing (like a T-shirt), or any similar type of cloth you have to spare. It’s not a fancy solution but if you’re back doesn’t have compartments or much space to protect your precious books; this is the perfect hack to keep it safe.

How Much Does It Cost to Copyright a Book?

At the time of this article, the following are the fees required for each type of registration:

  • Electronic registration, single application (one work by one author): $45
  • Electronic registration, standard application: $65
  • Paper registration, Form TX: $125

Note, however, that the filing fees are subject to change; you can check the appropriate fees here.

Registering your copyright with the US Copyright Office is a quick and easy process. Registration can all be done online, or, if you prefer, you can mail in a print copy of your copyright application instead.


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