Old Hastings labels are the enemy, and Googone is my friend

If you’re going to sell a lot of books–especially in Fine condition, as are many of mine–you want to be able to list as few defects as possible.  If you are a brick and mortar bookstore, you want to make it as annoying as you can to remove your price tags.

These interests conflict in many little puddles of Googone.

If you’ve never used it, Googone is an orange-smelling solvent that dissolves the gumming on labels.  It’s not harmful on your fingers, though I sure wouldn’t drink it, huff it like some kids do with airplane glue, or use it as a personal lubricant.  It is volatile, meaning that its will evaporate without a trace.

So what I do is this:  lay out a row of books, offending stickers up.  Drip Googone onto each sticker one drop at a time, being sure to soak it completely.  Some will often run down the spine or into the pages; don’t worry about that, as it won’t deform them like water would.  It works best on matte tags stuck to glossy dust jackets and covers, and worst/messiest on glossy tags adhering to matte dust jackets (they soak up the Googone and you must keep wetting the sticker down).  Let sit for about four minutes.

Start peeling up stickers, with great care.  In the best cases (B&N 30% discount stickers), a single peel, a wipe, a couple hours set out to dry fully, and you are done.  In the worst cases (small segmented Half Price Books tags, fossilized tags from the 1980s, and Hastings tags), you have to keep it soaked until the gum or fossilized gum finally starts to dissolve.  You could just keep doing that until it all dissolves, but that takes longer.

Once you have the paper up, you want to remove any gum residue.  If you were patient, or mopped behind the label with a Googone-wet finger, it’s moist and will wipe up.  If you were not, moisten it, give it a moment and then wipe.  Keep wiping with fresh Googone until all you can see is a light sheen of the stuff and all gumming is gone, clean up around the edges where it ran down, and set out to dry.

The biggest annoyance is the mess, that and the spreading stains which your instincts tell you have just made the book several times worse than if you’d left the tag in peace.  It evaporates (though I wouldn’t use any more than I needed).  Oh, and one more:  if your computer keys are marked with sticky labels rather than inset labels, you will very much wish to do a good job of washing your hands before you sit down at your machine.  I made that mistake once, and it’s a good thing I can remember which is N and which is M.


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