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Spending Time with Tape

So a while back I eavesdropped on a Twitter conversation about preparing books to become part of a classroom library. Discussion of sheets of laminating paper, contact paper, & hours of meticulous trimming and de-bubbling ensued. We teachers are a dominantly perfectionist group. I, of course, butted in & offered some advice. Then another friend suggested I blog about it to share with more than those two Twitter-friends.

“What’s the secret?!” I hear you cry.

It’s clear packing tape. I prefer 2″ Scotch brand or Duck Brand clear packing tape. If you buy off brand, it’s usually too flimsy. It folds in on itself easily and really isn’t thick enough to provide good protection. I also have a large dispenser for ease of handling the tape but it’s not necessary.

Using packing tape is cheaper than using sheets of laminate. And really, it’s the corners and the spine of the book that need protecting. Rarely does the center of the cover or the top & bottom edges get a ton of wear or damage. With just three strips of heavy duty, clear packing tape you can keep your paperbacks protected just as well as using an entire laminate covering.

Here’s how I do it.
Step 1: Pull off a strip of tape that is about a 1/2 inch longer than the cover on each side. Place this strip along the edge of the cover with 1/2 hanging over the side.

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Step 2: Tuck in the ends of the tape at the top and bottom of the cover.

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Step 3: Fold the edge of the tape over the side of the cover, securing it to the inside of the cover. This will hold the folded tabs from the top and bottom of the cover in place.

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Now your front cover is protected.

Step 4: Follow the same steps for covering the back cover’s edge.

Step 5: All that’s left to do is cover the spine. Try to pull off a strip of tape that’s the same length as the book. Leave it a little short or trim it with scissors if it’s too long. Try to center the tape over the spine so that the entire spine and the edges of the spine are covered. For really thick paperbacks, like Harry Potter books, you may need to use two pieces of tape.

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That’s it! Simple, quick, and inexpensive. I’ve had heavily used paperbacks that have lasted for five years or more versus books that didn’t get taped. It’s easy to teach students and parents to do, too.

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