Modern Binding Materials: Plastic-Covered Bindings

This 1970s hardcover copy of Valley of the Dolls has a thin plastic layer over the paper of the cover. This covering technique was once thought to slow degradation. However, the plastic, probably unstable cellulose acetate, has begun to bubble off the cover and to degrade and become discolored. In addition, the unidentified pink substance inside the spine of the book is degrading and crumbling. The chemical activity of these modern materials can be difficult to predict.

This 1960s Russian softcover has a thick layer of plastic overlaying the paper cover. The plastic is beginning to detach from the paper, and as the plastic, paper and adhesive continue to age they will each shift in shape and size in different ways that may be destructive to the other components. In addition, soft plastics such as this often off-gas and leach plasticizers, which can be destructive to objects nearby.

A close-up of a fraying hardcover book.
Plastic-Covered Bindings: Plastic-Wrapped Hardcover

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. New York: Bantam Books, 1974. Regenstein: PS3537.​U74V2 1974.
Photo by Melina Avery

A close-up of a thin paperback.
Plastic-Covered Bindings: Plastic-Wrapped Paperback

Moscow to Vladivostok: A Guide by Rail. Moskva, Gos. izd-vo geogr. lit-ry, 1962. Regenstein: DK16.M89.
Photo by Melina Avery