Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why we cover books in plastic


If you've been reading my blog for quite some time now, you'd notice how some of us Filipinos love to cover our books in plastic. I know a lot of people who won't even read books (whether they be new or used) unless there's snug plastic covering them. My good friend, Ajie, is one. Her OC level goes through the roof when she talks about books! Just check out this post.

I guess this practice started out when Filipino kids enter school, where they're required to have all their textbooks and notebooks wrapped in plastic. This requirement somehow makes sense. Our textbooks and notebooks come in paperback format, so the plastic made them last longer. I never had a locker back in my grade school and high school days. I had to lug around 12 of those 100-page notebooks and at least 10 textbooks in my bag every day for 10 months.

But why would this practice find its way to the books that we read for pleasure? Is it because of our tropical climate in the Philippines which can be so harsh on books? If anything, the day's heat can actually cause the plastic wrap to shrink over time, thus deforming the book's cover. Also, when you stack plastic-covered books in a bookshelf, they don't slide off as easily as books that aren't covered. So why do we go through all this trouble in the first place?

Then I discovered gauge 8 plastic.

The plastic cover usually sold in bookstores is flimsy and wrinkly. They shrink way too soon. The gauge 8 kind, however, is so thick it may sometimes be difficult to fold. It may cost three times as much as the regular kind, but, trust me, it's definitely worth it. It's not always available in bookstores and supplies stores though. And unlike the thin kind that usually comes in prepared rolls of 1 or 2 meters, you have to ask the store personnel how much plastic you want and they'd cut and roll it up for you.

I know a lot of people who wouldn't start reading their books unless their covered in those transparent plastic sheets. And I'm one of them. Somehow, a book without plastic just feels naked.

21 comments:

PI said...

Thank you Peter for joining me.
I'm thankful that our climate doesn't require that we cover books; if I started now I'd never finish. It's an excellent idea though.
Pat

Peter said...

Hello, Pat! You're very lucky that your books don't turn yellow and wrinkly too soon.

Patrick said...

I don't really know much about plastic covers that's why I've completely shunned the idea of covering my books. And personally, I really like the feeling of paper even in book covers. I will try this gauge 8 thing though.

I do have a few of my books plastic-covered but they were the ones which were borrowed by my friends. I was shocked to see my books covered in plastic when she returned them to me!

Peter said...

Hi Patrick! Well, to each his own. Hehe.

Vivienne said...

We definitely don't do that over here in England. If I started now, I would be here for ever. I can see the logic in it though.

Peter said...

Hi Viviene! You're lucky that the weather in England is kind on your books.

Pam said...

My husband is Filipino and at one point, all the remotes in our house were covered in plastic! He also never removes the plastic covering that comes on clocks, cameras, etc. It has to be me that does it. He hasn't covered books but maybe it's because he doesn't like to read!

Peter said...

Hahaha! In behalf of your husband, Pam, I apologize for that. Yes, aside from books, we've also known to cover other things in plastic such as the remote.

Ryan G said...

I understand why but I'm really glad I don't have to do that over here in the States. For one I would get bored doing it before I was even half way throung. Secondly, I love the way the cover's feel, especially when they have texture to them. Does the plastice change the smell of the book?

Peter S. said...

Hello, Ryan! Yes, in a way, the plastic affects the smell.

Without the plastic, I also love the texture of the covers. Especially those matte ones.

mental wayfarer said...

Hahaha! I was looking for the "like" button when I realized this isn't FB.:P Although I'm not quite sure if, when you referred to my "OC level", you weren't really saying that I'm messed-up crazy...:)

line of flight said...

when i think of covering things in plastic, i think of my lola. if i, on the other hand, wrapped all 1000 books in my library with plastic i'd go insane when i go looking for a quote or something.

Peter S. said...

@mental wayfarer: Hi Ajie! We're all messed-up crazy in our own little way.

@line of flight: Wow! 1,000 books!

Melissa said...

Hi Peter! Thanks for stopping over to my blog - My World. I am reading The Name of the Wind with a few other people over at Barnes & Nobles booksite. I am very much enjoying this book. The writing is just like poetry or music, I just love the way it fits together.

I was interested in this post for plastic on covers. I have not ever covered my paper back books with plastic. I don't live in an area that the moisture would affect them, yet this thought sounds very good. I carry by books in my purse and it would definitly help protect them better from the abuse I try to keep to a minimum.

Peter S. said...

Hi Melissa! Thanks for dropping by too!

stacybuckeye said...

Thanks for this post. Books covered in plastic is a curiousity for us over here in the States.

mitch ramirez said...

sir peter, is gauge 8 a brand or a type?

would love to have that for my books! haha have you read haruki murakami?

NocturnalReader said...

I cover my books with plastics too right after I buy them. I'm now searching if it's a good thing or not. Anyway, I'm a Filipino and it's been a practice passed down to me. And yes, my mom also covers our remotes with plastic covers. Hahaha

Ihsan Ali said...

Really all the books don't need to be covered by plastic. Because these plastics cannot be recycled and this will lead to pollution.

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, a plastic jacket may keep the cover safe and without stains, creases, wear and stickiness. As far as I'm concerned, I cover every single book I start reading with a plastic jacket so they won't get damaged while I'm enjoying it on my daily commuting. When I finish it, I remove the plastic jacket and shelve the book -sometimes there may be moisture which may damage the cover material or even pages, as it happened once with a precious Japanese dictionary I used to have.

Louis said...

Alright! I thought I was one of the few that uses adhesive plastic cover for my books. Some people that knows what I do thinks I am weird! I think they are ignorant! There's nothing wrong with wanting to protect one's books! :D