Book Repair

How To Remove Price Tags and Stickers from Books, Records, and Everything Else with Bestine!

I buy a lot of books from thrift stores.  I truly love the stores that charge a flat fee for their books and do not feel the need to place a color sticker or price tag on every single book.  Other stores tag their books with stickers, leaving me the chore of sticker removal and adhesive cleanup.  Removing stickers used to consume a significant portion of my time.  Thanks to my best friend Bestine, the task is quick and painless.


Bestine Solvent & Thinner 32OZ Can Bestine Solvent & Thinner 32OZ Can
List Price: $16.45
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Originally formulated for the thinning and reducing of rubber cement, Bestine Solvent & Thinner is also ideal for cleaning most surfaces. Bestine cleans up inks, spray adhesive and is an excellent parts cleaner...


  • For thinning and reducing rubber cement
  • Cleans inks and spray adhesives
  • Use to remove decals and labels
  • Safe for all types of surfaces including most plastics
  • 32 oz can

What is Bestine?  Bestine is an organic solvent.  It's gasoline's little sister.  Bestine is made of heptane, which is one carbon and two hydrogen atoms shy of being octane, the chemical you pump into your gas tank to get you to the thrift store.  It has a slight odor, but nothing like gasoline.  Gasoline is a blend of many petrochemicals, several of which give gasoline its immediately identifiable smell.  Heptane (Bestine) has a faint odor that dissipates quickly.  Use Bestine in a well-ventilated area free of any potential ignition sources.

Solvent Safety



This is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Bestine.  Exercise caution when you are using Bestine.  Work safely with small amounts.  I recommend picking up a pair of chemically resistant gloves and an eyedropper to limit your exposure to the solvent.  When I first started using Bestine, I used a shred of paper towel and my bare hands to apply the solvent to the labels.  This worked fine, but I ended up with smelly hands at the end of a long work day and a wad of potentially flammable paper in my garbage can.  I came to my sense and realized that a little Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) would be a good idea.  I use an old paring knife to lift the edge of the sticker and aid in complete removal of the sticker and any remaining adhesive.  You want a tool with a good handle and a blade that is somewhere between dull and sharp.  Too sharp a blade could damage the book, too dull could require more effort.

Dynarex 2523 Nitrile Exam Gloves, Large, Black  (Pack of 100) Dynarex 2523 Nitrile Exam Gloves, Large, Black (Pack of 100)
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  • Contains no allergy causing natural rubber proteins
  • Extraordinary strength and puncture resistance while maintaining tactile sensitivity
  • The ideal solution for individuals sensitive to natural rubber latex and donning powder
  • 1 box contains 100 ambidextrous gloves
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The Sticker Removal Process

Removing price tags with Bestine is quick and easy!  I used to use hair dryers, high pressure elbow grease with a razor blade, rubbing alcohol, and even rubber cement to remove stickers before I found Bestine.  I tried Goo-Gone and a few other adhesive removers, but none did the job as well as Bestine.  It's my go-to, and I remove a lot of stickers, so trust me when I tell you that it will change your life!  I spend about 15 seconds on routine sticker jobs.

1.  Find the offending book.



What's the purpose of that sticker?  A stupid 11 that probably translates into November.  Is that really necessary, thrift store?  No, it's not.  Do you even consider the feelings of the regular customer who wants to buy a book for pleasure?  These stickers are not formulated for easy removal.  These nuisances used to boil my blood until I met Bestine.  This book does not have a very high resale value, but it was in great condition and I can eke out a small profit on it when it sells.  Grist for the mill.

2.  Apply Bestine


It's very difficult to take pictures of the application process without a tripod and a timer, so please use your imagination to make pictures in your mind when I tell you that I dipped my pipette into the solvent reservoir, withdrew a small amount, and expelled an amount small enough to totally cover the price sticker.  Look closely at the tag.  You can see the paper change color as it absorbs the solvent.  You may have noticed my frequent use of the word "solvent."  A solvent dissolves a solute.  Our solute, in the case of price tags, is the adhesive gluing the paper tag to the cover of our book.  As the solvent works its way into the paper tag, it finds the adhesive molecules underneath the tag and renders them useless, imprisoning them in a layer of similarly polarized molecules in the solvent.  The solvent needs to be present in excess to capture all of the solute.  You're bored.  I used to teach Chemistry for a living and I currently work in a research lab.  Forgive the slight nerd-out.  What's next?

3.  Lift the edge of the sticker, then gently scrape at any remaining adhesive residue



Again, difficult to photograph the entire process with only two hands.  Use that imagination like Mr. Rogers taught you.  I lift the edge of the sticker with the paring knife, remove the sticker, and gently scrape at any remaining residue with a light touch.  If a great deal of residue remains, I hit it with another dropperful of solvent and use my paper towel to wipe away the excess.  Bestine readily evaporates at room temperature.  Do not be surprised when you apply some and it vanishes.  It did its work and left.

4.  Finished



Is there anything more satisfying than a job well done?  That book is extra clean!  For bonus points, take a little isopropyl alcohol and give that jacket a rub down.  It's great at removing dust and dirt from dust jackets.  Because I did such a great job removing the price sticker and cleaning the book, I think I will grade it Very Good and use Fulfillment By Amazon to complete the sale at a slightly higher price than my competition.

Swan Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%, Pint, 16 OZ Swan Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%, Pint, 16 OZ
List Price: $10.62
Sale Price: $3.95
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Isopropyl alcohol, 99%, 16 ounce. When fighting infection isopropyl is highly recommended. For external use only. Active ingredient: isopropyl alcohol 99% by volume.


  • 99% Isopropyl Alcohol for topical antimicrobial needs
  • For Treatment of Minor Cuts and Abrasions - Helps prevent risk of infection
  • Topical Antiseptic and Sanitizer
  • First Aid Antiseptic - Great for your first aid kit at office or home
  • For Rubbing and Massaging

What, you want more proof?  Here are some more pictures of Bestine at work!

In the title of the post, I said something about records.  Yes, you can safely use Bestine to remove price stickers from vinyl record jackets.  Same rules and procedures apply.  Use Bestine on virtually anything to remove stubborn stickers.  Amazon sells the quart container at a very reasonable price.  If you want to try a smaller bottle, visit your local hobby or craft store and you should be able to find a pint sized bottle for about $6.  Seriously, they could repackage this beauty into a little Billy Mays style infomercial.



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How to Repair a Paperback Book

I fixed a broken marriage!  It was nearly torn in half, a fractured mess.  It was coming apart at the seams.  With a little time, patience, and glue, I was able to save The Marriage of Figaro: Vocal Score from the garbage bin.


This boocaught my book scouting eye for several reasons.  First, it is a Non-Fiction book.  Non-Fiction outsells Fiction.  Second, it is a musical score.  Scores cater to a specific audience and can command as much as a good textbook under the right circumstances.  Third, it is a large book.  It immediately stood out on the thrift store shelf from the other trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks for sale.  Size is no guarantor of profit, but it is a distinguishing feature that separates this book from the rest of the pack.  Finally, I checked the book on the Amazon app on my iPhone and saw a favorable resale price.  I snatched it up.


Once in my hands, the book revealed its flaws.  From the shelf I could see its creased, dirty spine, but I did not expect the book to fall apart when I opened it!  I like to buy books in the best condition possible (Very Good to Like New) because they require the least work to resell and solidify my reputation as a seller of high quality items.  However, I occasionally pick up books in Acceptable to Good condition and recondition them to Good or Very Good depending on how the restoration turns out.  The Marriage of Figaro, in this broken state, was Acceptable at best; a usable copy to someone in desperate need of the text, but not a reliable, sturdy copy of a book that will see much use and handling as a textbook.  Priced to move for a quarter ($0.25), I took the small risk and decided to purchase it with the plan of repairing the binding.


For this repair, I used Helmar Professional Acid Free Glue.  It dries clear, forms a strong, flexible bond, and maintains its integrity due to its neutral pH.  Other glues can yellow if they are not pH neutral or are susceptible to degradation.  Make sure your glue is appropriate for the task.

Helmar Acid Free Glue, 8.45 Fluid Ounce Helmar Acid Free Glue, 8.45 Fluid Ounce


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Assess the Damage


She's split right down the middle.  All of the pages are present and intact, making the book suitable for repair.  If the book is missing any pages, it's probably not worth repairing unless it is an exceptionally scarce book.  The interior of the book is still attached to the cover, leaving us with the split spine.

Address the Damage



Lay a line of glue down the spine.  I use my paring knife to work the glue into problem areas and smooth it out before closing up the book.  Remove any stray glue that made its way onto the pages.  Carefully close the book and lay it down.


Make your spine as straight as possible, then place weights atop the book to aid the healing process.  Gravity is your friend.  In this example, I used an old iBook (essentially a brick at this point) and several hardcover books in lieu of a fancy book press.  Use what you have at your disposal.  If you have a few copies of Marv Levy's autobiography, go for it.  First Edition of The Notebook?  Just icing on the cake.

Now wait.  Be patient; do not touch your book for 24 hours.  The glue applies and dries quickly, but you should let it set for a day to ensure a quality repair.


Patience pays off.  After 24 hours, I opened my book and was happy with the repair.  I handled the book for a bit, riffling it back and forth, holding it as I would were I to use it for study, and I feel confident selling this book on the marketplace.  Once Acceptable, it is now Good, and ready to find a new home.



The book has a nice square binding, but the damage is evident to a keen eye.  Always disclose any damage or condition issues in your books.

The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro): Vocal Score The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro): Vocal Score
Author: Ruth Martin
List Price: $34.99
Sale Price: $25.64
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(Vocal Score). Italian/English. Translated by Martin.


  • 496 Pages
  • Editor or Translator: Ruth Martin
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Publisher: G. Schirmer, Inc.
  • Softcover