Getting price labels off book covers


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#1 NKF

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 04:50 AM

After picking up two books from the bookshop recently, (Discworld: Making Money and Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, to be precise), I'm left with a bit of a conundrum.

How do you remove the price label from the dust jacket or the book cover itself, without causing any damage to the cover? Not only are they a blight on the cover, they sometimes cover something you want to read or look at. I'm just worried that I might end up tearing the cover when peeling off the sticker.

Some area easy enough to lift off, but there are those (particularly papery labels) that end up tearing the cover off as well. I'd very much prefer to avoid that. Does anyone have any effective tips or secrets to at removing difficult labels like this off books?

Any ideas would be appreciated.

I guess this could also extend to such things as DVD box set cases or pretty much anything that might get damaged while peeling off a difficult price label.

- NKF
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#2 Matri

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 05:42 AM

... Admittedly, this isn't something you'd expect to find on a computer gaming forum.

About the only other method I can think of is to steam it off, but that will prove tricky most of the time.
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#3 NKF

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 07:01 AM

You'd be surprised at the amount of expertise and wide ranging interests I've noticed on completely unrelated forums - so it's worth a try. Also, it's general enough for the off-topic forum. :D

Steam eh? Hmm, might give that a try some time.

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#4 Bomb Bloke

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 08:50 AM

I read once in an X-Box disassembly tutorial that you could safely remove the stickers covering important screws using lighter fluid (hexane). You drip a bit around the edges and keep it coming as the sticker peels off.

Apparently the stuff evaporates after a few minutes and the stickers go back to their usual sticky selves. Dunno if it'd leave a smell, never actually tried it myself.
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#5 Matri

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 01:20 AM

Yeah, but I'd rather not drip lighter fluid on paper.
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#6 NKF

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 09:39 PM

I was thinking of methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol. But that stuff strips paint, so it's no better.

Heat or steam might be the safest option.

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#7 Zombie

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 12:02 AM

Denatured alcohol probably will not work as the adhesive has a different chemical base. Lacquer thinner usually works (can be acquired at a local hardware joint or paint store), but make sure to test color leeching and/or deglossing on an inconspicuous area first. Also, removing most of the paper part of the label and uncovering the adhesive will help to get rid the residue quicker. If that doesn't work, you could try a commercial product (such as "Goof-off" or similar). My experience with those products is they tend to dissolve indiscriminately - meaning they will discolor. I always opt for scratching the label off with a fingernail first. You would be surprised at how much you can get off if you are patient enough. You could try steaming, but the water vapor may ruin book covers which are not shiny.

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JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
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#8 Matri

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 09:57 AM

View PostZombie, on 22nd October 2007, 8:02am, said:

You could try steaming, but the water vapor may ruin book covers which are not shiny.

And even some which are shiny. So either way you look at it, there's no safe way.

Just ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?
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#9 FullAuto

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 10:05 AM

I don't know, do you feel lucky?

I shall have to give that a try.  I assume it's a rhetorical thing, like "What would Jesus/Napoleon do?"

"Does Matri feel lucky?"

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#10 NKF

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 09:20 AM

Looks like I got lucky - it came off by itself after a while. It appears prolonged exposure to the heat from my hands while reading were enough to melt the glue enough for it to lift off easily.

Still, that's just one instance solved. The war's not over yet.

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#11 Zombie

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 08:20 AM

Bump.

The other day I was reading one of my X-COM books and noticed a big label was covering some text on the back cover. It's been on there since I purchased it from a library which went out of business. Anyhow, the only thing I had on hand was rubbing alcohol so I decided to try it. It works... sort of.

Here's the deal. Alcohol really doesn't dissolve anything. It does however, wet something down without making the item wet (if that makes any sense). It also acts as a lubricant. These properties make it a fairly good choice for removing labels.

Step 1: If the label is mostly intact, try to peel it off first. Most of the time I am able to remove a label completely without the need for other tricks. If it doesn't want to come off, try to get the paper part of the label off. This usually leaves a little bit of the paper stuck to the adhesive part of the label.

Step 2: If peeling didn't work, lay a cloth over the label (assuming it isn't a super-glossy or plastic label) and pour some rubbing alcohol on it. Let that sit for a while and reapply after about 2-3 minutes. By now the label should look "wet". You have one of two options here, either use your finger or the cloth but the method is the same. Lightly rub on the label area until you start to see the paper coming off. Keep rubbing with an alcohol soaked cloth and the adhesive should start to come off as well. At any time if the label starts to dry out, reapply more alcohol until it looks wet again.

That's it. Just keep rubbing lightly and you should be in good shape. No marks are left and the alcohol doesn't degloss the cover or cause the colors to bleed. As an added bonus, alcohol can be used to remove fingerprints on the cover making it look new. I tried this on a number of paperback books with glossy covers and got great results. Scratching a label sometimes leaves marks so don't press to hard. Make sure to do this procedure in an open area with good ventilation and no sparks of any kind. Alcohol is flammable and ignites with a nearly invisible blue flame and can also give you a terrible buzz if inhaled in high quantities. Let me know how you fare, NKF. :D

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JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#12 Pete

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 08:53 AM

Your book collection must smell interesting :D
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#13 Zombie

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 09:20 AM

The fumes dissipate after a few minutes and leave no ill effects. My books still smell musty as ever. :D

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JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#14 NKF

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 06:05 AM

It dries up fairly quickly - I use it all the time for cleaning acrylic paints or excess marker lines while working on plastic model kits. Pre-moistened wipes used for electric equipment like Laptop screens, photocopier/scanner platen glass, specatcles,CDs, etc are also good for general purpose 'dry' cleaning.

So far I've been fairly lucky with the labels I want to remove off my books. But I suppose there are other things I need to remove them from, such as my DVDs which aren't as lucky. It's not so bad if it's a sticker on the plastic DVD jewel case - it's when they get 'smart' and stick the label on the inside cover or the art box.

edit:

Just thought I'd experiment on a few of my game boxes. Looks like a gradual approach works best. by wetting the label of several applications, and then slowly peeling the label.

Whenever the label started to tear, I wet the label again to soften the tear, scrape it towards the label and then continue gently peeling it from there. Seems all right, although I mainly worry that the alcohol will end up lifting the colour from around the label. But I guess that depends on the type of paper used and the quality of the ink used.

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#15 Zombie

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 01:59 AM

View PostNKF, on 17th March 2008, 12:05am, said:

Whenever the label started to tear, I wet the label again to soften the tear, scrape it towards the label and then continue gently peeling it from there. Seems all right, although I mainly worry that the alcohol will end up lifting the colour from around the label. But I guess that depends on the type of paper used and the quality of the ink used.
Good to hear NKF. Of all the labels I have removed so far there have been no instances of the alcohol dissolving the ink below. I suppose glossiness of the ink helps to prevent leeching of the solvent into the surface. Alcohol also evaporates quick enough to stop any leeching should it occur. The other factor is the base of the ink and the pigment itself. If the pigment is dispersed in a hydrocarbon-based solvent, it should have a tough time being lifted by ethanol/methanol. If the pigment in the ink is water-based, there is a greater chance of it interacting with the lower molecular weight alcohols due to similar properties. Still, when ink dries the properties of it change as well. (Think of latex paint for a minute. It is easy enough to clean up a spill with plain water when it is wet, but when the paint dries water doesn't do anything). :D

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JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#16 Dumb_Commander

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 04:57 AM

OO, seriously the only fool proof trick I use is very slow peeling with my fingers. Works every time, without any rips or anything.

#17 Zombie

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 02:26 AM

I suspect you haven't encountered labels with adhesive which is old or dried out. Those are impossible to remove simply by pulling. :)

NKF: If you wet the surface of the label with alcohol and then peel off the paper part, you will be in good shape. However, sometimes the adhesive part will take literally forever to come off with just alcohol. As a last resort, I recently tried paint thinner (aka mineral spirits) and it worked fine. It certainly got rid of all the adhesive residue and as far as I could tell it didn't discolor the cover. A drawback is that paint thinner will leave behind an oily residue and it will stink up the cover. In that case, wipe the surface of the cover with rubbing alcohol again. Just make sure not to leave the paint thinner residue on the cover too long - I can't guarantee what would happen there. Again, this only works on glossy or semi-glossy paperback covers without any tears or bends. Best not try paint thinner in this case as it will seep into the paper cover. :)

- Zombie

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JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#18 JellyfishGreen

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 12:13 PM

Two more possibilities. First, you could try a commercial label remover. The X-Com Engineering Lab uses one called "Servisol Label Remover 130". Secondly, you could try a bit of oil, such as vegetable oil. This works especially well when you have already tried to peel off the label and ended up leaving behind the inner paper layer and the adhesive, give the oil some time to soak through to the adhesive. This is the same chemical reaction that makes peanut butter good at removing gum from hair - the adhesive molecules get coated in oil or summwhat.

No guarantees that it won't soak into the book cover, though.
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#19 Zombie

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 01:46 PM

View PostJellyfishGreen, on 1st May 2008, 6:13am, said:

No guarantees that it won't soak into the book cover, though.
Yeah, that's what I'd be afraid of. Even a tiny bit that would soak into the paper would be impossible to remove. That, and as the oil is exposed to the air a chemical process known as "oxidative rancidity" takes place (basically the oil starts to rot). Now your book will be rotting from the inside out and will start to smell. :)

I haven't run across Servisol yet. :)

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JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#20 Cpl. Facehugger

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 03:59 PM

X-Com books, Zombie? Do you mean the strategy guides, or are there multiple novels? I'm only familiar with the one novelization of the first game, but I'm always interested in learning more X-Com lore.
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