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I have to cover some books with adhesive contact paper. Although I try to do it slowly and with the help of a ruler, I systematically get some bubbles between the book and the cover.

Is there a good trick to do that properly?

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    Side note: contact paper is a terrible method of book conservation. Hope that book is ultimately considered disposable.
    – inkista
    Apr 28, 2016 at 18:55
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    @inkista, this is an old question that was just reopened. Your comment was appropriately a comment since it didn't answer the question, but it's certainly relevant to the question. It would be a lot more useful to readers if you could add a couple of sentences (additional comment), as to why it's a terrible method.
    – fixer1234
    May 12 at 19:16
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    @fixer1234, the issue is that any answer I write about why it's a terrible idea (best conservation methods are always reversible; the adhesive is likely not chemically inert, etc.) still wouldn't be an answer to the question of how to remove bubbles in application. It needs to be a different question altogether. Why don't you just ask/answer a separate question (e.g,. "Is contact paper a good way to preserve a book?", if you want that knowledge captured on this SE?
    – inkista
    May 13 at 0:33

4 Answers 4

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Try removing the paper off the plastic foil during the process, not before like removing a little bit of foil, sticking it on the edge, then pulling away the paper flat on the book.

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  • This is likely to have the advantage of the backing paper curling more than the film - in general the part you peal tends to be the one that curls more than the part you hold flat.
    – Chris H
    May 13 at 6:07
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I have never personally done this with books but in concept there are a few things you need to keep in mind that will help make this process easier.

  • Remove all debris from the cover of the book. Dust particles and hair will make this a near impossible process. Small particles that you cant see and wont show up until you make contact. This is something you likely are already mindful of but you need to be sure of your cleaning medium as well. Something with paper fibers like Kleenex or paper towels would leave behind stuff as well. Dust in the air as well won't be helping this so need to pick a good location

  • Your surface needs to be flat. I mean this both as your working surface and the book itself. You might be having an issue if you are working the adhesive sheet from the top to the bottom of the book. The binding would make the book sit not perfectly flat. You might have more luck moving from left to right or more accurately start at the binding and work away from it. Working from top to bottom might cause the book pages to slide as you progress.

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Besides the ideas given in other answers I found two tricks to make the process easier:

  • You can try to remove bubbles with the help of a pin pressing them slightly and then smoothing them out. But this is more of a remedy for when you already have the bubbles than a solution for your problem.
  • Here is suggested that you spray a bit of water in the non-adhesive side of the contact paper and your surface before putting the book over the contact. I haven't tried it myself but it is worth a try.
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    Be careful with statements like "Besides all the answers given above". You cannot guarantee how people have the answers sorted nor how people are voting. Above for you could be different for someone else. If you want to reference specific answer use the "share" link for those answers and include that in yours. You could just say other answers if you wanted.
    – Matt
    Apr 28, 2016 at 16:10
  • @Matt Thanks, I will edit my answer to avoid confusion.
    – A. A.
    Apr 28, 2016 at 16:12
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My procedure as learned from a librarian (those books are covered with a thicker kind to make them last longer, but it also works with the thinner kind):

Move the book, not the foil.

Mark and cut the foil to the required size. Gently fold and mark the center line with a small cut, this will leave the foil with a small notch, unlike markings on the paper. (Alternatively, waterproof pen on the foil should work too, but needs more equipment, you have the scissors out anyway.)

Place the foil paper-side up on the table and gently pull off the backing on the side away from you until slightly beyond the central line - basically enough for one side plus the spine plus a small margin.

Gently place the spine of the book along the center (use the notches for alignment). For thin books, just put it on, for wider spines, start at one vertical side and gently roll it onto the foil, using the curve of the back. (Paperbacks sometimes are curved inwards, in that case, use the process for the front & back cover as described below.)

Then tilt the book slightly away from you and use it to pull the whole setup towards the edge of your table. Then guide the book down along the edge, so that the table edge works like a straight edge. As the foil remains flat on the table (and usually there’s also a bit of static helping it cling to the table), there’s very little risk of air bubbles forming.

Finish the edges of this side (cut and fold as needed) first, then turn the book around so that you can repeat the process for the other side.

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