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You Should Stretch Your Spine

The smooth surface of a book’s spine under my fingertips is one of the most satisfying feelings. Even rough spines have their place in my heart, but I know the rougher they feel, the closer they are to falling apart. Since I almost exclusively purchase paperback books, I’m mindful of keeping them intact as long as possible. Years ago, I scoured the internet to find a way to love my books without fear of them breaking down. I eventually came across a YouTube video that explained how to stretch the spine of a book. After following the tutorial, I found that my book could be read and the spine wouldn’t crease. What a dream come true!

I have never stopped stretching the spines of my books. Every purchase or gift, new or used, I will sit down and stretch the spines. Used books take to the technique slowly, especially if they were well-loved by others before coming into my possession. The pages try to follow paths that previous readers thumbed instead of the new one I tediously create.

Hardcover books also take well to spine stretching. Hardcovers are meant to be spread open, both covers on the table, and devoured like the meal they are. These books are bound with the spine in mind. If you open your hardcover and look at how the bound spine arches away from the hardcover spines, you’ll notice that it’s topped by a peak. Stretching the spine will flatten and smooth the peak into a graceful curve. No more wonky pages in your hardcover.

I wanted to find the original video I learned this from, but I haven’t had any luck. YouTuber booksandquils, an individual that works in publishing, has uploaded a video that more or less shows you how to stretch your books’ spines. She does a great job of walking you through the steps and shows you how their example book’s spine changed. I really recommend adopting this technique if you’re an avid reader of physical books. I like the aesthetic of creased spines as much as anyone, but in terms of preservation, a smooth spine is the most promising!

Paige Pennebaker

Chapel Hill '21

Paige Pennebaker is an aspiring writer who attends UNC-Chapel Hill as a Senior during the day. She enjoys writing fiction and has been published on shortfictionbreak.com. While fiction is where her heart is, Paige also has a lot to say about the real world and how to get by.
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