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Topic: Humidity "damage"

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Subject: Humidity "damage"
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 7:35 AM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,728
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How do you feel about receiving books with humidity "damage"? I have been picking up a few wish list books in the bookstore where I work and posting them randomly or by having contests over in CMT, but I am wondering if I should keep doing so because the humidity in our store is absolutely incredibly high and we have been noticing that on the paperbacks the covers are warping and the pages are curling. The books aren't actually WET but we have done a couple of tests and even after lying on a table with heavier books on top of them, the warped books are not returning to normal shape. So I don't know if I should keep on buying these books to post or not. Seems a shame if I can't though since nothing in our store is more than 9.99 and the majority of books are between 2.99 and 5.99 (remainder books, not used books).

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 7:44 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2009
Posts: 151
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I'm pretty sure those books would be considered unpostable. Since humidity still technically counts as water damage.

I, personally, still wouldn't mind trading them for a credit. But you'll probably need to make an unpostable list with the books that have warped covers.

From the help docs:

Overall Condition:

  • No damage at all from water or other liquid
  • Not soiled
  • No stains (exception for cookbooks--see below)
  • No mold
  • no highlighting, underlining or writing on text pages (exception for textbooks --see below)


  • Must both be present (front and back)
    • note that a paperback missing its front cover is  usually an illegal, unsold copy
    • "cover" does not = dust jacket.  Hardcovers do not need to include their dust jackets to be swapped here.
  • Cover not water damaged (there may be no water damage to any part of the book)
  • Cover not torn or chewed/gnawed
    • some used book stores cut out a small part of the cover; if the amount missing is less than 1 square inch, this is OKAY
    • a small rip (less than 1 inch) in the cover is OKAY
    • yes, that does say "chewed/gnawed" above.  That means no pet-chewed (or human-chewed) books.
  • A bookplate inside the cover or on the flyleaf is OKAY


Last Edited on: 8/14/09 7:47 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 7:49 AM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,728
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Heidi I don't actually own the books yet to post. If they are deemed unpostable, I am just going to stop buying paperbacks and only get hardcovers from now on - the prices aren't that much higher, it's just that we sell a lot fewer wish listed hardcovers so I won't be able to grant as many wishes in the future.

And I'm honestly not sure if there has ever been any consensus from the site as to whether or not humidity/waviness is considered water damage.

Last Edited on: 8/14/09 7:50 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 8:18 AM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 1,642
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If you're putting the heavy books on the paperbacks while in the store where the humidity is high, I don't know that it would help the situation much. I'm not sure where you live, but right now the humidity where I live is sky high. Unless someone lives in a desert or otherwise dry area, or has a house which has perfectly controlled humidity levels, I don't think we can avoid humidity for our books. Heck, even my public library has problems with humidity in the summer (and they even have a de-humidifier running). Personally I don't view humidity issues as water damage. Water damage to me is something that has actually seeped into the pages (infilitrated the paper so to speak).

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 8:21 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2009
Posts: 692
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I had this situation once when I had to stay at a motel for 6 weeks, which was very humid. All the books that I had with me started to go "wavy" and some paperback covers were lifting and curling. I was just sick about it. When I returned home, in normal humidity, the books slowly returned to normal. It took several weeks. Some books looked fine within the first week, others took longer.

ETA: using a dehumidifier in the room would help.

Blessings, Christina

Last Edited on: 8/14/09 8:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 8:51 AM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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if it is that bad, it may causing other issues not with books.  I would get a dehumitafier  - they work wonders.   I have one in my basement in the summer - it feels damp when you go downstairs - when it is running it feels just cool.

I also think they should be fine.  I have had a lot of high humity over the past few days and the newer books started to expand and wave up - when the humity returned they are fine.   Good Luck

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 9:01 AM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,728
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Jubead - I wish we could get a dehumidifier or at least some kind of air quality system. But our corporate office refuses to pay for one - they say if the employees want it, we will have to pay for it out of our own pockets. Just like pretty much everything else we have needed above and beyond what they consider "absolutely necessary." They provided us with stock, a computer, a printer, and two cash registers. We have had to pay for everything else, even a vacuum cleaner. We even have to provide our own toilet paper! The corporate office doesn't seem to care that the stock is being damaged by the store's air condition.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2009
Posts: 151
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If it was me, and I recieved a book with wavy pages or covers, I would consider it water damaged and mark it RWAP. Not that I mind wavy pages, but visually the book would appear damaged and I would mark it as such. If I recieved a PM from the sender explaining it was just humidity and that the pages should unwrinkle, I doubt I'd wait to see if that actually happened.

Just to give you an idea of what a member might think upon recieving a humidity damaged book.

I, personally, consider humidity damage to be water damage. No, the book didn't get "wet," but it's the water in the air that caused the pages to wrinkle -- therefore, it's "water" damage. I have yet to experience humidity damage and have never heard of the pages unwrinkling, so that's interesting. But, again, if I recieved a booked with wrinkled pages, I'd mark it RWAP because it would visually appear to be water damaged and I would not be expecting the pages to unwrinkle.

Just thoughts. Not trying to argue.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:15 AM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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I think the corporation needs some type of overhaul.  It isn't healthy never mind the paper and stock.  The printer is going to go and I am surprised you can print.  I am so sorry you are working in that environment. 

I do not consider wavy pages water damage.  I just purchased brand new from B&N a book that was wavy - it is the paper they use now which I believe alot is recycled.  When I get them home I just put them near the dehumifier for a day or two or there are beads you can buy at home depot that takes the moistier out of the air - so for small quanity of books it works.  

You know water damage when you see it....it is unmistakeable.  Water damage the pages become crinkly and now wavy but actually bumby and the paper feels different.  I purchased a brand new copy of Martha Stewart's cookie book put it on the counter and had my water glass there because oh- I was going through it looking at the receipies and the cat jumped up and knocked over the water on the book - that isn't wavy pages.

There should be pictures of water damage vis wavy pages - stains vs foxing  etc so members can use it as a guide.  Good luck -

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:23 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,804
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How can you tell the difference from a humildity wave and cheap paper wave?  More and more the books I buy at B&N and Borders are wavy.   It has nothing to do with the humidity but is caused by the cheap paper.  To me wavy pages do not equal water damage.

No Bren, I would not consider them RWAP.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2009
Posts: 151
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It's just strange to me because all my "wavy pages" books are from water damage. I had a few books in my backpack once. It POURED outside. I got back to my room, had a wet book and I sat it out to dry. The result was wavy pages.

That's been the result for all my water damaged books. So to me, whenever someone says "wavy pages" I think "water damage." Though, maybe I'm an odd ball. That would explain why when a member complained that a free book she got had been marked as having wavy pages and when she recieved it, it was more like it had been drenched and then set out to dry, and I was all confused going "Well, what did you think 'wavy pages' ment?"

And I don't believe I've seen a wavy paged book from cheap paper... *is curious as to what that would look like*

Last Edited on: 8/14/09 10:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 1,642
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There's a change to the texture of paper when it's damage from water--you can feel it. I was hiking a few weeks ago and my books (hiking guides) got soaked even through my backpack. The wavy pages on that are totally different from the wavy pages from humidity and/or cheap paper. Also, I think a lot of times the cheap paper waviness is more uniform than water damage waviness.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:45 AM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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I am finding the cheap paper which I think is recycled paper is enhanced when humiity is high.  I just looked at a few of my books and they have puffed out and they are really wavy- this relates only books published recently.  However when the humitity decreases and I place large heavy books or wrap in plastic wrap tightly for a few days  - it is back to the original look from when I purchased or I sometimes reduce the waviness.  So if it were water damage that wouldn't happen.

The difference between water damaged books and wavy/humiity books - in my opinion,  with water damage the paper has a brittle/stiff texture while wavy has is more uniformed w/o the brittle/stiff texture.  Just go to a BJs, Costco, Walmart - and look at the books...it isn't water damage.   I noticed this is mostly with mass paper backs - not trades or hardcovers.

I agree I would not mark a book with wavy pages as described - RWAP

Last Edited on: 8/14/09 11:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2009
Posts: 401
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I live in Arizona and we get a monsoon season every year, for about 3 weeks around July. I love it when it hits but I can feel a dampness in my home and it drives me crazy, lol. 

I keep most of my books in a big plastic box or two. But if I leave a book I'm reading out, I can see a difference from wavy pages due to humidity and those that do get actual water damage from rain or something being spilt. And a lot of mass market paperback books are made with the cheaper paper. Low cost = more profit.

I still list my books, but I'm starting to wonder... Will some think water damage?

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 11:05 AM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 5,045
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If humidity = water damage, everyone here on the east coast might as well resign our memberships now.  Here in NJ it is so hot and humid that our industrial AC is having a hard time keeping up. 

I went to Borders and all the new HC books had uniformly wavy pages.  I would hope these uniformly wavy pages, without water stains or the hard crinkly texture of water damage (i.e., form actual liquid water landing on a book ) would not be a RWAP.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 11:14 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 4,412
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I just opened a box of books from Amazon - all brand new MMPB - several had wavy pages already!  I live in a very dry SoCal area, so it's not the humidity here, though it may have been at its shipping source (maybe Amazon buys from your store, Bren LOL).  I believe, however, that it's the super cheap, recycled paper that's being used.

For myself, a book with uniformly wavy pages is perfectly acceptable, either from cheap paper or humidity as long as there is no staining or crispy, dry texture of paper that's been wet.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2009
Posts: 11,095
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I live in a basement apartment and have a humidity problem.  I have a dehumidifier running all the time which helps.  If I forget to empty it before work and it fills up (and turns itself off), when I get home, any books that aren't tightly on shelves and the posters I have in the kitchen will be slightly warped.  It's the uniform kind.  If I empty the dehumidifier and turn it back on, after a couple hours the waves will be gone as the water is pulled out of the air.  I don't consider it permenant water damage.  I've mailed a bunch of books that this has happened to and no one has ever said anything.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,222
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I'm pretty sure those books would be considered unpostable. Since humidity still technically counts as water damage. The site has never said this and I think the TGs have said that humidity does NOT necessarily mean water/liquid damage.

But, if the humidity is so bad that the covers are warping and don't straighten out, then I think you may end up getting RWPs because they are going to appear water damaged. Otherwise, as Cozi said, most humidity cannot be distinguished from cheap paper waves.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,130
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Humidity is not water damage.

IMO, these things DO NOT and CANNOT possibly cause a book to be water damaged:

1. setting it on a bookshelf in a humid part of the country.
2. reading it in a humid part fo the country.
3. reading a book with "normal hands" (the new cheap paper in many books appears to have 'fingerprint" wrinkles after you're done with the book)
4. buying a new book with wavy pages.

Water damage is caused by LIQUID coming into contact with the book.

People who live in humid parts of the country can't help it if books are made of cheaper paper than they were in the past. They shouldn't be penalized for this.

Water damage can be seen by staining of the cover or pages and/or texture changes, as noted above.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 1:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Humidity can be bad here in KY, but it never seems to be bad in my house.  I actually get new books with wavy pages and they smooth out after I've had them at home for a few weeks.  Then again, I'm dehydrated all winter, so it's a tradeoff:P  I think most people who mistake humidity warping for water damage just aren't accustomed to seeing it.  I wouldn't return credits on a book with wavy pages from simple humidity (not the ones I'm used to seeing & buying new anyway), nor would I ask for them.  People can mark all sorts of things RWAP, but that doesn't mean tptb will automatically agree with them.

Subject: dehumidifier
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 1:53 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2009
Posts: 9
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You might check out freecycle.com for your area to see if someone has one they could donate to the bookstore.  Also put up a sign requesting the donation of a dehumidifier.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 2:02 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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What Sara said :-)

I'm seeing increased thread chat regarding wavy pages and fingerprints (perspiration) on pages.  If this isn't normal wear and tear, then PBS members should be required to use a dehumidifier and wear gloves while reading.  I'm not defending water damaged books, but this is a USED book site.

Last Edited on: 8/14/09 2:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/14/2009 3:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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If you've ever water damaged a book you know that there's a HUGE difference between water damage and wavy pages from humidity.  Even very dry parts of the country have periods of humidity, so IMO it's pretty much unavoidable.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 3:57 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Like another has said.

I have gotten brand new MMPB from Ingram which did not ship it from a warehouse which had humidity (yes I can see where the books are coming from). All these PBs had wavy pages and all were from the same publisher. The pages do not feel brittle like it does when its been water damaged.  I too think its from recycled and cheap paper.

Date Posted: 8/14/2009 8:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2008
Posts: 2,608
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I have never considered humidity to = water damage.  I think if some members are, then PBS should address this issue.  I hate to see honest members get RWAP'd unfairly just because of humidity or the normal moisture in hands, or plain cheap paper.  Tour Guides have addressed this issue, saying these are not RWAP, but it would be nice if there was mention of this issue in the Help Docs.