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Topic: Do you know what causes...

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Subject: Do you know what causes...
Date Posted: 3/14/2009 2:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/6/2006
Posts: 1,619
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the little yellowish spots on the outside edges of some older paperbacks?  It doesn't go onto the surface of the pages, just along the outer edges.  There's no musty or mildewy smell.  And are books like this postable? 

Daniel T. - ,
Date Posted: 3/14/2009 2:42 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2008
Posts: 272
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 I believe it's called foxing. Below is the definition from Merrian-Webster. There's some prior discussion about it here in the forum.

---

Main Entry: fox·ing
Pronunciation: \fäk-siŋ\
Function: noun
Date: 1873
: brownish spots on old paper <some foxing on the pages>

Edits are line breaks giving a  problem.  Had to insert the dashes.



Last Edited on: 3/14/09 2:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 7
Date Posted: 3/14/2009 3:30 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I tried to find some foxing images that were more yellowish in color than rust/brown.  Here's one of foxing on pages ends: i2.photobucket.com/albums/y4/rubberducky102760/figure2.jpg

and on pages:

i2.photobucket.com/albums/y4/rubberducky102760/NewTestament1865Title.jpg

i2.photobucket.com/albums/y4/rubberducky102760/HarkToHoundsTitle.jpg

You can see where some of these might be mistaken for animal urine.  As to what PBS says about it - the help docs don't specifically mention foxing.  They say "Older books may have some page yellowing or spine-creasing or dogeared pages; these are all OKAY.".

Date Posted: 3/14/2009 6:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/6/2006
Posts: 1,619
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Yes Kim, that first link is exactly what I'm talking about.  It's only along the edges like that, not into the pages like the other two.  I guess I'll search for the other thread mentioned and see what the verdict is on mailing.  Thanks.

Date Posted: 3/14/2009 11:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Alisa, I don't know that there is a verdict on it anywhere - or not that I've seen anyway.  You can try contacting PBS and asking them where they officially stand on foxing, because I'm sure a lot of people (me included) would like to know.  I don't think I've ever actually sent out anything with foxing, but I have received several & I was fine with it.  But I also knew what it was and expected it, and that may not be the case with everyone.  What you could do if you posted it, is inbox the requestor when you accept the request and tell them it has foxing on the page edges.  That way if they don't want it, you can cancel the request.  If it's WL though, the WL offer would go back to them when you reposted it.  IMO, it's ok to send books with foxing, as long as the requestor knows about it in advance & they're ok with it.  In a lot of old books, it's can be very difficult  to find copies that don't have it.



Last Edited on: 3/14/09 11:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/14/2009 11:33 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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Foxing - true foxing - does not make a book unpostable.

Ruth



Last Edited on: 3/14/09 11:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/15/2009 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I get those yellow spots on books all the time and always take them off my shelf, because I have never gotten any clear answer about what they are and have to consider them a stain.

Date Posted: 3/15/2009 3:43 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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P.S. I frequently find them on quite recent books, not just old ones. And they tend to be bigger and yellower than the ones in Kim's example. But are clearly not food/animal stains. 

Date Posted: 3/15/2009 6:45 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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This increases the evidence of the publishers using cheaper lower grade paper these days.  It's annoying!

Ruth

Date Posted: 3/15/2009 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2007
Posts: 3,430
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I'm sorry I can't provide a link, but I do know that at one time the official PBS verdict on foxing is that it is OK.  I can't find it in the help docs; I just remember seeing it here on the forums. 

Since some people may be unaware of foxing and may think it's a stain, I PM a person before sending it.  I know some people don't like to PM, but I don't want anyone to be disappointed in the books I send. 

Date Posted: 3/15/2009 8:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,425
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It is caused by the acid content in the paper.  High quality paper is labeled acid free.  You can sometimes find this mentioned on the copyright page.  The acid reacts to things like light, moisture, skin oils, sweat, the bookshelf surface it sits on, the oil in the ink, and age.  Valuable books and art are kept in climate control to prevent this reaction.  Almost all MMPBs are made with cheap paper that has acid in it.  The acid content is usually one of the major differences between book club editions and regular HBs.

Sometimes you can sand off the surface to remove the spots.  Which works if there is one or two.  But face it, older books get them.  I expect them in older PBs.

Oh.  And they are more or less visible depending on what type of light you are under.



Last Edited on: 3/15/09 8:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/16/2009 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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The most detailed explanation of foxing I could find is in document form and not something I could copy & paste, and now I can't find the stupid site that I picked it up from:P  It's also too long to transcribe, so I put it on photobucket here: i2.photobucket.com/albums/y4/rubberducky102760/dtc22tif.gif

Just to very briefly paraphrase: Iron & other metals from the printing plates or machinery can get into the paper and can be a factor in foxing. As they say there, yellow, red, or red-brown coloring does suggest iron.   Acid content can be a factor as well, although most of the documentation that I've looked at that mentions acid content is usually in the context of "tanning", which is an overall darkening or yellowing of pages or the bck side of covers.  Mold has apparently been found to be a contributor in foxing, and humidity seems to be a common factor across the board.  It looks like different studies find different things, and thus you have varying opinions on the exact causes.  Specific factors almost have to be determined through paper analysis in a lab, and it's unlkely than anybody is testing a box of old paperbacks from the attic - or if they are, it's not happening very frequently:P  They are specifically talking about 18th & 19th century books in that paper, and most of the foxing we see in older paperbacks is obviously newer than that, but the causes are likely still the same or very similar.  It may be that not all of the same factors are present in each case, or may be present in lesser or greater degrees, which could account for variances in patterns, distribution, and coloration.  I'm not an expert, and I have no idea if that's true or not, but it would seem to make sense. 



Last Edited on: 3/16/09 10:48 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Sharon -
Date Posted: 3/16/2009 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 12/5/2008
Posts: 60
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I am a former archivist/rare books librarian.  Foxing is not a stain (not that you couldn't have a real stain that looks like foxing).  No one is totally sure what causes foxing though there are various guesses out there. You see it most often on older books, but it can happen on newer ones as well.  Some people wonder if the same conditions that cause mildew/mold on a book are also responsible for foxing.  The truth is, though, that no one knows for sure!  I would not be hesitant to order a book with foxing.  All the rare book libraries in the world have tons of books with foxing.  If foxing was a bad thing--like a disease you catch--these librarians would never permit a "foxed" book into their collections since they have individual books worth thousands of dollars.



Last Edited on: 3/16/09 11:56 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/16/2009 12:56 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I have quite a few collectibles myself.  Nothing like 100yr old Bibles or anything that you'd want to store under glass, but old paperbacks, magazines & such that are valuable to me.  I have some in mylar sleeves and some are stored in shelves & containers with other old books that have foxing on them.  I've had some for years and never noticed that the foxing has spread from one book to another.  When I first saw "mold" cited as a factor, I did sorta have this "oh crap" moment though:P 

Date Posted: 3/16/2009 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2006
Posts: 54,837
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Like Sheena, I'm sure TPTB have posted in the the forums saying foxing is allowed, but darned if I can find it using the forum search. 

Date Posted: 3/16/2009 1:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Well, I'm taking that as the burning bush has spoken then; a TGL said so & all that:P  If you start getting a gazillion inboxes with questions about foxing, Beth, you'll know who to blame:P