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The IOBA Standard is the journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and covers the book world, with a special focus on the online used, out-of-print, and collectible bookselling markets.


IOBA Q & A Column and an unanswered question

Q. Who knows where I can find a list of the countries that DO NOT accept global priority mail?

I’m getting quite a few international orders these days and it’s always a moment of truth at the counter when I find out the tab is not $7 or $9 but $20 and up. I know from bitter experience there is no global priority to Italy, but what are the other countries?

Susan Halas Prints Pacific

A. This chart names all the countries that accept GPM:

George Cross

Q. Can anyone recommend a book-safe pesticide for silverfish?

My main problem is that they are finding a nice, comfortable lifestyle inside of boxes of books. Periodic vacuuming is not a good option.

Doug McClure A. Here are a few suggestions. All of these are repellents, not true insecticides.

1. Menthol crystals — best to keep these in a small container such as a cotton-plugged tube. I have never observed any damage or color change in bindings or djs exposed to menthol crystals, but you never know…..

2. Eucalyptus leaves/branches. Just menthol in a natural form. Be sure the plant materials are thoroughly dry before placing near the books. Again, dried, crushed leaves in a cotton-plugged tube might be safest.

3. Depending on where you are located and whether you can obtain them, fruits of the Bois d’Arc tree (Osage orange, Maclura pomifera) also repel silverfish and many other insect pests. I do not know what the active ingredient is here, and obviously more care should be taken to avoid contact between the books and the plant materials.


A. As an entomologist and IPM specialist for museums the past 25 years, I have found that boric acid is not very effective against silverfish. In fact, cellulosic insulation for buildings (ground up paper treated with borates for fire retardancy) does not deter silverfish at all. They feast on it.

Another dust, such as Drione (finely divided silica gel plus pyrethrum) would be a much better choice. Even straight silica gel pesticidal dust would work quite well. Both are basically desiccants with sharp particles that scrape the wax off the cuticle of the insects and dehydrate the pests. Such dusts should be applied to pipe chases, voids in walls where pipes emerge, and cracks and crevices where the pests hide during the daytime.

If conventional, residual sprays are to be used, an encapsulated or wettable powder formulation would work best. These should be applied as perimeter sprays to the baseboards under which silverfish hide. They can also be directed into cracks and crevices and pipe voids.

Actually glueboards (also known as sticky boards or capture traps) work well against silverfish. They are a non-toxic approach which stay in place for long periods of time intercepting silverfish while the nocturnal pests roam about the space.

Also, I noted a response from someone on the Internet about sensitivity and allergies to pyrethrum. When dusting for silverfish, you place a light amount of the dust as a coating in voids and pipe chases, never in the open. For instance, the 4″ void beneath cabinetry, shelving, or natural history ranges would be a logical place to put Drione dust. Pipe chases are often inhabited by silverfish and would be another logical place to blow in Drione dust with a bulb duster. If Drione is used in a sane manner, no one will ever come into contact with it. Besides, after application, the pyrethrum eventually breaks down and disappears, leaving the finely divided silica gel in place for intercepting crawling insects. Not bad for carpet beetle larvae either.

Thomas A. Parker, PhD Pest Control Services, Inc. 14 East Stratford Avenue Lansdowne, PA 19050 610-284-6249 610-284-4494 FAX – website

Editor’s Note – Joyce Godsey’s Book Deodorizer,, may work as well. I understand she is testing it for silverfish, etc., as we speak.

Q. This is probably a silly question…but why on older books are some of the pages “uncut”? I purchased a set of nice Dickens off of PBA. I was hoping to read them, But no! Every other page is uncut and obviously unread. I find this annoying as I can also presume if one carefully cuts the pages, the so called collector value drops faster than the Dotcom bust.

I would appreciate some insight on this. Forgive me if it has been discussed before as I must have missed it.

John Scott Porterfield

A. Publishers deliberately issued books with pages uncut, in their original boards, so that owners could take them to a binder of their choice who would then have the maximum width of possible margin available, i..e., the binder would then trim the book (thus “opening” the pages) to whatever width was suitable for the binding style.

Michael Cole York


A. I’ve been told that a plastic card, like a credit card or membership card (which would be thinner than a credit card) works well.

Suzanne Boomer’s Books

And along the same lines:

A. A nice stiff playing card works well; I have noticed little difference in the efficacy of a face card as opposed to those of lower value.

David Holloway

More information:

A. This is probably a bit pedantic, but I believe the correct term is unopened, not uncut. According to The Book Collector’s Fact Book by Margaret Haller, “An unopened book is one which has not as yet had any closed leaves slit open with a sharp instrument such as a paper knife or letter opener, so that the pages might be read. An uncut book, on the other hand, is one which has not been trimmed at the bindery.”

Editor’s note: According to John Holden’s The Bookman’s Glossary:

“Uncut edges – Leaves untrimmed by machinery. Not to be confused with ‘unopened’.

Unopened – A book with folded edges that have not been sliced open by hand, as with a paper cutter. Not to be confused with ‘uncut edges’.”

Michael S. Greenbaum

Q. I am planning to ship a number of books from three different locations back to my home base. Each shipment will contain 300-600 or more books. The last time I did this, I carted them around in my Taurus station wagon and finished up with lots of car damage due to the weight. I have also pulled a U-Haul trailer, but with the amount of time I’ll be away it would be a costly solution. In the past I have sent small boxes of books (read about 30-40 books) via USPS using Media Mail. This was a fairly good way to ship. But slightly costly. UPS is apparently more expensive. Does anyone have any good suggestions about shipping methods for boxes of books. And, for that matter, any good ideas for packing such boxes so the books arrive in reading condition and not as saw dust. All suggestions greatly appreciated.

Michael Schneps

A. Many booksellers I know won’t buy large quantities of books because they don’t want to deal with moving them. Here are a few ideas we’ve used over the years, updated quickly with a few phone numbers and companies we’ve used. I’m not endorsing these companies – check for the best rates, and as always ask around locally to find recommendations and best fits for your situation.

1) Move them yourself. Rent a panel truck to minimize the wear on your own vehicles. You can rent by the week or month at more favorable rates. We’ve used Rent-A-Wreck in the past – cheap rates and working but unattractive (beatup) trucks and cars. Their website is at, 1-800-944-7501. Although it’s been a while since we’ve used them, they were no-frills trucks, very little amenities, but lots of space. Many of the major car rental companies (Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, etc) also rent panel trucks that are inexpensive. You can ask if they have any beatup vans for rent at a discount. If you need working AC make sure you ask for it – many of these cheapies don’t have it.

2) Send packages via bus. Many bus lines will allow you to send packages economically via their existing bus routes – they’re going there anyway, why not make some money moving your books? Don’t expect pristine handling, but you can often ship terminal to terminal avoiding the industrial parks of most commercial shippers. For large quantities this isn’t the best choice. We’ve used Greyhound, website at: Their service, Greyhound Package Express (GPX) is “an economical way to deliver packages, especially those within a 300-mile radius. Counter-to-counter services is available from most Greyhound terminals and door-to-door service is available in selected areas.” Call them at 800-739-5020 for more information.

3) Send packages via UPS. UPS has a standard rate for shipping packages which you can get at any drop-off center. Anyone with daily UPS pickup service can also get what is called their “hundredweight” service, which is a service designed for less than 1000 pounds at substantial discounts over their normal shipping rates. It is a bulk service. If you aren’t a daily pickup customer, find a local business who is and piggy-back on their service to get the reduced rates – many businesspeople will help out, and if not, throw in dinner for 2 at a local restaurant of their choice. Their site is at This service is not well publicized, why I don’t know. Check the rates though against normal UPS rates – once they quoted a price higher with hundredweight than a normal shipping program. Current url is at:

4) Lastly, try a commercial freight company. The ABA (American Bookseller’s Association) has bulk purchasing arrangements with various companies to help with shipping large quantities of books. They used to use Freight Management Systems (we had good luck with them, 865-922-7491 for free estimates), but their website now notes a program with Fedex Ground and also PartnerShip (1-800-599-2902, ext. 2462). There are various membership requirements, credit forms, etc but it is worth it if you ship large quantities, even one time. Check ABA’s website programs: We’ve done this 3 times with large lots of books purchased cross country. You can also talk to moving companies, who often have “end of truck” rates where they will fill up a truck going somewhere with your books. Lastly, if you have friends in the local trucker’s community check with them – sometimes a trucker can’t find a load for a return trip and will take your load to lose less money on the return trip – this method is catch-as-catch-can and I’d make sure I was working with reputable folks.

When packing books for these services, the same rules apply as sending regular books through the mail – most of these bulk services just treat your boxes as heavy stuff, not precious books. Pack books flat (not spine up or you’ll break the bindings), spines toward each other, bubble wrap, and at LEAST an inch of packaging between the books and the edge of the box, or every bump to the box will translate to damaged books and lost revenue for you. Then, put glassine tape around the box in all three dimenisions so if the seams happen to burst at least the box stays together. More smaller boxes are better than fewer larger boxes, just because the shock of movement or dropping of the package translates first to the box and then to the books. Insist on this packaging style if you aren’t packaging the boxes – I once had 20 boxes sent with no padding at all, save a single sheet of bubble wrap on the top of the box – lots of broken bindings. Pay for it if you have to – you’ll end up with lots of usable bubblewrap later for reuse.

If you have the time and ability to do it, package the books, and then place them on a pallet and shrinkwrap it. You’ll need a loading dock to get them on and off the truck in that case. You can drop off books at the local freight office, and they can often shrinkwrap the books on a pallet for you. This saves you pickup charges, and saves work for the trucking company, which they appreciate. It also means the books won’t shift in shipment, and receive minimal handling. If you don’t have a loading dock on the receiving end, $20 and a smile to the trucker will usually get some understanding getting them off the pallet and into the garage. Make sure when asking for quotes on prices that you note if dropoff/pickup is in a residential area – these trucks are often quite large and it affects the pricing as well. When working with the freight companies, remember that they are used to working with well-equipped back docks at manufacturing companies – be sure to check before showing up with a bunch of boxes and expecting them to shrinkwrap for you. When all else fails, smile and look flustered. Most people are human and will help out the poor, confused, courteous bookseller. grin 🙂

Hope this helps somewhat. If anyone has more ideas I’d love to hear about them. Sincerely,

John Kuenzig, Bookseller

Thanks to all our contributors, especially John with his in-depth report.

And, as usual, special thanks to Lynn and the Bibliophile List. Please send your book questions to: and we will try to have them answered for you.

Jean S. McKenna – Books (Editor Q & A) Chairman Education Committee.

And, an unanswered question that perhaps one of you can help with!

Hi all,

I hope someone can help me with this strange case. I sold a large lot of beautiful Japanese quilting magazines on eBay. They went off to the purchaser in two boxes, both of which arrived on the same day. One box contained the Japanese magazines; the other contained a large lot of second world war magazines. I have never had any second world war magazines so this was not a case of my having mixed up mailing labels or some such. The only thing I can figure is that the box was opened at customs and the contents switched (inadvertently, I hope) with those of another box being opened nearby.

Needless to say, the purchaser is keen to have the magazines she paid for and I am keen not to have to refund her money. She has send me pics of the box and contents and it is definitely my box and wrappings but NOT my contents. I thought perhaps I might locate the buyer of the war magazines in the eBay finished auctions listings but have not yet found a comparable sale. Now, I’m asking for your help and your wisdom. Have you ever heard of such a thing and, if so, what do you suggest I do next? And, have any of you recently sold a batch of magazines including History of the Second World War (Marshall Cavendish) and The Battle Staff – Smart Book. I figure if I can find that sale, I will find the missing Japanese magazines.

With fingers crossed, I am Frances Curry Only the Best Books




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