As a former bookseller and lifelong book collector, I have spent countless hours removing stickers from book covers. If you’ve ever bought a used (or new) book with a sticker on the cover, I’m sure you know how frustrating it can be to remove! So, I wanted to share some tricks I’ve learned over the years that make removing stickers from book covers much easier (and more successful).
How to Remove Book Cover Stickers (Step by Step)
It might be a price sticker, or a celebrity book club sticker. Maybe it’s ugly, or it covers up part of the book’s lovely cover. Or, maybe you’re trying to sell the book.
Whatever your reason for wanting to remove it, there are a few tricks to make the process easier (and avoid leaving sticker gunk behind!).
One caveat: some types of book covers won’t do as well with removing stickers. It depends on the material used, or the “finish” of the cover.
For example, thin paper covers that feel soft and velvety (like some hardcover vintage books have) are prone to come right off with the sticker. Attempting to remove the sticker can do more harm than good.
Be extra cautious if you attempt to remove a sticker in these cases. Or, you can choose to leave it on if it isn’t worth the risk to you.
Now, here’s the best way I’ve found for removing stickers from book covers:
1. Heat the sticker with a hair dryer.
Applying heat to the sticker will help soften the adhesive material below it, making it easier to peel off. Additionally, any sticky residue it leaves behind will be easier to remove.
Start by holding the hair dryer about half an inch away from the sticker. Blow hot air over it for at least one minute.
Be sure to move the hair dryer around so the hot air warms the entire surface of the sticker.
2. Use your fingernail (or another thin object) to loosen the sticker all the way around the perimeter.
Instead of trying to peel the sticker all the way up from one side, I recommend loosening it all the way around the edges first.
This avoids tearing the sticker, which can leave part of the sticker behind and make it even more difficult to remove.
Do this gently, taking care not to scratch the book cover underneath.
Don’t have a long fingernail? Try using the edge of a credit card or a butter knife. Again, be gentle! Patience is key here.
3. Start peeling.
Next, slowly start peeling the sticker up on one side, until you feel resistance. Then, move to a different area of the perimeter. Repeat until just the center of the sticker remains.
Lastly, peel the sticker towards the center until it comes free.
What if there’s still sticker residue left on my book afterward?
If there’s still residue left after removing the sticker, start by rubbing it – somewhat roughly – with your thumb (not the nail). This will also help if a papery layer of the sticker itself was left behind.
If it doesn’t all come off, try a rubber eraser next.
For more stubborn adhesive, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or Goo Gone – along with a cloth or rag – to gently remove any excess residue. (Be careful – depending on the material of the book cover, this can cause the colors to bleed.)
This works best just after heating the residue (using a hair dryer), so it’s already softened.
What are your thoughts on book cover stickers? Have you had to remove any before, or do you not mind them? Feel free to share any extra tips you have in the comments!