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Those pesky stickers on the covers of books

9th July 2020

Those pesky stickers on the covers of booksThose pesky stickers on the covers of books…

We have all been there. We buy a lovely new book with a sticker, advertising something that maybe isn’t so relevant to us personally, but it’s enough to raise one’s ire. A sticker spoils the cover and the book. Then, you go to try and remove it so that you have a pristine book jacket but what happens? That is often where the trouble starts. The stickers are not meant to be removed, they are meant to be there for eternity. So don’t go removing them, even if they lift at the edges! Oh, go on, then let’s have a go!

I certainly don’t want a sticker on my newly purchased book. My method has always been to use acetone (nail varnish remover to the uninitiated) because I used that in my training as a fine art conservator (where there are lots of adhesion and paper problems to tackle). But the glues have moved on and often there is a miserable streaking and grooving that looks equally objectionable.

Reader Elisabeth Hurley made a good point that It’s down to the tack level, pointing out that low tack stickers cost more. So opting for the hard-to-remove stickers is low budget (have you ever been to TK Maxx and tried to remove the stickers from their items (not in the store obviously, you are not a shoplifter after all)? They are truly cheap and tacky – no pun intended – and impossible to remove).

Those pesky stickers on the covers of books

We turned to our readers and supporters for their input and they came up with some great suggestions. We share them with you here and it as at your own risk whether you try them:

  • Bane of my life, says Allana Turner! Depends on how firmly stuck it is but usually very gently with my nail – scared to use any product on a book.. easing off with nail
  • Carefully remove as much as will come off by itself. Then use a small amount of furniture polish and a soft cloth to remove the rest.
    It’s how the professionals do it!
    It won’t work on every cover, matt finishes can be more stubborn and publishers stickers are more stubborn than shop ones as, presumably, they get machine applied rather than by hand. (Martin Brailli)
  • WD 40 or wet wipes. (Elizabeth Hurley)
  • Claire Ellen says slow and steady wins the race. If any residue, a tiny bit of wd40 or washing up liquid on a kitchen towel to remove.
  • Does depend how long they’ve been stuck on though as fresh ones are more pliable. The longer it’s been on some chemical reaction happens over time with the adhesive. A little bit of white spirit on cotton wool tends to do the trick (Ruth Shedwick)
  • White spirit (Andrea Smith)
  • Bookseller Susan Cook recommends eucalyptus oil, which is what the professionals mainly use. She goes on to say that Martin Brailli made many good points…remove as much as you can first, then soak a tissue with the oil and work over the sticker. Older stickers dry out and are much harder to get off, most store stickers are low tack and designed to come off easily, and yes, the publisher stickers are the worst to get off! But DO NOT use any eucalyptus oil on matt covers! Glossy is fine but not matt.
  • Scotch Sticker and Marker Remover 6042 works a treat (several contributors)
  • My friend worker in a bookshop and they always used spray furniture polish (JP)
  • I usually rub the area with some olive oil. It works (C de G)
  • I use baby wipes (Lorena(
  • The pink stuff paste. Removes it without a trace and real quick (Lisa George Welch)
  • I use Aloe Vera Gel. Might need to soak it in a bit for the stubborn ones. Also very useful as a book cover cleaner!  (Andy Hedgcock)
  • Or heat the stickers gently with a blow dryer (Kelly Kennedy)

So, will you report back and let us know what works for you?

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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