For collectors of vintage video games, strategy guides are some of the most treasured items around. Originally sold alongside new game releases, these books contained hints, maps, artwork, developer interviews and other precious content that enhanced the gaming experience.
Today, finding retro game guides in good condition can be a challenge. Their age, paper quality and frequent use often shows in the form of wear, tears, stains or missing pages. However, with the right archival care, you can stop further deterioration and keep your guides preserved for decades to come.
In this article, we’ll explore professional techniques used by museums, libraries and book collectors to clean, handle and store old strategy guides. Follow these best practices and your collection will stay in the best shape possible.
Carefully Cleaning Retro Game Guides
The first step is a careful cleaning to remove dirt, residue and oils that build up over time. You’ll need:
- White vinyl erasers
- Soft brush
- Microfibre cloths
- Distilled water
- Cotton swabs
Gently brush the cover and pages to loosen debris. Use swabs and distilled water to lightly dampen tougher stains and carefully blot them away. Erase any stubborn marks on the cover with a white vinyl eraser.
Always allow time to completely air dry after cleaning before returning your guide to storage. Harsh rubbing or chemical cleaners can permanently damage delicate paper. Take a cautious approach.
Proper Handling Techniques
Collectors should always use clean hands when touching vintage strategy guides. Wash hands thoroughly and consider archival gloves if needed.
When picking up a guide, support both the front and back covers fully to avoid unnecessary flexing of the spine. Keep books closed when carrying them.
Turn pages by gently pinching the top corner and turning one page at a time. Never lick fingers for grip and avoid writing on or folding pages.
Repairing Minor Damage
If your retro guide has minor tears, you can repair them with archival mending tape applied to the inside margin. This transparent tape will reinforce the page while allowing the content to still be read.
For loose pages, use wheat starch paste to reglue them back into the spine. Consult an archivist first, as regluing can be tricky if the original binding has failed.
Storing and Displaying Guides
Always store vintage game guides upright like books on a shelf, avoiding stacking or laying them flat. This keeps pressure off the spine and covers.
Ideally, they should be kept out of direct sunlight in rooms with climate control to prevent extremes of heat, cold or humidity.
For protective boxes, use acid-free cardboard and tissue paper. You can find archival supplies designed specifically for documents and books. Avoid plastic bags or non-archival containers.
For display, only open a guide fully for the brief time you are reading it, then close it again. Limit open time to a few hours at most, and avoid leaving guides open indefinitely. This puts strain on the binding.
With some care and attention, your old video game strategy guides can be kept in excellent condition as historical documents. Let these preservation tips guide you in properly caring for your retro gaming collection.