Sometimes I wonder if the stores realize that the price tags and labels (the sticky, gluey kind) they put on books and other items are such a hassle for their consumers and can often damage book coverings (etc)? Or maybe they just don't care.

Anyway -- I have many books with icky stickers on them (which lessens the visual quality of them) and I intend to take them off, but from past experiences, I know that many times I can't get the entire sticker off and it leaves lots of gunky residue behind that is hard to take off. Is there a better way to do it? I know that scrubbing it with water is good... But when it's a book cover -- that's not the best approach because you ruin the cover.

How to peel off a sticky price tag or label on a book or item COMPLETELY without the gunky residue?

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    Their priority is making it impossible to swap labels with a cheaper item.
    – Hobbes
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 13:18
  • You can buy sticker removal sprays, which even work on plastic stickers where most things wouldn't penetrate... but that's a product not a hack, so I'm not posting as an answer. I guess the other thing is... who still puts stickers on things? I haven't seen one in years, they all just scan the barcode these days.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 15:32
  • @Tetsujin, it happens all the time with books, especially if there is a sale going on and they mark down the price! Also, if you just go to "used" book store. It's on all sorts of things. You'll start seeing them more and more now that they are on your mind. hahaha. But yeah, I hope they are fading out, and one day gone. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 23:08
  • Why didn't a razor blade and a mild solvent (there's even specific products for this, like Goo Gone) work for you? What about the stuff you found when you searched for "how to remove price tag from a book cover"? Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 15:39
  • 1
    DON'T FORGET TO COMPLAIN about it to the store that uses this policy. If you find it unacceptable, others probably do too. Speak up.
    – Stan
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 19:53

6 Answers 6


Peel off what you can, you can use a rubber to get rid of the rest of the label or spray with Mr Sheen or any spray furnitue polish. This will get rid of the glue residue.


Use a hair dryer and pull perpendicular. It softens the glue so that it stays on the sticker instead of the book. Glue residue can be removed with white spirits.

However, some glues are really hard and some stickers are really fragile, so YMMV.

  • 6
    For older people like me, "YMMV" stands for "your mileage may vary". (I Googled it.) Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 18:01
  • I'm not familiar with "white spirits" (I know this is a dumb question since everyone else seems to know what it is. eeeek), would you mind explaining it to me if it's a brand name or a general type of product? Also, how do you do it so as to not damage the cover of the book??? Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 22:59
  • @pills: As in the answer below: white spirit. White spirit is an oil based solvent and should not dissolve printing inks (acetone probably will), and should evaporate completely without leaving an oily mark. Of course, test on a invisible part of the book first.
    – Mrten
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 15:31
  • 1
    Fwiw I actually have better results peeling parallel to the surface (like a full 180 degree angle), but I've found the angle doesn't matter as much as making sure it comes off in one piece and "catching" rips asap. Btw, "Goo Gone" is a product specifically designed for removing sticker gunk and is also an oil-based solvent (with some orange extract). Test on an unimportant book cover first. Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 15:38

The easiest and cleanest way I have found for removing sticky residue is to "dab" the sticky side of a piece of tape against the sticky residue. It sticks to the tape and comes right off.

This doesn't work as well though when there is still some papery stuff on top of the sticky residue.


I generally use a razor blade (the disposable kind you put in a box knife or scraper) and gently get it under the sticker while working not to damage the cover of the book. This cuts the adhesive very well, and the rest can be cleaned up chemically. This works best if you can hold the book tightly so it's entirely flat without any of the natural bowing from the paper.


I usually remove sticker residue with white spirit. Dip a tissue or Q-tip in white spirit, and gently rub off the residue. Dry the cover immediately afterward with another tissue. There's some risk with this approach (the white spirit can attack the cover), but after dozens of books treated like this my success rate is over 95%.

I use a thin knife (medical scalpel in my case) to get under the edge of the sticker, this does less damage than trying to get your fingernails under the edge of the sticker.


GOJO Hand cleaner or any hand cleaner in a jar that's based on petroleum will dissolve the sticker's glue. It's safe and easy to work with and the sticker falls off without leaving a trace once it has soaked in it for a while.

  • Would that work on a paperback book?
    – Stephie
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 16:50
  • 1
    If you don't let it soak into the pages, put it ONLY on the sticker, and promptly clean up any residue with alcohol (being very careful not to let the alcohol soak the pages or ink either) then yes. Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 21:27

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