How would you react to the following situations?
You give one of your books (a paperback, and one that you like) to a friend. How would you feel (and what would you do) if you saw them doing any of the following?
Licking their fingers right before they turn every page.
Keeping their place by folding one of the page corners down and then closing the book on it.
Opening the book as wide as it will go (so the spine cracks) and/or folding one half behind the other.
Writing in the book for any reason.
1 seems to bring about the most difference in opinions. I know some who aren’t bothered by 1 at all, yet others find it one of the most disgusting things people can do to a book.
I’d rate 2 and 3 among the worst things one can do to a book, though, with 3 being just barely in the lead for “Worst Way to Abuse a Book, Ever” IMO.
When I let someone else have a book, I don’t expect to ever see it again. They can do what they want with it.
In order of severity:
3, 4, 2, 1.
Breaking the spine virtually renders the book useless for all practical purposes. Pages can easily fall out and get lost.
Writing in the book is damaging and damned rude, if it’s not their book (textbooks can be an exception, in which the writing/underlining/highlighting can be useful for the next person who rents the book).
When I was a kid, I dogeared pages, but quickly got out of the habit. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t damage the book as much as breaking the spine does.
Licking fingers and turning pages isn’t that bad, IMO, especially if I don’t know about it. I’m not eating off the book.
Okay, I meant one that you’re lending them, then…or one they’re reading only while at your house (that you intend to keep or get back).
If it is a loan then they are behaving very badly (although I think #1 is a lot less serious than the other transgressions).
If it is a gift, it is none of your business how they treat it (unless, perhaps, they ostentatiously throw it in the trash, unread).
Gift, I think less of them and don’t gift them any books in the future.
Loan, I chew them out about it and make it known they will never see another one of my books. But that’s never happened to me before. I’ve only had lent books damaged twice in my life, and both times the other party was good enough to buy me a new copy and keep the damaged copy.
Who’s a naughty book! thump Can I rub your pages?
I don’t loan books. Ever. Any book I give to someone to read I never expect to get back. The only exceptions are classroom reference books that I *might *loan to a deserving student for a particular project. Those had better come back in the same condition they left, or what happened to the book happens to the student!
But my personal library goes nowhere.
The first thing I do with a new book is loosen up the spine. I remember being taught that in elementary school – methodically spread the book open at several different places until it will stay flat on the desk.
Your other points, too, I consider to be using a book, not abusing it. I wouldn’t write in or bend over the corners of pages of a book that didn’t belong to me but most of my books show definite signs of being used.
I don’t mind my books being well-used (books are for reading, not sitting on a bookshelf looking pretty), but not abused. Breaking the spine and writing in them is over the line into abuse.
I had someone do 2 and 4 a few years back and it kinda pissed me off. I couldn’t imagine borrowing a book and then doing that. I doubt I’d notice 1 and 3 isn’t good, but I’d get over it.
I didn’t say anything, but I would not have loaned another book to this guy. (He moved shortly thereafter so it is moot.)
I think paperbacks are meant to be tossed, bent, annotated and licked (if you’re into that sort of thing). Now, I wouldn’t go doing that to another person’s book, but if it happened to mine I wouldn’t freak out.
If, however, that happened to one of my image-heavy art/architecture books…well, I still wouldn’t freak out, but only because I’d be too busy passed out on the floor from mental anguish.
I assume when I loan a book to someone I won’t get it back so getting a dogeared, spine cracked book back is more than I expected in the first place. (Books that I really care about don’t get lent very often or to many people.) I have a lot of books that I read and enjoyed and probably will never read again and sharing things I love with other people is one of my favorite things to do.
I am very unforgiving of any kind of book abuse, which is why I rarely lend books. I remember when I was in high school I used to lend books to my best friend at the time, and I gave her a laundry list of things she must not ever do with it if she ever expected to borrow any others. She was the only one I ever lent books to, because she followed my rules. (My spouse is an exception–he is kind to books as well.)
In order of horror, I’d say 3, 4, 2, 1. But none of them are allowable in my books.
If I give a book to someone they can do whatever they like with it–it’s theirs now. But I don’t have to watch.
My bookshelves at home for the most part look like a bookstore. I am very careful when I read a book (hardback or paper) and they are generally pristine when I finish with them. The only exception is books I’ve bought used that are already pre-abused. I’ll sometimes be a little less careful with those since they’ve already been “deflowered.”
1 is just a wierd habit I don’t get. Doesn’t hurt the book as far I can see, which is the important bit.
2, depends. On the book and on how big the dog ear is. I dog ear pages all the time, but only the paperbacks, never the good hardback copies. And only ever small bits of the corner. Just enough to find your place. It’s when a full half the page gets bent that I start to get bent.
3, that’s a no-no. I expect a brand new book at least if the spine is cracked.
4. All the above are irritants. They suck, but I can live. 4 however pisses me off. You never write in a book. Ever, not just a loan. That sort of thing can cause me to contemplate violence. I really hate it.
As others have said, it depends on whether it was a loan or a gift. If it was a gift, it’s their book and they can do whatever they want with it, including all of the things the OP listed. If it was a loan, they should treat it with the respect due to borrowed property, which precludes everything on the list.
I’d say “awww fuck dude!” to the guy and never lend him a book again. That’d be about it.
I kinda like it when people write in a book. Its kinda fun to see what past readers were thinking about when they were reading, assuming the writing is in the margins and doesn’t obscure the books pictures or text.
So I’d actually encourage 4). 1) and 2) don’t really bother me. 3) might bug me if it wrecks the spine so that the pages fall out.
2 is a pet peeve of mine. I’m sure my students think I’m insane, but I’ve stopped class to make a student un-dogear a library book that he just put away and make an impromptu bookmark instead. If its their book they can do what they want, but dogearing a library book makes me rather annoyed.
However, I do write in my text books, but I’d never write in a book loaned to me.
Any of those things would get a talk about why it shouldn’t have happened and loans to that person would cease.
Many books are only ever published in paperback, and I have more than a few good books where that is the case. I’d hate to see something irreplaceable ruined because of someone’s careless treatment.
The worst thing to me is 3. Once you break a book’s spine the damage is always visible on the bookcase. I have books over ten years old, read multiple times that still look shop new.
I’ve also been known to rub out additions people have added to books, but only if it changes the meaning of the text, not notes or underlinings.
Dog ears I just straighten out and move on (I also use book tape to fix tears).
Licking and turning, well, I do that myself.
Having said that number three is the worst sin to me, my mother does it. Put a book in her hands and the very first thing she does is crack that spine in two or three places so she can fold it right over.
Whenever I lend her a book, I just take a deep breath, pull on my big girl panties and try not to wince. Her shared opinion of the content is worth more to me than a bent cardboard cover.