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Friday, May 18, 2012

Discussion: Book Borrowing Etiquette

Have you ever lent out one of your favorite books, only to never get it back? What about that time you let a friend borrow your copy of Harry Potter and they returned it with a water stain on it? Or that time you lent out your entire Sookie Stackhouse Series and it took them more than a year to return them all? We've all had that experience that makes us a little bit jaded when it comes to lending out books. I know I have. The thing is, how do you politely tell a friend that you have some ground rules when it comes to borrowing? How do you tell a friend who has proven themselves unreliable when it comes to borrowing that they can't borrow anything anymore? As crazy as I am when it comes to my books, I try to be understanding and a little less controlling about my stash, but my books are my babies and I need people to follow certain rules when it comes to borrowing them.

So, as a fun discussion today I thought I'd share some book borrowing etiquette tips, as well as some rules I simply follow myself out of respect for those that are nice enough to let me borrow their books.

1. Give my books back in one piece.
I can't tell you how many times I've gotten my books back without a dust jacket, with pages torn, with the cover bent, and all other sorts of horrors. This is one reason why I rarely lend out my signed copies anymore. I'm sorry, but I pay good money for the books on my shelf and I'm expecting you to treat them with the same respect you'd treat your own books. If you don't treat your books with much respect then don't borrow my books. EVER. For this reason, when I lend out hard cover books I always take the dust jacket off before letting you go home with it.

I understand that accidents happen. So don't eat around my books. If you get stains on the pages I'm going to be pissed. Don't drink anything around them. Seriously, I've gotten books back that have had WATER spilled on them and the pages are completely warped from water damage. I get it, it's just water, what kind of damage can it do? TONS. If you're not careful it can ruin something that isn't even yours.

Don't bend the spine. Don't dog-ear the pages. Don't tear the pages. Don't bend the cover. Don't lose the dust jacket. I know, when you're reading a paperback book it can be hard not to bend the spine. But those creases that happen when you're not careful drive me crazy. I'm going to put the book back on my shelf and have to stare at those horrible, ugly crease marks whenever I face my shelf. And it's going to remind me of how you RUINED that gorgeous cover.

2. If you ruin/lose it, replace it.
You borrowed my book because you didn't want to buy it yourself. That's fine, but if you lose it or you ruin it, you should be a decent human being and buy me a new copy. I actually had a co-worker who borrowed a book from me, got fired, and disappeared. She never returned my calls, texts, or anything and I never saw my book again. I also had a friend who moved while she was borrowing my books and lost them during the move. She then proceeded to tell me that she never had the books in the first place. You did, I wrote it down.

If you ruin my book, I'm going to ask you to buy me a new one. I'm not going to beat around the bush, I'm going to say, "Hey, you spilled coffee on my favorite quote in The Hunger Games!! You better order me a new copy RIGHT NOW. You can keep this nasty one." Seriously, I've said crap like this before. Just because it's a book, and not something more expensive doesn't mean I'm not expecting it back. I had a friend who spilled water on a book and immediately went out and bought me a new copy. She was very apologetic and didn't even tell me about ruining it until she had a replacement. That is called BEING RESPONSIBLE. She doesn't get to borrow books anymore, but still :)

3. Read them in a timely manner.
If it's going to take you longer than 1-2 weeks to read a book you're borrowing than hold off on it unless we've talked about it. I admit, sometimes I hold on to borrowed books for longer than 2 weeks because life gets in the way. But I always, ALWAYS, let them know that I'm going to have it for a bit before I even have it in my hands. I need to set up that understanding so no one gets mad. If I tell you I've already read the book and you can hold on for it a bit, then fine. If I tell you I haven't read it and I need to soon then you better have it read and returned in about 2 weeks. I have no qualms about asking for books back before you've read them.

Unless I have other commitments, I always push borrowed books to the top of my reading list and I'm expecting you to do the same. If I ask you if you if you've read the books yet, take the hint and get to reading. I'm getting impatient at having my books far away from me for so long. I'm not going to lie, your inability to give my books back in a timely manner will effect our friendship.

4. Don't ask to borrow something if we haven't talked about it before.
I've had so many people I don't know well (or at all) ask me to borrow books and it just makes things awkward for everyone involved. I had someone ask me on Formspring if they could borrow a bunch of my ARCs. I wanted to respond with, "I'm sorry, WHO ARE YOU?" Usually, if someone hasn't offered to let me borrow something I won't ask. I don't know how attached other people are to their books, but it just makes me uncomfortable asking to borrow things when I don't have an established relationship with someone. My recommendation is to wait until someone offers to let you borrow whatever you want from them, or if they respond to your cries of request on Twitter. I've been known to beg at Twitter to borrow things, but I never ask people directly. I just put it out there... "Hey, anyone have a copy of Insignia they wanna let me borrow? Please?? Pretty please??" This way, no one feels obligated, no one feels uncomfortable, everyone is all good!

Obviously, these are just my personal opinions and experiences, but I think a lot of people feel the same way. I'd love to hear about your experiences and some of your book borrowing etiquette tips!

36 comments:

  1. I am SO GLAD there's someone else who dislikes lending books out... and has ground rules for doing this! I actually even have issues lending my housemate books - and we live together!

    Thank you for making me feel better about how much I hate lending my books out!

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    1. HAHA! It's not that I dislike it, it's just that I have a code of conduct when it comes to borrowing. I feel like people should be a lot more responsible when it comes to stuff like this! Especially in the bookish community!

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    2. jeez, just don't lend your books out. Books are meant to be read and worn, not to sit on shelf for the rest of your life. A book with a few scuffs and dog ears has character.

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  2. Ha, I couldn't agree more AND that's why I never lend a book. Ever. And admittedly I'm probably even worse than you are, because I already get a heart attack when someone creases the spine on a paperback (yep, my books look like new even the ones I read). If I give a book away then for good (eg I read it once and it's not a keeper I might gift it to a friend or sell it, etc).

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    1. I don't mind if my books look like they've been read, but when I let somone borrow something that looks basically brand new and they return it with creases everywhere and were obviously bending the cover back I'm going to get pissed. I want things returned in the same condition you got them in!

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  3. This is why I only lend my books to the fellow book lovers, who feel the same way about them. Casually reading co-workers and neighbors need not apply.

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    1. HAHA. I'll usually let my bffs borrow stuff, but only if I know they're really responsible and will return them in one piece.

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  4. Yeah... I just recently lent out my Hunger Games trilogy to my friend and she sent me a text "Is it okay if I bend the cover?"
    UH NO. NO IT IS NOT. I realize since it's a paperback it's a little harder to read (I guess...? I don't have trouble wanting to bend covers but all her PBs are like that so whatever) but no no no!!

    I also always shove bookmarks in books when I lend them out. I don't bend my pages, so you don't bend my pages either!

    Some of my books I don't really mind, but my new books or books I spent my own money on...I cringe thinking of people ruining them. I typically let people borrow books for a month or so, depending on the person. I actually took my HG trilogy back because after a month she was still "on like chapter four", nah. You clearly don't want to read it or you'd be almost done with the series.

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    1. If someone asked me if they could bend the cover I would be like, "GIVE THAT BACK NOW!" That is just totally unacceptable!!!

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  5. I once lent a copy of a book to someone and after 2 weeks I was told the book was still sitting, with her magazines, under the coffee table. I asked for it back. LOL She obviously had no intentions of reading it anytime soon and I was really anxious I would never get it back. I only lend books out now to my friends who are big readers. I've had a couple friends want to borrow an ARC I have won and I am fine with passing those around to them. They read them right away and mail back in the same condition. I definitely would never lend out anything signed. I'd probably just point them in the direction of the nearest library. LOL Great post!

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    1. Yeah I've lent out a couple signed books because they were ARCs and weren't coming out for a LOOONG time, but now I'm not too fond of doing that. Either way, I like to keep my books in the same condition they were in when I bought them :)

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  6. THANK YOU for the one-two week thing, I always get so confused when people borrow books and a month later they still haven't gotten to it, why not hold off borrowing it at all at that point? (unless I told them YOU MUST READ THIS and threw it at them, I guess that's a bit different)

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    1. Right?! As a blogger I don't borrow too many books because I know my review schedule is already so crammed that it's hard for me to push something to the top of my TBR, but when I do borrow something it's when I'm in a reading lull and I know I have the time to read it quickly!

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  7. I'll be honest, I threaten them! With my books or DVD's, whatever, I look them in the eye and say in my most intimidating tone that if anything happens to my stuff, they will regret it. Harsh? I guess so. But I always get my stuff back in a timely fashion and it's never damaged. :-)

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    1. HAHA! I threaten people too!!! And I send tons of emails and texts like, WHERE IS MY BOOK???

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  8. I get really stressed when I borrow books. I don't want the kids around me when I am handling them. I even hold them more delicately since it isn't mine. But I think so long as they replace the book I wouldn't have a problem lending to them. I don't like damage like dog-earing or things like that. But mostly it is the time issue. I try to be understanding since I can't always get books back the very next day. But when you have had it so long you have forgotten there is an issue. I hate to beg for my books. I just lent out a couple of books and all of your horror stories are making me nervous. It has been three weeks and I have no word.

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    1. I'm way more careful with other people's books than my own. Usually the book won't leave my house and I won't eat near it. I'll read it in bed, or on the porch, but I won't put it in my purse or anything. I'm sure your books will be fine!!

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  9. I sent Anna and the French Kiss to a friend, who lent it to her friend (who was also a friend of mine) and that "friend" BENT THE SPINE. the *hardcover* SPINE is broken. I didn't even realize it was possible to break a hardcover spine, but oh, it happened, and I was upset. When I sent Anna, it was in good condition! the dust jacket was shiny and no stains or sticky spots on it; the pages were clean; and it was just a nice looking book. And now I cry every time I look at it because that "friend" ruined my book. And I will never loan her a book again, it's ridiculous.

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    1. If someone legitimately broke the spine of one of my hardcovers I'd make them buy me a new one. That is just freakin ridiculous. How do you even do that???

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  10. BRAVO!!!

    I agree a thousand times with all of these!

    Just last week I had a complete stranger email me off of my blog and asked me to borrow an entire series! I'm sorry, WHAT?!?! I was in shock that someone would even ask! (Besides, they were Kindle books, so it's not like I have them to loan out - but she sent me her mailing address and everything. I about died.)

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    1. I've had people do that too, with ARCs I get. I'm like, I know they're only ARCs but still, I don't know who the heck you are! It's so weird.

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  11. I love this post!! Whenever I lend out my books, I have a mantra that includes everything you've said, like "Don't dog-ear the pages, don't eat near my book, don't bend the cover..." and on and on. I make it very clear to people when I lend them a book that the book really means a lot to me. I once had a friend of mine, who had this dog that always chewed up books. I had her promise not to read around her dog, and to be super careful with my book. Well, long story short, her dog totally chewed up the book I lent her. But, she sweetly went out and bought a new copy ASAP and also bought me another book that was on my wishlist. She knew how much my books meant to me, so I really appreciate what she did, even though I rarely let her borrow books anymore. ;)

    Anyways, great post! I should print out this post and give it to each person who borrows a book from me. ;)

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

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    1. That's really awesome that your friend did that after damaging a book. I think I'd let her off the hook if it happened once, but if it ever happened again we probably wouldn't be friends anymore LOL!

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  12. I AGREE WITH ALL OF THIS. One time, I lent out a book to my friend, and her little brother drew with crayon inside of it. I have nothing against little children, but WHY WOULD YOU LET CRAYONS AND A LITTLE CHILD WITHIN TEN FEET OF A BOOK? Or, more importantly to me, my book. I mean, I have a 4 year old nephew of my own and I love him so flipping much. But that does not mean I let him touch my books. Ever. No matter how cute he is when he picks up his own little books and pretends to read them like me. Actually, he KNOWS not to touch my books. I've taught him that. He stand next to wherever I'm sitting when I have a book, points, and says "Jessica's book." (Well it sounds more like "Ca-ke-ca's booo," but still.) And then after he tells me that it is my book, he proceeds to inform everyone in the house. So cute! Anyways, my point: I am so cautious with my books, so if someone's going to borrow one of my books, they should be too. I believe it is called "common courtesy?" Or maybe "Common sense." Both would suffice.

    Another thing, as far as WHO I let borrow my books, there are certain people that have never borrowed my books, but I just will not let borrow my books. It's harder to be approved to borrow a book if I know you super well, or in person, because I know your tendencies. If I eat lunch with you and see that you don't wash your hands after you eat, you won't get to touch my books. Now, they may have wiped off with a napkin or something or--ew--licked their fingers "clean," but that kind of thing just grosses me out.

    And I'm not a fan of people randomly asking me to borrow books either. I will offer if I want you to borrow it. I have specific people that I am comfortable letting borrow books. Usually, it's mostly people I know care about books as much as I do that I let borrow them. Well, that and my brother. But I watch HIM like a hawk when he's reading my books. He's good to them. Pretty much, if I offer to let you borrow a book, it's a compliment. ;)

    I am so strict it's sad (well, sad to other people, not me) when it comes to my books, but what can I say? I love them.

    ♥Jessica(:

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  14. I am so anal with my books. I only lend to people who I know will return them the same way I lent them. I had all first edition Harry Potter books that I lent the first 4 to a work friend and then she quit, never returned my calls or anything. I almost cried.

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  16. I don't really have ground rules when it comes to lending books out (apart for the common sense ones: don't break the spines, let you dog chew on it, drop it in a mud puddle). But, then again, the majority of my friends either aren't big readers or are my co-workers (I work in a bookstore) and they know how to treat books. Other than that, the only people I really lend my books to are my boyfriend and my mom.

    Back in high school I had two bad experiences with lending out books. lol oddly enough, it was the same book: The Da Vinci Code (judge away!). A friend had borrowed the hardback and I never saw it again. One of my favorite teachers went on vacation and borrowed my paperback and must have dropped it in the ocean because when I got it back it was horribly water-damaged. However, when she returned it she included money for a new copy, so I wasn't too peeved.

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  17. I'm super picky about who I lend my books to, being only people who I'm absolutely positive are going to treat them well. My time limit for borrowing books is about a month, because most of the books I lend out I've already read or are not top priority. I've, thankfully, had only a couple incidents where people went over the limit. In one of them, the girl lost my book and didn't get me a replacement until 6 mo later. Another time I lent out an 8-book series, which the guy deliberately kept from me for 4 mo, because he knows I get anxious over my books being gone. The most recent time was with my cousin, who borrowed around 10 books, and just stuck them on her tbr shelf. Fortunately, she lives with me so I just had to go over to her room and ask for them back.

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  18. Love it! Do you label or tag your books when you loan them out? I would love to hear ideas on how people do this. I like my books (even those I have read more than once) to look brand new so I hesitate to mark them with my name.

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  19. If it would bother you to lose it or get it back in less than pristine condition, then don't loan it! Send them to a library to borrow it.

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  20. I agree with all of this!

    I borrowed a HP book from my mother in-law. Hubs brought it home for me. When I saw it I was in shock. The dust jacket was ripped, the spin was totally broken & pages were falling out of it. I looked at the hubs, started crying & asked, "What did she DO to it?!" Needless to say, she won't be borrowing any of my books!

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  21. Love this post! You said it best your books are like your babies!
    It's so bad I won't even let my own mom borrow my books anymore. She took my copy of the first Sookie Stackhouse book a year ago and I never got it back and I still can't find it in her house. She didn't even read it but lost it somehow. :(
    I'm always the most nervous when it's the first time a person borrows one of my books. I lend most of my books to a family friend's daughter whose 13 and I was so nervous the first time she borrowed a book but she returned it in great condition. So I'm a lot more comfortable with sharing my books with her after that but regardless I still get a bit nervous every time one of my books leaves my hands. However the books I borrow from her always have the spines broken and the pages are ripped and written on and I'm like OMG how could you treat a book like this?

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  22. I TOTALLY understand! I only have one friend who borrows my books, and I trust her, because I told if she damaged one of my books, she would have to buy me a new copy, she completely agreed. BUT, she has never ever DAMAGED it :D

    But, I did have a bad experience with a 'friend' (well, acquaintance :S). I let her borrow one of my favorite books, and I get it back damaged and with NAIL POLISH?!?!?!? I mean, come ON! AND, she hadn't even read it!

    And, my friend (the one who agreed to buy me a new copy if she damaged my book) had the same thing happen to her with that same acquaintance, except if was THE HUNGER GAMES. And, my friend would MARRY these books if she could. And, the girl had read about 5 pages in like, a month! I mean, come on! So, my friend asked to get it back!

    *sigh* At least I trust my friend :D Will be lending her my copy of Insurgent.... and I'm kinda nervous :S

    Great post!

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  23. You will die when you hear this one... I had a friend who frequently traded (borrowed back and forth) books with me, this was all going swimmingly for about a year when I picked up one of the books she borrowed and noticed that there was initials written in pen on one of my books. On closer inspection they were HER initials. I started searching my books and found the same thing in EVERY SINGLE BOOK SHE HAD EVER BORROWED! I was furious!
    It took me a while to confront her about it, I was just silently stewing, not speaking with her if I could help it and not offering her the loan of any more books. Finally one day when she asked to borrow another one, I casually brought it up and was told she does this so she would know if she had already read that book and how many times. Apparently she does it every time she reads a book. I just don't get how she thought that would be okay to do to a borrowed book! Does she do this to library books, too?
    I've only loaned to her a few times since and she has stopped the habit with my books, but still.... people are just stupid sometimes.

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  24. I love this post. I work in a library and one of the things most deplorable is finding food in books when checking them in - such as bacon as a bookmark! Yes, really. And chocolate candy wrappers! On a more personal lending level, I think I may be finished with lending my books. I lent a favorite poetry book to a woman I knew a little, she gave it back with tea stains over half the pages, said sorry and she offered to buy another. I said no but never lent her another book. There are many blank spaces in my bookshelves from borrowed-but-not-returned books. So sad, so sad.

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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from Goodreads.com unless otherwise stated.
 
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