Every reader is somewhat protective of their books and has certain criteria for how they should be treated. Some are very strict while others are pretty lenient. I know I’ve seen lots of debates all over the place about what is acceptable, whether it’s okay to write in the margins or place them face down to save your spot instead of using a bookmark. It’s interesting how picky some people can be regarding what are essentially stacks of bound paper.
When it comes to my own books, I never worry. I’m confident in my own abilities to treat my own stuff right. But every so often I encounter the dreaded question: Hey, can I borrow one of your books? I’ll bring it back as soon as I’m finished. Immediately upon hearing this question, my heart starts to pound and I start getting black and white flashes of horror scenes and screams in my mind. This is the question I dread. So often I have borrowed out my books only to get them back in irreparable states. Many people are very lenient about what their books look like. I am not one of those people. If one is to borrow one of my books, they must accept the following rules.
1. Do not dog-ear the pages. Lots of people like the fold the corners of pages to save their spot. It saves them a bookmark, and it easy to flip right back to it and get back to reading without wasting any time. But this damages the page. Once you bend a page, that mark is always going to be there. Always. I can’t stand the pages of my books being folded in any way. Don’t do that.
2. Don’t fold back the cover. Lots of people like to read paperback books, but gosh darnit using two hands is just too bloody difficult. To alleviate the stress of actually having to hold a book with more than one hand, people often fold back the cover so only one page is visible at a time. This makes the book end up looking all funky, and I often pile many heavy, hardcover books on top of it once I get it back, hoping against hope that the cover won’t curve upward when it sits alone on my desk. (And for those of you who fold it back and use two hands anyway, what on earth? That just doesn’t make any sense.)
3. Don’t bend hardcover books to ruin the spine. You know that satisfying sound you hear when you open a tightly bound book that sounds similar to Velcro being pulled apart? That isn’t satisfying. Stop it. It’s okay to some extent, actually, but some people like to just pull it apart like they’re dissecting a sandwich, and that is not cool. Sometimes it can mess up the binding and then I have to deal with a book that feels all loose and weird and yuck.
4. Take off the sleeve when reading a hardcover. This isn’t actually one of my big peeves, so if people break this rule I often don’t care. This is just personal preference, mostly. I like to take off the sleeve because it preserves it and keeps it looking nice. Hold it for too long and it can get all messed up, ew. That said, it did backfire on me once when I took off the sleeve and set it aside and some moron sat on it. That was not fun.
5. DO NOT EVER WRITE IN MY BOOKS. If you return a book to me and there is writing in it, the only reason you will stay alive for more than a few minutes is so I can collect your credit card info in order to buy a new copy with your money. Then, depending on my mood, you may be able to leave with only a few missing limbs. Some people like writing in books, but if you absolutely must destroy the sanctity of a good book, do it in your own. Not in mine.
Along with these quirks, I also like to organize my books by author, from hardcover to paperback, from tallest to shortest, thickest to thinnest, etc. but these are all personal. I have a bookshelf twice as tall as me in my room, and I like to keep it looking nice. But that’s for another time.
For all you readers and writers out there, what are your rules for people borrowing your books? Do you have any at all?