Saturday, February 11, 2006

Is It Just Me?

This is going to sound like a small urban legend of sorts but I know both people involved. I'll change names for the sake of privacy.

Jane lent Sally a hardcover Diana Gabaldon book. Sally took a long time to read it (which doesn't surprise me and shouldn't have surprised Jane). When Jane received the book back, there was a tiny tear (apparently, less than one cm) at the top of the dustjacket. Sally hadn't even noticed it.

Jane, it transpired through her boyfriend, was very upset about the condition of her book and expected it to be replaced. Sally knew that, in order to preserve the friendship, she would have to buy another copy for Jane.

Wow. How many people are this, er, fussy about the condition of their books?

For one thing, I don't EVER lend books (shame on me) and I don't borrow anymore, either. My impatience would have to weigh more heavily than my cheapness in order for me to buy a hardcover. If I DO read a hardcover, I always remove the dustjacket until I'm finished.

If someone is THAT concerned about the condition of her books, I should think she wouldn't want to lend them to others.

I don't know if Sally actually did replace the book and I don't know the status of the friendship but this situation strikes me as, well, odd.

Do others consider Jane's reaction to be overly much?


  1. You know you will always take that chance when you lend people your stuff. No one will take care of your things like you will. When I lend out a book, I generally consider it to be gone forever. If it came back and had only minor damage, I'd be thrilled!

  2. That's a good policy.

    I decided long ago that I'm horrible at returning books. So, I removed myself completely from the lend-borrow cycle.

    I think the book in this case sustained only very minor damage and I don't think I would have been upset by it.

  3. As someone who used to work at an antiquarian bookstore... Jane really needs to get over herself. The only reason to keep a book in pristine condition is if it's a first edition you're hoping to sell for lots of money someday, in which case, you don't lend it out. Or if you're going to lend it, you a) remove the dust jacket first, or b) get an acetate dust jacket cover (like they put on library books).

    Sorry if I sound unsympathetic, but I firmly believe that books -- even in a collection --- are meant to be read, and that's going to result in wear and tear.

  4. I agree with you, Rachel. Books are meant to be read or used. I have a large collection of vintage & antique cookbooks and I use them as much as possible.