Things You Don’t Do To Books

Part of this post was brought on from some previous events from today. My mom called me early Monday morning to tell me that my dad had about twenty(!) boxes of books he was looking to get rid of and suggested I come look at them.  I came home with twenty boxes of books containing signed copies and two sets of Harvard Classics, one of which I’m keeping for my collection.

You can start drooling now. :)

No, this doesn’t conflict with my commitment to buy/accept books as gifts.  Why?  Two reasons:

  1. Harvard Classics are collectible, and carry monetary value with or without a full set.  The set I’ve acquired is short only six volumes, which I can hunt for.  This is about acquiring books for value, not necessarily for knowledge (though the majority of the content is philosophy).  Most of my books, in their present condition and age, carry little to no value.
  2. Much of what I’ve gotten I’m going to give away for trade at local bookshops.  I might keep a signed copy or two for myself (again, monetary value), but I don’t intend to keep many of these books, and I’ll hang onto my credit until after December 25.

Anyway, what I want to talk about is book collecting.  At the very least, I want to rant about what you DON’T do to books if you care about them in the slightest.  If you do any of the following, you are dead to me.*

  1. Always store your books away from areas they can get wet in any way.  This includes pets who can pee on them.  I bought a copy of Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music once off Amazon, and the seller sent me a copy that an animal of some type had peed on.  I was VERY unhappy.
  2. For whatever reason, do not, EVER EVER EVER, use a stamp inside a book. There’s a local place here in Harrisburg called Paperback Exchange that does this, and I didn’t notice until I came home with two books from there that had the stamp. I refuse to do business with them.  This is an atrocity for which, despite my nonviolent principles, I think you should be shot.  DON’T DEFILE YOUR BOOKS JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO MARK THEM AS YOURS!
  3. If you borrow a book, treat it as if you were watching a child or a pet for a friend.  I like to write notes in some of the books I read, but I would never, EVER do this to a friend’s book, because I didn’t pay for it.  I use a notebook for my thoughts.  As a common courtesy, treat your friend’s books with care.
  4. On that note, I will say that I think writing notes are OK.  Insight is a good thing when reading, and whether you write it in the margins or in a notebook doesn’t matter.  I hope to one day pass on my books to my child, that they might gain the insight that I did, and even gain insight of their own. Just remember to be careful with your marks.
  5. Though I think a cracked spine, dog-eared pages, and a messy cover can bring a book character, don’t dog ear pages (we have bookmarks for a reason) and don’t fold the pages over to display the page you’re reading.  You’ll get better book life by avoiding these practices.
  6. Dust jackets: I’m for them. Just remember to replace them if you remove them while reading!

One special note for libraries: STOP ABUSING BOOKS! Many libraries have gotten better with this practice, but gluing check-out cards into the back of books and attaching non-removable covers to books in the name of helping to preserve them has wrecked their value.  I’m glad you’re getting better, but if you’re continuing these practices, shame on you!

Bottom line: no matter who you are, take care of your books!  They have value in so many ways, and you don’t want to diminish that with carelessness!


*This does not apply to romance novels or copies of the Twilight series.


4 thoughts on “Things You Don’t Do To Books

  1. I love this post more than I can say. I run through this list with anyone who wants to borrow a book of mine. :)

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