Have Some Respect–BookMark It I Say!

Someone recently loaned me a copy of a book that has received a lot of media attention this past while. I’ve been curious about the book, but because I have so many books in my TBR pile I hadn’t picked it up. So when it was offered to me I jumped at the chance.

My husband had made an offhand comment about some of the pages being folded down, but I thought he must have been joking. Surely no one would defile this precious book? I hadn’t taken time to look at the book, as I was in the middle of another one when the book was dropped off. Surely this person had not done the unthinkable. Surely, my husband was just pulling my leg. I had to check for myself.

Here’s where I cringe.

I dread even writing this.

Many of the pages were dog-eared. Eck!


This is something I’m a stickler for when it comes to books. Use a bookmark! If you don’t have a bookmark use a piece of paper. If all else fails use the cash receipt where you purchased the book, but for goodness sake use something.

It’s not just because I dread thinking of my own little book with the pages wrinkled and bent, although truthfully that thought did flash in my mind, I never fold down pages and here’s why.

Books deserve our respect. They should be handled accordingly. Now, I’m not suggesting we use gloves or something silly like that, but never, ever fold down a page.

Someone spent many hours writing this book, pouring their heart and soul into each word and syllable, writing, rewriting and rewriting again. Each published book represents a time in an author’s life where thoughts, desires and dreams came out to play. You may not know the author, but you recognize their pain, sorrow, happiness– a full spectrum of emotions that came straight from their heart and entered yours. That book was a part of your world for a brief moment in time, and you connected on some level with the person who wrote it.

I giggle when I think of one of my friends who, when she read my book, wouldn’t even open it up all the way because she wanted to keep it looking like new. Now that’s respect, although I’m not suggesting someone should go that far either.

A book can be loved without being abused. There is a happy medium.

Phew! I think this rant is over.

Are you a stickler when it comes to handling books? Do you handle them with care, the used books as well as the new? Perhaps you have a double standard when it comes to used versus new books? Or maybe you even have your own story to share.

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38 Comments

  1. Amen, Laura…if more people were like you, the books we get at the store would be in better shape…reposting to Facebook on our bookstore fan page!

    Wendy

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    • I know that a certain amount of wear and tear is normal, but isn’t it just so much easier to stick in something for a bookmark?

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  2. Where do you stand on writing in the margins of the book? I guess that this could be termed abuse but is often a valuable resource for historians. My feelings are if someone borrows my book then bends the pages I wouldn’t be too happy, but if someone lends me a book I’ve wanted to read, I’m just grateful that they did.

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    • For me, marking in the margins would be acceptable under some circumstances. I view resource books perhaps a bit differently that I would a novel. I will admit to having underlined certain passages in non-fiction books in the past. I no longer do that either. We change our practices as we go along. (If that sounds hypocritical so be it. It sort of does to me in a way. lol!)

      I certainly didn’t mean to give the impression that I didn’t appreciate this person lending me their book (they actually offered it to me because they wanted my opinion), but for me I didn’t like seeing the dog-eared pages especially on a new book that was read only once.

      Thanks so much for dropping in and joining in the conversation..All opinions are appreciated. I enjoy seeing what other people’s views are.

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  3. I always remove the jackets from hard cover books when I’m reading so they don’t get damaged. Odd things I’ve used as bookmarks: coasters, napkins, cat toys, candy wrappers, mail. I once forgot to pay a bill because it was shoved inside a book. Nice post Laura.

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    • I also remove the jacket on a hardcover book. It is so easy for them to become damaged. I’m guilty of using anything handy if for a bookmark. At the moment i’m using a playing card.

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  4. What a good post!

    Here’s my story. Years ago I lent my favourite book to a dear friend to read. This book had been a catalyst in changing my life for the better and I had raved about it. When that book came back to me I was horrified and very disappointed over what she had done to it. Even now it bothers me to see the shape it’s in.
    My loved book had obviously been bent backward with every page she read so that now its binding is all loppy, twisted. Do you know what I mean? My book is no longer new looking and in the shape it should be, it is distorted. I couldn’t believe she would do that to a book that was not even her own! What was she thinking?

    I guess it is up to the person who owns a book as to how they care for it, but if it is borrowed from the library or an acquaintance …

    You know, I have to admit that I am even a little embarrassed about that book’s appearance now since I certainly do not treat my treasures that way. I still love it, though.

    Now … give me a catalogue .. that is a whole different story! 🙂

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    • I guess there is a definite lesson there about who we lend books to. I’d like to think that most people in that situation would have treated your book with more respect that that. Sorry!

      You make a good point, Lynn. It is up to us to treat our treasures the way we wish. And I’d like to point out that I’m not judging this person because of this. We are all entitled to do what we wish to with our own books, and we certainly have our own levels of comfort when it comes to such things.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

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  5. 1959duke

     /  March 7, 2011

    I know what you mean. If want something that has been bent in someway I would just go through my own collection.

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  6. I’m of two minds when it comes to the condition of books.

    I never fold down the corner of a page. I always use something to mark my spot. I never write in books that are historically important to me or novels. I try and keep my books looking as new as possible.

    . . . but

    I do write in how-to books when it’s a book worth keeping; one I will refer to often in my writing career, one I’d buy again if I lost the original copy. In pen, I underline a spectacular part and note the page number in the back of the book, so I can find it easy the next time. I tear out pages of these books when I don’t agree with them because they distract from the purpose I have the book. I really have to disagree with the advice on these pages to destroy them.

    Although I understand books deserve respect, my worse fear is visiting a library and finding my book — that has been on its shelf for two years — looking brand new. I’d much prefer to discover the pages dog-eared and wrinkled, chocolate, ketchup and ice cream stains throughout and the cover worn with the corners missing.

    Why?

    Because it would mean it was well-read by many, even those who couldn’t stop reading when hunger called.

    Of course, if the book was used to kill flies, then I might not like that. Unless it was preventing the reader from getting absorbed in the story.

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    • Great opinions, Diane. I mentioned in an earlier comment that I have underlined passages in books in the past. Have never torn a page out. Interesting..

      I don’t expect any book to be in perfect condition especially if it is in a library or school. My own copy of “Bitter, Sweet” that I take to me for readings etc. looks far from new. It obviously that it’s been worn yet none of the pages have been bent down or creased.

      As with most things there is a balance for us all. What is acceptable to one may not be for others. It’s what makes for good conversation. Thanks for your input.

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  7. I dunno, I’m sitting on the fence and seeing both sides on this issue.

    Some of my books are in “like new” condition and some are in “fair” condition. Dozens of paperbacks are the ones in “fair” condition. [By “fair” I mean the spines have deep creases in them.] Does this mean I don’t take care of my books? Nope. The worn copies demonstrate the book is loved; it was read over and over and over.

    Wear and tear doesn’t necessarily equate to the reader’s disrespect. It could be quite the opposite: They love the book so much that it’s been carried with them everywhere. It’s been held in one hand while they cooked or ate their lunch or waited for the bus. And if someone, pressed for time without an actual bookmark nearby, bends the page of a book that means they cared enough to keep their spot in the story, to bookmark it, in their own way.

    If / when my book(s) are published I’d be honored to pick up a used copy of it and find deep creases along the spine, dog-eared pages and/or underlined passages because then I would know without a doubt someone read that book, probably more than once, and liked it enough to not want to lose their place or wanted to remember certain words / passages.

    Now, as for me, I treat my books so they will last for decades. Just ask my daughter, who read 20 year old copies of YA books I’d kept my whole life to one day give to my daughter. But it’s inevitable that books’ spines will crease and crack. My paperback copy of Eyes of the Dragon had to be retired two years ago and replaced with a hardcover version because it’d been read so often the pages were about to fall out.

    And I most certainly treat library and friends’ copies with the utmost care because those do not belong to me and they will go through hundreds of hands in a small time frame thereby speeding along its natural wear and tear.

    So yeah, I dunno; I’m comfortable on the fence with this one.

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    • It’s always good to see two sides of an issue. 🙂

      As I mentioned to Diane, wear and tear to me is inevitable if a book is read at all especially books coming from the library and have hopefully gone through many hands.

      I think most of us are quite respectful of books that belong to others even though Lynn mentioned having a bad experience.

      And you know what? Sometimes sitting on the fence isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps one day down the road when your own books are out there circling the globe you’ll climb down off that fence. 🙂

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  8. I’m scared to admit this, but I turn down corners on pages, BUT only to books I own. I also highlight great passages. NEVER to a borrowed book. I figured, I do it to my Bible, why not a book that certain prose entrance me. Sorry, I’ll go buy some post-it notes. 😦

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    • First of all, you’re forgiven Ciara. 🙂

      But you make a good point. Many of us are more careful with books that belong to others than we are of our own, myself included. I remember many years ago a friend loaned me a book to read and somehow a small smudge got on one page. I went out and bought her another copy. She never knew the difference. I just couldn’t return it to her in a less than perfect condition. Was the small smudge there when I got it? I’m not even sure. In either case we bother ended up with a copy.

      Another friend apologized to me today for dog-earing her books and happened to mention how taken aback she was over someone writing in the margins of their Bible.

      It goes to show what I mentioned in an earlier comment. We all have different areas of comfort when ti comes to books.

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  9. Marie

     /  March 7, 2011

    I am in total Agreement with you on this one, Laura. Dog-eared pages are a pet peeve of mine. If I buy a ratty second hand copy, I straighten up any previous dog-ears, and wouldn’t dream of doing further harm to its pages. I also remove dust jackets from books before I read them.
    My cook books, on the other hand, don’t get the same respect. Many of the pages are stuck together with flour, sugar, chocolate etc…In fact, if I were to put one in the oven, I wouldn’t be surprised to take out a cake!

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    • Marie,

      I laughed out loud when I read the last line of your reply! So loud, in fact, my sleeping kitty jumped up and ran for her life. Anywho, just wanted to thank you for the laugh.

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      • Marie

         /  March 7, 2011

        Glad you had a laugh….I usually have an attack of silliness at least once a day!
        :0)

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    • Marie, if you decide to bake that cookbook of yours I hope you bring it up to crafts one day to share with us all..

      I think it’s almost impossible to keep a cookbook in perfect condition isn’t it? Unless it never gets used. 🙂

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  10. I do not fold pages. I use a bookmark or a scrap of paper, anything that will not damage the pages of the book. I may carry this too far in the opinion of some. Many preachers instruct people to write notes in their Bibles. I don’t write in my Bible, but I don’t look down on those who do. I want my Bible to look like it did when I bought it. I wash my hands, if necessary, rather than make the pages dirty. I don’t care that people think I don’t read it just because it’s in good shape. I do read it. If it becomes dirty or dog-eared, I’ll buy a new one. Now I’m on a rant. Ha! Blessings, Laura…

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    • There seems to be a difference of opinion when it comes to Bibles as I found out earlier today with a conversation with a few friends. I think I’d be inclined to use post its if I felt the need to make notes. I don’t mark my Bible up either and like you I don’t look down on anyone who does..Just don’t fold the pages down.

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  11. I’m with Diane and others who want their books to be well-loved. I tend to read in the bath, so my books always end up a little crinkled. I treat them the best I can, but I really READ them, so I’m not going to be worried about a spine cracking. I treat friends’s books very differently, but I almost hate having a book loaned to me because I have to be so careful with it that I rarely get around to reading it!

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    • Oh there is a certain fear I have when borrowing a book especially one that is in excellent shape when I get it. As in an earlier comment I mentioned a tiny smudge that I found in a book, even though I wasn’t sure it happened while I had it I felt obligated to buy my friend a new one.

      I don’t borrow a lot of books simply because I have so many that are yet to be read. My mom and I trade books back and forth, though.

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  12. I’m another fence-sitter on this one. To me, a well worn book seems like a well used one, and books are meant to be used. But I agree there is a difference between normal wear and wanton abuse. (I liken fanatic respect of books to a collection of candles that nobody is willing to burn. My mother was like that!)

    As a teacher I used to teach my students how to open new textbooks. As one who has worked in a library I know how proper first openings can prolong the life of a binding. As a reader I treat my own books with care altho’ in my ‘how to’ books I will highlight favourite passages and make notes in the margins. I don’t hesitate to turn down corners of magazines that I own, but always use a bookmark in books. I actually have quite a collection of bookmarks, but still end up with ripped pieces of Kleenex, corners off envelopes and assorted other items marking my place.

    Now, books and magazines that I don’t own… that’s a different story. They’re someone else’s property and deserve utmost care. And don’t you hate it when you’re reading a magazine at the dentist’s office and someone has ripped out a recipe??? 😉

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    • Carol, I wasn’t aware that you were a teacher. How did that one get past me?

      When I was a kid I can remember covering out text books with brown paper to protect them. It was something we were expected to do in the school we went to. We were often lectured about not writing in books or turning down the covers.

      Everyone admits to giving more care to books that don’t belong to them which to me indicates what? They don’t feel they treat their own books as they should…Interesting thought..

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      • Or, maybe it’s that they don’t know the other person’s book policy, so they give their book the best treatment possible? Or, maybe it’s that people are more concerned about how others think they treat books, so they keep the borrowed book in pristine condition?

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      • Yes, I taught Elementary School in Port Moody many long years ago, then worked in the school library where my daughter taught in Maple Ridge not so long ago.

        For me, taking care of someone else’s book is like using anything else that doesn’t belong to me — like renting a house or borrowing a car (not that I do either one). I want to return items in the same condition as I received them.

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  13. I’m with you, Laura. And I can’t stay it if the bind is broken. There’s no excuse for disrespecting books. One of my biggest pet peeves. Thanks for joining the ranks and expressing this must-not-do principle.

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    • Oh dear no broken backs on the books either. That ones a real no no. How would we like it if someone forced us to do the splits? Ouch!

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  14. On a slightly different topic, I asked my local library if I could get my reading copy of HARE “laminated” (or whatever they call that shiny sticky stuff that preserves books) – they did it for me, no charge, and it looks so great! I love libraries!

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    • Great idea, Jan. I should look into that. I was glad to see you had a book signing recently. Hope that went well. 🙂 Vittles, as soon as the weather straightens out?

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  15. Depends. Paperbacks get dogeared. Books I intend to save as keepsakes (Bitter, Sweet & Dead Witness come to mind) I’m very careful with. Hardbacks or books from a collection – kid gloves. Kindle or iPad version, never dogear the pages. And I never borrow books – even from the library.

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    • Hey Dave, Nice to see you’ve come out of hibernation. It’s been a long winter. I can’t use the words “long, cold winter” because I know you haven’t been cold down there in Florida.

      Sounds as though you’re a man who definitely knows how to handle a book. I was most impressed to learn that you never dog-ear your Kindle. What a relief knowing that. 😉

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  16. I’m an avid library user, (I know, as a writer, I should BUY more books), and I’m always amazed at how well tended the books are. No folded pages really ever. Amazing!

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    • Glad to hear that you use the library, Jennifer. Libraries should be an essential, especially with young kids. A great way to expose them to many books. Children’s books, especially picture books are costly.

      It nice to hear that people treat the library books with care. You’re right. I don’t recall seeing any folded pages on any of the books I’ve ever borrowed over the years.

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  17. I don’t agree! I’d much rather see a book dog-eared, broken-backed, underlined and coffee-stained than sitting pristine on a shelf.
    Why?
    The worn book has obviously been read and re-read, thought about, argued with, and carefully considered, and is clearly meaningful to at least one reader. The mint-condition book on the shelf has been read once (maybe) and forgotten. I know which one I’d prefer my books to one day be.
    This goes for fiction and non-fiction. Books are not sacred. Their contents may be. But books themselves are just paper and ink. They are meant to be read, and sometimes that means taking a beating.

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    • Thanks for dropping in Keith. I hope everything is fine in Newfoundland.

      I’m all for a book being read multiple times, and I certainly have nothing against regular wear and tear. As Jennifer mentioned she borrows books from the library, books that would have been read many, many times with no dog-ears. Yes, it can be done!!

      I’m glad this post has spurred so many people to offer their opinions. A great benefit of blogging. I love it!

      I think the one thing we probably all agree on is we all love books and we want to see them read many times over. Thanks for offering your opinion, Keith. It’s always nice to hear from you.

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