9 Book Borrowing Etiquettes You Should Know

If you know an avid reader, chances are that you also know about a small collection of books he or she owns. You also know the fact that they spend some time (and money) in the book store, every time they see one. Chances are that you have spotted them inhaling the fragrance of the books or kissing the covers of the books secretly. They have professed their love for the books publicly, and so frequently that you consider them weird. But whenever you ask them to lend you a book, they only decline your request if they are currently reading the book or if they have already lent it to someone else.

We, as a society, have well documented social etiquette, table manners, road rules, dressing etiquette, etcetera, etcetera. Every social interaction, involving more than one human requires a code of conduct to be followed. But surprisingly, I failed to find anything related to books borrowing and lend manners and etiquette. Over the time, after lending books to so many people, I have learnt some lessons, unfortunately, the hard way. So if you are a serial borrowers or new borrowers, read on to see the dos and do nots of borrowing books.

1. Borrowing a book

Every book lover has a tiny book collection and many a times, the number of borrowers is quite high. So if someone has agreed to lend you a book, make sure that you call/text them to remind the title of the book so that they don’t forget it. I am not at all ashamed to admit that I hate saying my books a goodbye (even for a short time) and that makes my subconscious mind to automatically forget the lending promises. 😛

2. While Borrowing a Paperback

If your friend is a student like me, chances are that they will rarely have hardback editions, since they are a bit expensive. But even if it is a paperback, it is well cared for. The problem with paperbacks is that their spines are delicate. So if you open the books too much or fold the books, chances are that the pages will start coming off. And once a page comes out, slowly many pages will come off. And in this way it will become difficult to maintain the integrity of the book since the loose pages can be lost or damaged. The possibilities are endless.

3. While Borrowing a Hardcover

Hardbacks are the pride of a book owner. The page quality is so much better and the hardbacks make it easy to care for them. But they are expensive, as well. Most hardbacks come with a cover jacket. Now, while its presence or absence does not make a difference, it’s pretty. And prone to get torn. So whatever you do, make sure that you do not damage the jacket in any way.

4. Dog ears

The entire community of book readers will absolutely HATE it if they find dog eared pages in the books. So if you don’t wanna face the wrath of the owner, use a book mark. And the bookmarks need not be fancy. You can even use ticket stubs as a bookmark. Just don’t dog ear the books.

5. Eating Food or Drinking Beverages While Reading

We all do it. Let’s face it. But the difference is that the owner will always be careful to not spill anything on the book. EVER. So use a coaster or a table while drinking that amazing cup of coffee.

6. Book Covers

DO NOT keep the book in any place susceptible to dampness. It will ruin the cover and sometimes, the entire book. I gave my copy of Fountainhead by Ayn Rand to my best friend and he returns it 10 months later with a damaged cover! My heart cried silently that day. :’(

So, if possible, use an old newspaper as cover jacket. My teachers lent me books because whenever I returned it to them, it always had a newspaper cover jacket and by that they simply knew that I had treated the book respectfully.

7. Reading the Book

Many people just borrow books and never get past the first few pages. So if you don’t intend to read the book, return it immediately. Because we might be waiting to re-read it.

8. Returning the Book

Return the book within an acceptable period of time. I repeat. RETURN THE BOOK WITHIN AN ACCEPTABLE PERIOD OF TIME. I have had people who returned me the books after one and a half year even though I saw them everyday. That’s the most irritating thing ever.

It’s not that I have borrowed a book and always returned it on time. But the reason for my delay was that my friends lived in different cities than me and I never met them for ages. But whenever I met them, I ALWAYS returned their books in perfect condition. So never hurt a person by keeping something that belongs to them, unasked.

9. Being Grateful

No matter how good a friend is, always thank them for lending you the book. I always wrote the person who lent me a book, a small note about what I loved or disliked about the book and then a thanks for their generosity. It always went a long way and I had the most amazing conversations with them after they read the note. While writing a note is optional, being grateful is compulsory.

I think that’s about it. Chances are, that even of you have in some way, avoided following the etiquette, the lender will still lend you books. Because our books teach us not be be materialistic, to love our friends, and to be kind. And maybe, they are hoping that one day you will see the whole point of reading and become a better person. So respect your friend and treat his/her possession with care.

Happy borrowing and happy reading! 🙂

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