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My 7 Rules Of Loaning Books

first 25 books

Last week’s post about The Book Borrower, one of my bookish pet peeves, seemed to have hit a nerve with a lot of people.

So I thought I’d dig a little deeper. Playing off last week’s post, I created some rules to help you navigate the muddy waters of loaning books.

Is it okay to loan books? Of course it is. But if you want your book back, you’ll need some guidelines. Here are mine:

Establish a book-loaning circle of trust, then never loan outside of it.

Who are the most trustworthy people in your life? That’s your book-loaning circle of trust, right there. If you wouldn’t loan them money, if you don’t trust them to be on time for your wedding, if they talk about you behind your back, then they don’t belong in your book loaning circle of trust.

Also, the book loaning circle of trust is an unforgiving place. One strike and you’re out. If a member of said circle of trust loses my book, then said member no longer belongs in my circle of trust.

NEVER loan prized books (first editions, books with notes, autographed, etc).

Look at that beautiful first edition, signed copy of The Grapes of Wrath. Wow. Your grandmother is a huge Steinbeck fan, and she has politely asked, in her fragile, grandmotherly voice, if she can borrow the book.

Are you kidding, grandma? No. Absolutely not. I don’t care if you knew Steinbeck in high school. Here’s $15. Order yourself a copy off Amazon.

This also applies to books with notes in the margins. The book can be replaced, but your notes can’t.

Be leery of people who ask to borrow your book.

Yep, like Granny.

Now, if they’re already in your circle of trust, then I guess it’s okay. But if you’ve never loaned a book to someone before, and this particular someone asks to borrow your book, then you might want to think long and hard before you hand over that book.

You could’ve just loaned your prized book to an untrustworthy, serial book borrower. These people have no shame. If you say no, they’ll move on to their next friend without blinking. Go ahead and let them do that.

Don’t loan to people you don’t see often.

 This should be common sense, but even common sense is worth mentioning every now and then.

You live in New York, and your buddy lives in Seattle. You loaned him Infinite Jest when he’s in town for the holidays. That was six months ago, and you honestly expect him to mail it back? Don’t kid yourself…you just gave your buddy a copy of Infinite Jest.

Now you should probably go buy yourself one.

Get a Kindle.

Y’all heard of these things? They’re some kind of fancy reading contraption. Seriously, I’ve always been open about my love for the paper book, but I’ve also been honest about the many benefits of e-readers.

From what I understand, books are easy to loan out on a Kindle because they do fancy Kindle things and the person you loan the book to is a recipient of those fancy Kindle things and everyone is happy.

Keep track of who’s borrowed your books.

Is this going too far? Maybe. I mean, you’re not a frickin’ library here.

But if you’re really intent on getting that book back, you’ll need to know who you loaned books to in the first place. And if you’re one of those book loaners who can’t say no, and you have 10 books loaned out at a time, then this is more important than ever.

Put a bright sheet of paper in your bookshelf where the loaned book once lived. Write the person’s name on that sheet. Or maybe use an Excel spreadsheet or some kind of fancy iPhone app. Or write the book borrower’s name in blood on your library wall. Whatever works for you.

If all else fails, don’t loan books.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to close up shop and quit loaning books. You may feel like a “bad guy.” You may feel “stingy” or “petty,” but screw that. You’ve been burned too many times.

If this is you, embrace saying no. Learn it. Say it over and over. No. No! NO! NOO!!!!!! Always feel free to give a book away if you’re in the mood or even buy a copy of the book for the book moocher, but don’t let yourself fall for the loaning trap ever, ever again.

I’m sure I missed some stuff. Everyone has different book borrowing experiences, so feel free to chime in with your own in the comments.

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44 Comments Post a comment
  1. Busy … will be back. Looks good though

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  2. Reblogged this on Anakin's reveries in multiverses.

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    January 24, 2014
  3. Well said! I couldn’t agree more with those rules…

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  4. Thanks for the great post. This one will really hit home. I’m one of those people who does not lend books (I also hate lending records — remember them — CDs, or DVDs). I know that seems harsh, but many years of bad outcomes has led me to this. When someone asks to borrow a book I always pull out my wallet and counter with: “Here, let me lend you the money to buy your own copy.” Harsh but effective.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  5. One of mine would be to only lend mass market paperbacks. This, however, does not apply to all mass market paperbacks. And I would still be releasingit with the assumption that it will not return.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  6. Reblogged this on Curiosidades na internet.

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    January 24, 2014
  7. Im torn at the moment when it comes to lending books. As a general rule I don’t do it. I wouldn’t borrow books from a person or a library for that matter so I sure as hell am not going to lend them. However, someone lent me their Song of Ice and Fire books and because its taking me FOREVER to get through them I felt maybe I could trust them with mine considering how good nick their books were in. The fact they lived in my house means I could also watch them like a hawk.

    Things were going great at first, but then they took a 2 month long trip over seas and took at least three of my books with them. When they got back I learnt that they had borrowed out my book to two people I hadn’t even met! And of course because of the travel one came back with indentation scratch marks on the cover, and the other they didn’t even leave the dust jacket behind so it got seriously crinkled. I was so crushed I couldn’t even say anything when they were telling me this and I just put them back on my shelf.

    To this day I don’t know how to bring it up with them that it was a violation of trust to take my books over seas, let hands I don’t know touch them, and and them come back damaged even if it was small.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  8. I only lend books to people if the book is one I don’t want to read again. I do lend to my daughters, but they always bring them back.

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    January 24, 2014
  9. I find it difficult to lend books to people in fear that they either bend the book back on itself or fold the corners of the pages to use as a bookmark. I actually noticed a friend folds pages that way and she’s just asked to borrow the book I’m reading. Maybe I’ll provide her with a bookmark..

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  10. I’ll only lend mass market paperbacks. And if I get a book back in bad condition, all borrowing priveledges are canceled.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  11. Reblogged this on Felicia Jane: Writer Extraordinarie and commented:
    Very true. I need to return some of the books I’ve borrowed.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  12. To lend or not to lend—it’s a difficult line to walk. I want to be generous and share my love for my books, but one of my favorite books disappeared that way. I like your philosophy: lend, but lend cautiously. Thanks for the post!

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  13. I have to learn how to say no. I leant books to people I worked with – and then they quit. Now those books are in some unknown home – maybe they’re displayed. But probably they are in a box somewhere, unloved.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  14. Nice list. Here’s another: Be selective. Only “loan” books you never want to see again. The conversation goes like this:

    “You want to read ‘X”?”
    If it’s a book you don’t want to loan, you choose a book you never want to read again and say, “Here’s a book I think you’ll like better.” Then put the book you don’t want in their hot little hands. Either they’ll love it, and you can ditch all your other “never want to read again” books on them, or they’ll never trust you to recommend a book ever again and will stop asking to borrow books.

    It might be worth a try.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  15. Good list. I generally tell people who ask to borrow books from me – ‘Do l look like a library to you.’ They generally don’t ask again.

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    January 24, 2014
  16. Loaning things, whether it is money or a book etc, is problematic in my opinion. This includes to even people I trust. What | find happens is that things you have loaned either never get back to you, or it takes ages (and I mean ages!) to get things returned to you. It is fairly easy to lose or misplace things. I think it is better to lie than to loan things out. It just puts unnecessary pressure and tensions on relationships. It is a complete pain in the backside. Lending money is the worst by a long, long way, even if it just a very small amount…

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  17. Wow, this is the total opposite of my book lending philosophy but then I’m a serial lender. I agree on the not lending out a prized copy, but I pretty much insist that people take paperbacks off my hand. I’ve forced colleagues to take some of my books in the past so I could get their opinions about them. I think I might just be in the wrong profession, clearly I wanted to be a librarian but haven’t taken the plunge!

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  18. I’m such a prude when it comes to loaning books. Seriously, I’m a “one strike and you’re out” type loaner. If you scratch the cover, never give the book back, lose the dust jacket, bend a page, write on it, or treat it in any way that harms it, you’re done. No. More. Books. For. You!

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  19. sunnyagyes #

    book is full with adventure

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    January 24, 2014
  20. sunnyagyes #

    Reblogged this on Sunnyagyes’s Blog and commented:
    books full with exploring your mind

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  21. Reblogged this on Bookworm Blog and commented:
    I guess this is a good system to make. I really like it because I am picky about whom I loan my books to.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  22. Did you finish Infinite Jest? I think that’s the jest; I’ve never known anyone to get all the way through.

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  23. I am a terrible borrower of ANYTHING…I never borrow anything because I know I will lose it, or I’ll ruin it or something. Yes, I NEVER borrow anything, nor do I loan anything out that I don’t care if I get back!

    Like

    January 24, 2014
  24. Fun post, most of these apply to my system too!

    I love sharing my favorite books with my friends and family, and I don’t have huge hang-ups about “other hands” touching my books and whatnot (though if you’re going to lend it to someone else before returning it to me, I’d like to know about it). I definitely only lend to people I see often and, like most of you, have a one strike rule. Sure, once in a while I have to replace something that didn’t get returned, but it’s not a huge inconvenience, since I also follow the “no cherished/signed book rule, and I get to talk about books I’ve read with more people. Which is worth the risk, in most cases.

    Like

    January 25, 2014
  25. Dan #

    I’m paranoid about lending my own personal books out as well even if I really want someone to share in the story. I can’t stand it when books get a bent cover or a small tear in a page. I’m kinda a bit ridiculously OCD about it actually!

    Like

    January 26, 2014
  26. I dog ear pages, which is a cardinal sin when borrowing books.

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    January 26, 2014
  27. Reblogged this on Rosevoc2's Blog.

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    January 26, 2014
  28. Awesome list! The worst was when I loaned an autographed copy of a book by a SOUTH AFRICAN author to a casual acquaintance. I even tried shaming her publicly via Facebook. Yeah, never getting that book back!

    Like

    January 26, 2014
  29. tushar98 #

    Loved It……

    Like

    January 27, 2014
  30. I never liked to share.

    Like

    January 27, 2014
  31. What I find really annoying about loaning things to people is when they deny they ever loaned it from you in the first place or if they lie and say they returned it. It may be going a bit too far, but my system for loaning materials out to people is to take a picture with the person with the item on your phone when you lend it to them, then you have a record of it, proof! Then delete said photo when they give it back to you. Simples!

    Like

    January 29, 2014
  32. Meredith #

    I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but people often lend me stuff without my asking them to. I almost never ask to borrow a book (or a movie, or anything), but people will literally bring me things to borrow. I’ve had people bring things to my house for me to read, and I’ve even had people bring books to the library for me to borrow. Like, I’m already in a library, you guys. I don’t need to borrow books from an individual.

    Anyhow, I hate it because I know I’m not good with other people’s stuff. I always forget about it for months, then I find it and give it back without reading because I feel guilty. So yeah, Stop lending me stuff. I work in the library, I know how to get the stuff I want.

    Like

    January 29, 2014
  33. Reblogged this on Amsalutamirat.

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    January 30, 2014
  34. Burned so many, many times – and often with the same much-loved books! I mean, how many times can I re-buy “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” before I finally get it… books are not meant to be loaned out. Ever. To anyone.

    If someone wants to borrow a book, ask yourself “How much do I really want this person to read said book?” and if the answer is anything along the lines of “Really badly” or “I love this person so much and I know they’re going to love this book” or even “Cool person – I didn’t LOVE the book but I definitely want to read it again”, then the answer is BUY THEM A COPY OF THE BOOK. Ask them to meet you for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a mug of cold beer/cider/ginger ale. Give them the book. Wrap it in a nice piece of green velvet ribbon or tie a simple scarf around it. Give them the book.

    Hopefully, they’ll pay for your drink in thanks.

    Like

    February 1, 2014
  35. redstarsninja #

    Sadly, I’ve loaned many a book that have never come back to me. The interactions with said friends are frosty at best…up until my books come back to me, of course.

    Like

    February 4, 2014
  36. Reblogged this on Walking Contradiction and commented:
    Soooo True!!!!

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    February 9, 2014
  37. Advice worth its weight in gold….

    Like

    May 5, 2014
  38. Hahah – priceless advice! And you know what…. we agree and actually do live by these rules subconsciously ;)

    Like

    July 25, 2014

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