When you can lend an e-book you don’t need to worry about getting it back with a broken spine, dog-eared pages, and a coffee stain on page 103. The decision is an easy one. What is some invisible bit of computer data to me? Ha-ha! Borrow all my books! Never return them! See if I care!
(Psst, e-readers, can you lend out your e-books? I am under-informed about this. I hear many of you cannot.)
But when it comes to paper books, lending can be fraught with anxiety and pain. You lend someone your favorite book, an immaculate altar to your love for an author or a story, and that someone never returns it. Or returns it tattered and torn with a shrug and a quick explanation about reading in the bath. You rage internally and take another step toward the decision to never lend out another book again.
This is sad. The only thing better than reading a good book is sharing that good book with another human and then *crosses fingers* talking about it afterward. If I hoard my books like dragon’s gold, I’m not doing myself any favors.
The question is this: are books objects meant to be kept pristine and admired from afar? Or are they hands-on experiences that can enrich lives over and over and over again, so long as they are freed from the shelf?
In some cases it is the former. I have a few signed books I won’t lend out, and nobody but me is allowed to touch my hardcover collector’s edition Terry Prachetts. Especially my husband. These are books whose value extends beyond the words inside. They are stories, and I read them and love them as I would any other books, but they are also art objects that I enjoy looking at, decoration even. Their purpose goes beyond the story, and so I treat them differently.
In (most) other cases it is the latter. The decision to not lend out a book feels like a decision for dragon sickness. To say “I will not lend out my books” feels a short cry from “objects are more important than people.” Though I love every book I own, I will lend almost all of them. Even if I sometimes hesitate. Even if I would rather my books not get another set of creases and folds and stains. Because I would rather my husband age a book 10 years in three days that not have the conversation we will have if I lend him something I love to read.
What about you? Do you lend out your paper books?
This post was a part of the blog party at Buchfresserchen.