I have long believed that books are magical. They move people, they heal, they give us refuge. For this reason, I am a strong believer that these things need to be shared. Every paper book I have bought in the last decade has been chosen with that in mind. Do I know people that would also love this book?
Years ago, at my old store, I would come to work with a duffel bag full of books because I had a large group of readers. I would pass out the new ones and take home the ones that were returned. We all understood that these were beautiful, important things. I was blessed with the extra money for such luxuries, and not all my coworkers were. So I had books for them, or for their kid to read between library trips. It made me happy to share one of my greatest joys with others and they were always careful with my treasure. They were returned promptly, treated with respect.
I don’t have as many readers at the store I work at now…. or not as many whose reading align with mine. There are a few I loan to regularly, but for the most part I don’t have many book buds here and I miss that terribly. I have even sent books back and forth in the mail for friends.
Recently, though, I had a really bad experience. A trusted coworker talked about how much she wanted to read a book I had just bought (Turtles All the Way Down by John Green). I had never loaned to her, but her mother is well known to be a lover of books and worked at a used bookstore herself. It bares noting that I had lucked out with this copy- my Walmart had a signed copy for the same price as the regular ($13.88)…. how could I resist? Four days after I bought it I had finished the book and handed it to my coworker to read.
Seven months later, I had tried to get a hold of her but gotten nothing in return. I assumed she had my book, which meant she had my number. I put a library pouch in each book that leaves home, and I keep the slip with the name of the person borrowing the book. ( I use Knock Knock’s personal library kit from Amazon.) Not knowing what else to do, I finally went to the used book store and asked her mother to get my number to her- as she hadn’t worked with me for several months. This worked. The coworker- in her 20’s by the way- was shamed into answering me. She had left my signed edition in the locker when she quite work.
I had to beg a coworker and friend to go through the old lockers that hadn’t been reassigned. I hate myself for adding to her work load and I shouldn’t have done it. It was rude and unprofessional…. but I had never had a signed book before and, honestly, I loved that story. I had looked into replacing it, but the cheapest I found was $30; and that would have depleted my book money for the foreseeable future. After going through 30-some lockers, Donna found my book but there were complications. I hadn’t taken the price tag off- I rarely do as it can damage the book and I simply don’t care about it enough to risk that. The store wanted my receipt in order to return my book. Who keeps receipts for a book for seven months? Not me. I had to show them my library pouch, the card, and pray that they knew me well enough after seven years to know that I would never do anything against my company or my coworkers. I have the book back, but it was a hassle.
After this, I worry about lending books anymore. Obviously, any Walmart book will need the sticker peeled off and the receipt kept…. but the way I treat a loan may need reworked. How does everyone else deal with this?
- How long do you let a book stay out before asking after it? Mine were usually returned within weeks, so I never had to wonder about this. I think three months at the most from now on. Sometimes people read slowly, more often other aspects of life get in the way. I don’t want to hound people.
- Do you insist on a phone number? Most of my book buds are coworkers, so I never thought about it, you just talk to them at work right? But we don’t always stay with the same company for whatever reason. I think from now on I am going to have to.
- If you loan to a friend’s teen or child, is the parent the one responsible for the loan? Strange question, I know, but it is important. Many of the books I have are considered YA, or books that could be helpful to young readers. I have a deep love of mythology for example, and have several texts that have come in handy for book reports (many teachers demand at least one “real book” source instead of everything from the internet). If the book is damaged, is anyone responsible at all? If so, is it the reader or the parent?
- Would you mail a book to a friend? Personally, I don’t worry too much about what a book looks like so long as the pages are in tact and legible. I am a little in love with the idea of book mail but have rarely done it, and only with family. I believe I would, though, mail a book to a blog buddy so long as they were comfortable. What are your thoughts on this?
So what are your thoughts, guys? Am I overthinking this?
Talk to me,