A Stern Talking-To…From A Book Lover To Book Damagers

Nothing will ever replace the pleasure of holding a book in my hands.

No eReader or whatever other technology comes along next week will ever replace the tactile experience of holding a book and turning the pages, while I’m immersed in the world captured between a book’s hard or soft covers.

I know eReaders have their upside, and I’m not saying I’ll never use one.

But having a book in my hands – no eReader can compete with that.

I love books.  All books.

That doesn’t mean I read all books, or love all the books I read.  But books have been my constant companions since I was a kid, and I mean the walk-into-the-library-and-take-a-book-off-the-shelf kind of book.

And speaking of library books…

This is directed toward the – sadly – many people who, for reasons I can’t comprehend, deface library books.

You deface them with pen, pencil and/or highlighters.  You dog-ear corners and/or tear out a page, or pages.  You bend and then break the spines. 

Then you return the book to the library.  Sometimes a book is so damaged that library staff must remove it from circulation and, hopefully, have the budget to replace it.

Otherwise, staff will make an effort to ameliorate the damage, and return the book to circulation.

The latter is the case with this library book, Potshot by Robert B. Parker:

When I first picked up the book, I glanced at a mark on the cover and thought it was part of the design – the title is Potshot, it’s a detective story, and there’s what looks like a gunshot hole as part of the cover image.

But I immediately realized – no.  That mark was not part of the cover design.

The mark was…a cigarette burn:

What angry or frustrated or I-don’t-know-what-kind-of person would deliberately press a cigarette into the cover of a book and burn a hole in it?

Was it the same person who did this to the book:

And this:

And this:

Or did several sick, sad people contribute to the book’s sad state?

This is far from the first damaged library book I’ve seen, but by far, it’s the most egregious.

A cigarette burn?

So here’s my message to you book damagers:

The book you’re holding is an inanimate object.  It has nothing to do with the rage or frustration or whatever it is you’re feeling.

The book you’re holding doesn’t belong to you.  It belongs to the taxpayers whose hard-earned dollars support the library.

The book you’re holding – and damaging – isn’t conveying your message to its subsequent readers.  All it’s conveying is that a sick person – you – was allowed to get a library card, and has abused the privilege.

Stop taking your problems out on our library books.

Take your problems somewhere else.

This would be a good place to start:

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