Recently, like the good little eco-warrior I aspire to be, I have taken to buying used books. (I'm not exactly sure if this is good for the planet, but I figure it probably does something to take a book off of someone else's hands instead of letting them throw it away.) It started last month with a textbook, and continued now with a book on prostitution and a book of essays.
Now. I'm not one to make sweeping generalizations (ha!) over something as trivial as looks (haha!). But, after seeing, handling, and reading these three books, I noticed each and every single one has some defect: stains, tears, dog-ears, folds, bends, rips, rolled spines, creases, fingerprints, smudged ink, and/or dead moths stuck between the pages. Yes. Dead moths. My question is: why must people treat their books like this? What did their books ever do to them? Do they objectify books, thinking they're only there to serve whatever purpose they decide? Like napkins or fly-swatters? Do they have an ever-brewing hatred for education and express it subconsciously by treating the tokens of said education like shit? Used clothing is typically in good condition. Used DVDs? Usually perfect. But books? Books seem to always be in a terrible condition. There was not one used book I saw in three stores that didn't have some overt damage. Surely there are those out there who have books that look like new even after extended use? They're not that delicate.
Maybe I'm neurotic (maybe?) or odd, but...well, I'm definitely odd, but in any event I try to keep my books in as good condition as possible. Maybe out of respect, but mainly because I want to keep things nice. I've never been one to intentionally influence another's habits or practices (ha!), but in all honesty I don't see how one can find it acceptable to put superfluous wear and tear on something they own. Not only that, these people, these people who don't respect their belongings, are obviously the ones who sell their books to stores to be resold. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know personally I don't have the most enjoyable time reading a book that was soiled by a stranger. It stands to reason that others do not have a good time with this either, and it also stands to reason that fewer people will buy used books for this reason. And that's no good, is it? Is it?
Do your books a favor: treat them right. They're only there to serve, and they deserve your best.