MAN! You just hit a BIG nerve… I'm so covetous of my books, I can barely let them out of my sight. They're my children. I've seen people throw books in the bin, and I've fished them out and taken then home, where they will be loved!
The thought that someone would admit to book thieving in broad daylight astounds me too. *shock* *horror*. The shame! I have piles and piles of books all over my house. I even have duplicate copies of favourites, just in case. And I still won't lend those to dodgy Elf-types.
In fact, I’ve been known to surreptitiously go through friends bookshelves to whom I've lent books in the past – if I find one of "my" books, I'll expropriate it back without telling them… seriously!
2. Get them out the trash
I always give books back but I had a friend, "had" being the operative word, who wanted to loan two books from me. After getting the whole lecture about people not returning books and how I hate it etc etc I loaned her the books.
Luckily my daughter was there on their moving day because lo and behold there is one of my books on the trash pile! At least I got one back and the next time she asked for a book or two I told her promptly that I had not received the other two back yet! Cheek if you ask me!!
3. Lay down rules
I agree with you completely, there is nothing more frustrating than people who don't return books. I do know some people like that and feel that I can never share what I've read lately in case they ask for it.
It's also quite disappointing when an otherwise wonderful, sensitive human being disregards the unspoken rules that govern borrow-a-book-from-a-friend:
1. Take care of that book as if it were printed in gold
2. Read it as quickly as you can, so that you can return it as soon as possible
4. Release them
To prevent the problem of book thieving among my friends – I have a 'read and release programme' running – sometimes more successful than others.
I try, very hard, to simply release books I have read into the circle of reader friends, rather than lend them out. It's a noble idea but man oh man is it hard sometimes. But books do deserve to be free and to be read by many rather than growing old and dusty on a bookshelf.
5. Get anal
Like you, nothing infuriates me more than when someone you like (and stupidly trust enough) to lend a precious book too couldn't be bothered to return it, passes it on to someone else or loses it.
It makes me see red. Now I keep a little index book and whenever I lend a book to someone I make notes of who the book has been lent to along with the title and I make the person sign for the book.
Anal I know but dammit, it is my book and books are very expensive which makes them even more precious to me as I cannot afford to buy as many as I would like to. My dream is to be rich enough buy any book I want whenever I want.
6. Get even more anal
I keep an old-fashioned visitors' book where I record who borrowed any book or DVD from me. My Jane Austen DVDs and Neil Gaiman books are what I keep behind my "not to borrowed" desk.
I love and loathe my Kalahari.net wishlist as it's an awesome number of books and DVDs that I DEARLY WANT but can only put on a fantasy list – I've mentally added the actor Alan Rickman to the list too, he could read me myfavourites.
7. Get out the hot poker
. . . and I thought I needed therapy for my aversion to book thieves. I would rather stick hot pokers in my eye than lend a book to a book thief. Mind you, now that I think about it, maybe I should be threatening them with the hot poker treatment.
8. And the most passionate of all was Debbie, who gets her own article.
Have any more other methods of getting rid of or dealing with book-thieving syndrome? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box below.