October 8, 2009

Burning Question - RPG Books: Precious Gems or Just Dead Trees?

I had just recently receive my hardcopy of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook a couple weeks ago after waiting over a month for it to arrive. Since I bought it though, I haven't even opened the wrapping around it. This is probably the most extreme case of how I treat my books but when I do get a new book, it is put into caring hands.

I don't put them on dusty surfaces, wash my hands before reading them, try not to crack the book too wide and I'm hesitant to even fold a page that I'm reading. One of my players share this trait of mine saying that books are too previous. To him, each book is also part of a collection that needs to be well taken care of.

Conversely, my brother doesn't give any respect to the dead trees. He cracks, rubs his boggers off the pages and does other things when reading the book that would make a book lover commit murder. To him, a book is just a book and doesn't deserve any kind of special treatment.

So I decided to ask this question to other gamers and see how do they treat their books.

RPG Books: Precious Gems or Just Dead Trees?

Here are some quotes of those who believe that they are gems.
precious gems, some of my books are kept in sealed plastic. I still have some books from the early 80's with little sign of wear - jonathanshade (via Twitter)
Precious gems. Honestly, I treat all of my books that way. I don't write or highlight, and do my best to keep them in pristine condition. If there's any damage, it was usually there when I bought the book. - karlindel (via ENWorld)
I treat them well. I don't write in them, I don't bend them, or toss them around. I treat all my stuff well it's just habit. I like nice things. - Crothian (via ENWorld)

Some were taught that books are not only gems but sacred.
I've been instilled since a young age to treat all books as sacrosanct, e.g. not write in them, fold pages, etc - asmor (via Twitter)
Heh, my mom's a librarian. She'd whack me with a shoe if she saw me writing in my books. I've always treated my books with a heavy dose of respect. - Hussar (via ENWorld)

There are gamers who believe in treating their books well but are not above writing on them.
All of my books are precious gems to me! I keep them all in the best shape I can. I only write my name in the books I know other players in the group have to keep them seperated. - DEP (via ENWorld)
Well, you can definitely tell which of my books have seen heavy use. I also don't mind making notes or applying errata right into the books.

But they're still precious to me in a way. So far I've never thrown away a single one even if they're in tatters. - Jhaelen (via ENWorld)

If a book is broken then fix it.
I will admit that I do write in my books, but that is because I treat them as working books; I treat them them very well otherwise (people are often impressed with how well the bindings of my older rpgs are holding up, but I am a Master of Marginalia. Must be the medievalist in me. - Wombat (via ENWorld)
I don't treat em special. If they start falling apart, Glue, staples, wire, drills and duct tape will be used to keep them in functional condition. - frankthedm (via ENWorld)

On the other end of the spectrum, books are just dead trees.
I freely write, highlight, and annotate them. I carry them around on occasion, and they get banged up. I don't really worry about them being damaged, until they start falling apart.

More or less, I treat them like I treated my college textbooks... except I open them more. - Obryn (via ENWorld)

And can have multipurposes...
dead trees. non water proof dead trees. My rpg books have been coloring books for my son lately. - kaeosdad (via Twitter)
I treat them like pooh-pooh.

Write notes in the margin, do math in the margins, highlight important parts, fold pages for place holds, put sticker tabs on all the chapter pages for easy access. I even used a book to coral a spilled drink from splashing over the table onto the floor/rug once or twice. I mean it's just a book, not a newborn. - Woas (via ENWorld)

I know I won't be lending him any of my books. But overall, I think it's important to strike a balance to how we see our books. It's good to take care of them to maintain their fine condition but it is meant to be used so don't be too cautious.

This guy gives a good idea.
I'm generally a bit anal when it comes to my RPG books. Most of my books are still in excellent condition. The two exceptions to this is the Magic Item Compendium, which has slightly frayed corners and my Shackled City Adventure Path hardcover which has started to wear along most of the edges of the hardcover. I think this damage has come as a result of them travelling in my backpack (the SCAP book has seen a lot of travel with me as I prep on the train to and from work). I have considered buying another SCAP hardcover to keep on my shelf since this first one has really started to get trashed but I haven't been able to justify the cost to myself just yet.

I never write in my RPG book, not even just putting my name on the inside of the front cover. I've used post-it-notes and post-it-flags in them before though. At the table I'm happy for players to use my books as I like to see them get used. However if they've just been eating something greasy or sticky I won't hesitate to ask them to wash their hands first. I do ask nicely though!

I am very, very reluctant to lend my books out to anyone due to a couple of bad experiences. When I lent my 2E AD&D core rulebooks to a friend back when I was a teenager they were returned with 2 of the spines cracked. On another occasion a few years later I lent a friend the Kingdom of Kalamar Campaign Setting. The spine of that book isn't quite right either now. As a result I almost never lend out my books. If I do I make sure the person borrowing them knows of my previous experiences with lending my books and that I would be very unhappy if I got books back in that condition again.

Overall though I don't mind if my books get damaged due to wear and tear from using them. I just try and take precautions so that they stay in excellent condition for as long as possible. - Olaf the Stout (via ENWorld)

Thanks to all who took the time to answer the question but let's get more answers.

What about you? How do you treat your books?

1 comment:

David said...

I treat my books very well. Pages never get folded or dog eared. Most books never receive the touch of a pen. Books that are loaned out have my name in them, a few have been signed by authors, and some get notations written in them. This last happens most often to adventures. I also dust them, and make liberal use of bookmarks rather than leaving them open.