ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Book Etiquette

Updated on April 4, 2015
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is an experienced writer with nearly a decade of writing experience and degrees in accounting, history and creative writing.

Most people would be surprised that there is actually etiquette for books.  They do not realize that books need to be treated a special way and handled carefully.  Without care and tenderness they will be damaged and lost for good.


You are in the middle of reading your book of the week.  You need to stop and cook dinner.  What do you normally do?  Turn the corner of the page down.  NO!  Don’t you hear the book crying in pain?  You are damaging the pages of the book each time you dog-ear a page.  Over time the page corner becomes weak and will eventually tear off. 

Protect your books by using a bookmark instead.  A precious picture can be used, a ticket stub from a favorite movie, or choose one of thousands of bookmarks that can reflect your personality.  Do not let your books be damaged because you do not want to reach for a bookmark.  Keep one with your book at all times. 

Book Covers

You take your books with you where ever you go.  They are exposed to so much.  Keep your books protected with a book cover.  Use cloth ones as they protect better.  Stretch ones have a tendency to bend the covers and damage the corners of the books.  A cloth book cover keeps dust, liquid, and other damaging elements away from the book.  They are washable and even might have a handle to aid in carrying your book around.

They are easily made, too.  There are various patterns out there to make your own book cover.  You can decorate it and personalize it to reflect the reader.

Clean Hands

Good hygiene is a necessity for protecting your books.  If you do not open your book with clean hands, you are transferring all that is on your hands to the pages of the book.  Any grease, food, ink, or coloring of any kind is easily absorbed by the pages.  You do not realize how horrible it is to open a book to enjoy and see the remains of someone’s meal across the last paragraph of an intense chapter. 

Keep your books clean by just washing your hands before sitting back to read.  This is treating the book well and showing respect to other readers.

Keep on Shelves

When we are reading, it is not uncommon to find ourselves just laying books where ever we happen to finish reading them.  Keeping them on a shelf or on a particular table that is safe is the option to go.  Why?  This protects them.

When a book is laid on a table or on the floor, it can be stepped on, have drinks spilt on it, available for pets and children to get at.  You are increasing the risk of damage being given to the book.  By keeping it on the shelf you are protecting the book and giving a safe and secure resting place.


Are you one to write in the margins of your book or to underline a great passage?  This is actually damaging your book.  The ink or the marker leaks through pages and weakens the pages. 

If you love to take notes, keep a journal with you or in your book bag along with a pen.  Jot down the information you want to remember, the name of the book, the page number, the date your read it, and your thoughts on it.

You can protect your book and glean knowledge.

Keep from Animals and Bugs

Damage to books can come from animals and pests.  Dogs love to chew.  Give them the chance to get their teeth on a book and they will not turn it down.  Hardcovers are especially tempting.  Their teeth love it.  If they are not looking at it to chew, they might use as a place to relieve themselves.  Keep the books on the shelves and keep them protected.

Bugs can also be a problem.  They love to eat at the paper in the books.  Keep your books located on a shelf.  If possible have a bookshelf with glass coverings.  Regularly dust the books and keep them pest free.

Protect from Children

We love to expose our children to the love of books.  We need to slowly do this.  Do not leave books where children can just walk up and grab them.  Odds are that they have not washed their hands before opening it.  They like to eat and read.  They do not try to keep them clean.  Keep the books from the children and teach them book etiquette.  Give them a wonderful gift – protecting their books.

Careful Turning of Page

The plot is thickening.  You are engrossed in the action before you.  As you get to the bottom of the page, the secret is revealed on the next page.  You turn the page.  How do you turn it?  Many will wet their fingers and turn the pages.  Other will bend the corners as they continue on their merry reading way.  This is not how to turn a page.

Turn a page carefully and deliberately.  By doing so you are protecting your pages for when you to re-read the book or loan it out for someone else to enjoy.  Treat your book with love and it will give in return.

Do Not Lay Book Flat

When we need to just step away from our books for a minute or two, we have a tendency to lay the book open flat with those precious pages faced down.  The spine screams in agony as lays in a position it is not meant to be in.

Use a bookmark in this case and you will keep the spine and the binding intact.  You will be able to enjoy this book longer and spread the love.

Remove from Shelf Carefully

Taking a book off the shelf, we usually reach up and pull on the top part of the spine.  
We do not think much of it.  But in reality we are damaging the spine and the binding.

Pulling on a spine weakens the binding.  This leads to the books falling apart much quicker.  Protect the book by pulling on the entire cover where the greatest strength lies.  Pulling on one small section is damaging.

Dust Jackets

If you are like me, you get frustrated with dust jackets.  They get in the way of your reading.  You might remove them or even use them as the bookmark.  Avoid this if possible.

Dust jackets are designed to protect the book.  They keep the elements off of it and keep the hardcover book in good condition.  They are not designed to frustrate the reader.  They are there as protectors.

They Are Not Coasters

The books you read are not coasters.  They are for reading enjoyment.  They are not for you to rest your drink.  This damages the book.

Purchase coasters and keep them nearby to use instead.  You can a variety of styles and shapes.  Use them instead of your book.  Keep the drink ring off the cover and keep from destroying the book by drink that escapes.

Treat Them Well

Treat your books well.  Treat them kindly.  They are offering you a way into worlds unknown.  Do not throw this gift back into their faces.

Learn book etiquette.  Teach your children how to love and respect books.  They can last for centuries with the right care.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

      I'll never forget a favorite elementary school teacher saying over and over again, "Books are friends..." Thanks for reinstating that in my mind! I tend to forget (as I have unfortunately committed almost every one of the above stated crimes!!!) and books are very precious indeed!

    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 7 years ago from Windermere, FL

      Good advice. If I own the book, I may write in it, underline or do whatever I want. But if it is a loaned out copy, I agree with you. One shouldn't mark up such books. Don White

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Good hub. I've bought so many used books, and I can always tell how well or poorly they've been handled. It takes a real booklover like you and myself to appreciate how to handle a book properly. Thank you for writing this hub.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 7 years ago

      I wish I'd thought of writing this one!:)

      You've said all the things about book etiquette that I feel so strongly about!

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Good hub. I'll admit, I'm pretty weird about my books...I rarely lend them out, and only to a few trusted friends. When you get one back where someone has dogeared a page, it makes my skin crawl, lol.

    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      Very good information here. Thank you!