Re-gifting books: yes or no?

Last updated 21:20 29/01/2014

Today's topic could potentially open up a can of worms. A can of literary worms, but still...wriggly worms.

How do you feel about "re-gifting" books? Despite having previously waxed lyrical about how giving people books as gifts can be a bad idea, unless you know the person well, I have been guilty of gifting books in the past. What can I say? I'm a hypocrite. A hypocrite, I tell you! 

I have also committed perhaps what is the cardinal sin for readers, that of re-gifting previously read books. Now, I am actually a very tidy reader. I don't dog-ear pages, I don't use books as impromptu drink coasters, I flick the pages carefully rather than blitz through like a reading tornado, and I lovingly dust the covers and edges when I remember to.

The result is that most of my books are in mint condition. They almost always look the same as the day I got them, apart from a few shameful little incidents. I'm looking at you, orange juice of doom.

So in the interest of a full confession, which I have been slowly waddling towards, I have to admit this: I have re-gifted books before. Feel free to come at me with your anvils of judgment!

Most of the time, the re-gifting comes about for practical reasons. It could be because the person has expressed an interest in a title I know I have at home, and I'm either a) low on cash, or b) it's a book I don't want to keep. Or I may have forgotten/been too busy to get them a gift, and happen to have something lying around I know they'll love or be perfect for the occasion.

At the risk of being called cheap, there is something I find rather quaint and endearing about re-gifting. Obviously there are rules too (I'll get to those in a minute), but re-gifting books is the ultimate form of literary recycling. When it's done properly and thoughtfully, it's kind to the environment and wallets. What's not to lik

There are, however, a few "rules" that should be observed. They are the same general rules you would follow when re-gifting anything. The first and most obvious: don't make the mistake of re-gifting books to the actual original giver.  It probably will make for some hilarious stories down the line, but...AWKWARD!

Then there's the fact that you probably shouldn't re-gift a book you find glaringly offensive, boring or some other unpleasant trait, unless you know that the recipient particularly wants a copy.

Always check that there are no personal messages inside the cover, or that there's no tell-tale dog-ears or scribbles. And if it's something that someone close to you has given, or holds special significance in some way, then don't feel obligated to give it away.

How do you feel about re-gifting books?

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