Natasha over at Maw's Book Blog has a great post about loaning books out. I have so many things to say about it that I didn't comment there, instead deciding to post my own thoughts on this topic.
First of all, I do loan books out. There are a few friends out there who I trust to take care of my books (after all I feel as though my books are my friends) and know they will return them. However, when I do loan things out, I am always worried they won't come back. Even as a child I hated loaning things out. My sister often wanted to read my books and my parents would make me allow her to borrow them (I can see their point: we didn't need two copies and the library didn't always have the same things I did for my sister to borrow from). I would in turn make my sister sign a contract agreeing to a variety of things. We have come across these contracts a few times as adults and my husband usually has a good laugh about it.
There were a few times I got burned when I loaned things out. I can still remember exactly who never returned some of my books, and it is years since these events happened. My own mother in law borrowed a copy of Judy Blume's Summer Sisters several years ago. It was a brand new book. I had not read it. I even wrote my name in the cover. When I asked for it back, after a few months, she informed me that she gave it to her friend because it was that friend's book. I couldn't believe it. I probably stewed about this for days. The obvious answer (at least to me) would be to ask that friend to have Summer Sisters back, since my name was in it, it would be obvious that it was mine. Well, she didn't think she could do that. (Huh?) "What should she do?" she asked me. Well, the next obvious answer (at least to me) would be to replace the book that was lost. Now, this was not an expensive book, and I could have bought another copy, but the idea that my book was just given away was so annoying to me. I have never given her another book to borrow. Petty? Probably. However, I don't think she gets my attachment to books, so I don't plan on giving her any others to lose or give away.
I totally understand the idea of loaning books out. It makes sense that not everyone has to buy a copy of a book. Perhaps I should try borrowing books from people sometimes instead of being the one to lend books out. I know it would save me a lot of money. However, then I wouldn't be able to look through my books again and again and revisit old friends.