Contest: Most worn out book wins $100 prize

There is something depressing about seeing one of my books high on an office shelf, in perfect condition, covered in a layer of dust . I’m thrilled they were purchased of course, but there’s sadness there too.

Some people keep their favorite books in great condition, and that’s awesome. It’s an act of great respect.

But I admit I love seeing one of books all dogeared, with tabs, post-it notes, or even coffee-stains all over the place (Photo on right by Mattias). That’s a book that has lived and has spent long hours in use. It’s been lent to many people, traveled in buses and planes, and read by many sets of eyes.

In this spirit, I’m running a little contest.

The person will the most worn out, well used copy of one of my books wins:

  • $100 (Amazon Gift certificate)
  • A signed copy of the latest edition of that book (or other book of mine of your choice)

To enter:

  1. Leave a comment including a picture of your worn out book inline
  2. Include a link to your photo  (inline images isn’t working at the moment)


  1. It has to be a book I wrote
  2. You can’t go beat the crap out of an unused book simply to win
  3. Folded/marked/tabed/post-it noted pages count as much as wear
  4. Really, I’d just like to see how my books are being used. Photos of my books on your shelves are welcome too.

Let’s see what you got!

38 Responses to “Contest: Most worn out book wins $100 prize”

  1. Devdas Bhagat

    Huh? I take good care of my books. The only signs of decay in my books are either the paper falling apart, or the binding coming loose.

    And I re-read books. I read them, have a mental conversation with my thoughts and what was written, then leave the book, and come back for another round of conversation later.

    I have no need to mutilate my books, or to make them dog eared, or coffee stained.

    If you wouldn’t do it to your friends, don’t do it to your books.

  2. tiffehr

    I have a used copy that the previous owner’s dog chewed up. As the wear is not from human use, I won’t submit it to the contest. However, it does get people’s attention on in our team-aggregated library at work because of the “distressed” look.

  3. Scott Berkun

    Tiff: The rules don’t state unintentional dog abuse. Please put up a photo!

  4. Scott Berkun

    Devdas: I totally respect your respect for books. Didn’t mean to insult that respect by running a fun contest – don’t see them as mutually exclusive.

  5. Elizabeth

    I have two of your books, and they are all in good condition, although much loved! I used a tip from Confessions of a Public Speaker at a presentation I gave last night. I don’t write in books and unless it is course material I don’t stick tabs in them either. I do take notes, on a separate piece of paper tucked inside. I was taught always use a bookmark – never fold the corners! Please don’t think that there is sadness in a pristine copy – it’s simply that we value what you write enough to look after it.

  6. Scott Berkun

    Elizabeth: Oh dear – you and Devdas are making me feel bad. I just can’t think of a way to run a contest for “most pristine edition of a book” :( Thanks for reminding me wear isn’t the only sign of use.

    I updated the post to make it better reflect my mutual respect for books both well cared for and well worn.

  7. Kelly Vandever

    OK, Scott, unlike these other readers, I’m not afraid to make any book my own! I’ve marked up your book Confessions of a Public Speaker pretty nicely… on 52 different pages to be precise!

    I couldn’t figure out how to upload the photos here so you’ll have to check out the “Messing Up Scott Berkun’s Book – Confessions of a Public Speaker” photo album on my Facebook page for Communications for Everyone

    No coffee or food stains. But I underlined and wrote in the margins. I’m a wild reader. You can’t stop me! And if I win the book, I’ll do it again!!!

  8. Phil Weber

    You can’t tell from this photo, but there are a lot of fingerprints on the screen:

  9. Michael Gaigg

    Hey Scott, who would want a new (duplicated but signed) book of something grown so close and beloved because used and worn extensively?

    I, on the other hand, would loooove to win your latest “The Myths of Innovation” and in return promise you to read it, use it, scribble and post-it all over, wear it out beyond all recognition, coffee stains almost mandatory (in my case anyway), photo included, hardcover no problem either.

    Haha, great contest, great idea! Cheers.

  10. Steve L

    Tiff, dog-chewed is probably close enough to dog-eared that you could win this thing…

  11. Harris

    Hey Scott,

    I am going through your book Making Things Happen and has just reached the half way mark.

    I understand from where Devdas and Elizabeth are coming from as I hate to see my books worn out or even pages folded as per bookmarks but recently I borrowed a friend’s book and saw it underlined and scribbled all across, my first reaction was of anger to see a book raped like that and had a hot discussion with him about it, but when I picked up your book and saw quite a few useful things in their which I can use on daily basis. I understood why my friend put notes on the book and I have started it now.

    I have uploaded a couple of pictures for you

    And I second Michael on getting a book which we do not already have. So if I win send “The Myths of Innovation” :)

    –Harris M Qureshi

  12. Albert lee

    Awwww. I have your books on my kindle. It will never get worn out :(

  13. Simon

    Love it! I have a camera that is all scratched up because it’s in my pocket wherever I go. My drum kit is covered in dents and scratches from all the gigging and the cases are covered in mud from the festivals. I’m able to recognise my stuff from a line up because of all of my personal imperfections.

    I don’t go out of my way to mess my stuff up, of course, but I’m not going to cry about it when things happen either. Stuff is meant to be used!

  14. Cassle

    I appreciate this contest idea! I got your point, but sometimes people love their books so much. Hence, they usually place it on a nice shelf, or read it very carefully, especially when they afford it with high price. Okay, I just want to be honest, most great books like yours are double in price when they arrived around here. Not only the price, it’s also hard to inquiry import books (took months and sometimes even not available). Some people tried to buy online, but when it arrived, it will be scratched everywhere (usually because of ‘cruel’ security check). So, I guess your international readers won’t be able to win on this competition. No one will ever hurt their precious assets, right?

  15. Scott Berkun

    Daniel: You get an F for reading comprehension. Contest is for books with my name on it, not just any book you own.

  16. Daniel Howard

    Doh, I missed that bullet point, sorry Scott! Please nuke my previous comments. :/

  17. Giuseppe Maxia

    Too bad! Taking advantage of an offer from O’Reilly, I bought an electronic copy of “Making things happen” and “Confessions of a public speaker”. Then I gave the paper versions to friends who could benefit from it.
    Besides, I would not qualify. I keep my books in good shape. My copy of “The Myths of innovation” is as good as new, although I have gone through it twice.

    Now I have to find a way of making my e-books look as if they have served their purpose …


  18. Nikki Chau

    What if you’ve got a digital copy? Can I send in pics of the coffee (and other drinks) spilled on my laptop and phone?

  19. Sara Vermeylen

    Hey Scott,

    This is SO MUCH my cup of tea. I’ll upload a picture when I’m at home.

    It’s become a coloring book. And it’s not my kids that are responsible for that.

  20. Michael Hodgson

    Well, despire its pristine condition, I’d noticed that the one book of yours I have, kept floating to the top of the pile.

    I say pile, I mean mountain of almost all the books I have which are piled up in the room I’m turning into an office. I seem to keep picking yours out of the middle, in a jenga-like motion, before replacing it at the top after yet another skim.

    AND I planned to take a picture of this today before I finally got most of them onto the newly completed and positioned shelves. I did not.

    And in a reverse karmic way, I don’t know where it is right now. Not to worry, good luck to all, and whoever wins – enjoy.

  21. Cassle

    Wow, what a full-of-writing book! If I could vote, Sara Vermeylen has a big chance for this. (I almost didn’t recognize that it’s The Myths of Innovation, isn’t it?)

  22. Sara Vermeylen

    Cassie, thanks! …I think :-)

    The Myths of Innovation for sure. Shows how inspiring it is, no?

  23. Richard

    I’m not an actual valid contestant, but I’d like to point out, as a new-book-shelver that even though a book remains untouched, the message could be delivered and even grow onto a self developed way of thinking: then the book’s purchaser only favors(as fb like or bookmarks) this piece in the most expensive way, yet to you may count as a “I agree with your message/idea”… a more positive failure. Bye!

  24. Samson Loo

    I own a copy of Confessions of a Public Speaker but the Kindle version. I need to find a way to make the Kindle look withered.

  25. Yousef Omar

    Well, I always keep my books tidy and clean! What do I do in order to win?? I’ve read Confessions of a Public Speaker like 3 times, and it stills shines like brand new. Scott, at least you could gimme a 20 $ gift certificate :P

  26. Michael

    Hi Scott!

    I also try to keep my books in a good shape ;-)

    Very good book with a lot of usefull information for my job. I really like it and I will practise!

    I have started to write down the most important points on index cards, that I later on enter into EverNote.

    I learn by reading and writing ;-)

  27. Jan V.

    Have a ‘scrapbook’ version myself, but can’t beat the pictures posted here…

    @Sara, you’ve got some interesting annotations! (I’m Dutch too).



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