I am an aficionado of used books, but I have had to close library books for stains and, yes, boogers. Do I still borrow and read them? Yes, but not the more popular titles if I can help it. There is even a new-books bookstore around here -- which is to remain unnamed -- where the staff reads the new hardcovers and replaces them on the shelf, so that I have bought hardcovers and found crumbs inside. Which is especially a bitch if you're buying as a gift, and the recipient asks, How was it? in an arch tone.
My opinion of the Underworld chapter-missing fiasco is that the previous owner was probably trying to save his or her shoulders or elbows from nerve damage, lugging that tome in a bag of some kind. Maybe books of that length should be sold in commuter packages, bindings that come apart chapter by chapter, but can be re-inserted.
From the Guardian blogs:
Second-hand books threaten even worse perils than stains and creases, though. Before I finally vowed to never buy second-hand again, I purchased a copy of Don Dellilo's Underworld from a charity shop. Only after reading hundreds of pages did I discover that the former owner had kindly torn out the final chapter. Worse still, I've lost count of the amount of times that I've been confronted by the dried-up bogey of the previous owner, smeared across one of the pages. Nice.
The comments are especially funny -- "libraries as shelters for victims of the knowledge economy," and, "s'not funny," e.g.
"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield