I borrowed a coworker's book ( don't know this coworker super well) and spilled coffee on the book. Should I just go online and buy a new one or try and explain/apologize and return the book?
Personally, I would just give the book back, plus a bookseller's gift card covering the current price of a new copy of the book, plus any tax & shipping.
Of course, the book in question could be out of print, so you'd have to check its availability and its current price on the website of your chosen bookseller.
Then, the recipient can decide what to spend the gift card on. If the recipient says he doesn't need to replace the book and tries to give you back the gift card, just say "Then use the gift card on something else."
I say this because I would really be annoyed if someone spilled coffee on one of my books. But at the same time, I would be really annoyed too if someone tried replacing a particular book I no longer cared for.
In my case, since I live in a country served by Amazon, I'd probably just buy an Amazon gift card (assuming my co-worker wasn't militantly anti-Amazon), this way, my co-worker wouldn't even have to buy a book if they didn't want to. They could just buy a bunch of flowers for their mom/significant other, or buy a box of chocolate for the office, or just re-gift the gift card to their babysitter or something.
Should I just go online and buy a new one or try and explain/apologize and return the book?
No need to guess: just apologize and ask: "Hey Alice, I'm really sorry but I spilled coffee on your book. Can I just buy you a new one? "
And then Alice will say something like
- Sure, that will be fine
- Don't worry about it, I don't mind coffee stains
- What book, I totally forget about this
- Let me take a look
- Something completely different, who knows ?
Just let them tell you what they want to happen and if it's reasonable, just do that.
I would just buy them a new copy AND explain the situation as you hand them the new book.
You don't want to put them in a situation where they feel compelled to say: "Oh, that's alright, don't worry about it." But where they are actually annoyed and carry a resentment.
I would actually be annoyed that someone put me in a position where I would be obliged to be polite and insist the book didn't need to be replaced.
I would not simply buy one, as this could be a waste of money - depends if she even cares about the book anymore.
But definitely tell her you are sorry and that you will buy her a new one - and do so if she doesn't stop you from doing it. So don't ask if she wants a new one, but say you will buy it, and see what she says.