Tips for Book Giving this Holiday Season

Well readers, I have returned from Germany. I have stories to tell you, but I must sort through my many photographs first. In the meantime, let give you a special Christmas-based post for those of you who haven’t completed your shopping list.

Books! If you’ve got that one friend or relative that just loves to read, a new book might seem like the best possible thing to get them this holiday season. Yet you can’t just go and grab something from the “Best Seller” shelves. Everyone has different tastes. You really need to know someone well to pick a good book for them. Here are my recommendations for proper book gifting.

  • If You Can, Get A List: An avid reader is always looking for the next book to add to their collection. Online shoppers will have wish lists. Your friend might have several books they’re excited for. They might have some books by authors they want to check out, but are unsure if they want to spend money on something they might not enjoy. When the holidays come along, I usually stop buying books all together, informing people I know that there’s a book by such-and-such author that I’m interested in. Granted, I am also notoriously difficult to buy for in my circle, so it’s only fair that I do this.
  • No List? Know Their Authors: As I mentioned, some readers will actively stop buying books close to the holidays season, so if your relative likes Author A, and Author A is releasing a new book around that time, you have an idea of what you could get them. Maybe Author A is one of those Terry Pratchett types with a series spanning dozens of books. Find out which ones your friend has and give them one to add to the collection.
  • Know What They’re Into: This follows up with Number 2, as knowing what kind of authors they like can be key in finding them a new book. You shouldn’t just buy your fantasy-loving friend a new fantasy book at random. It might suck. Or be the wrong type of fantasy. A good rule of thumb is to know some of their favourite books. Most websites have a section called “Readers Also Liked…” when you look up certain books. This section will highlight books with similar styles and story lines. From there, you can pick something they might find interesting.

This also saves you from another pitfall. If you get them a book from a genre they don’t like, they probably won’t enjoy your gift. Knowing someone tried to put thought into a book-y gift for you, only for the book to be disappointing, isn’t a very nice feeling.

  • Be Careful With Autographs: Say you’re at the book store, and there’s an author promoting their new book. You think that your friend would really like this author. Not only that, you can get them to sign it, personalize it even! How great!

Except, not really. If this is an author your friend knows and likes, then it’s a fantastic idea. However, a personalized autograph makes it harder for someone to justify donating the book if they don’t like it. If they dislike what you got them, not only do they feel bad about it, but they also feel somewhat obligated to keep the book because the autograph is made out to them. It sucks having to hold onto a book you don’t really like. If you want to get the book signed, maybe just stick to a basic autograph.

(Obviously, not everyone will have an issue with this, but it is something to consider.)

  • Just Ask Them: While this is pretty closely related to Number 1, it has less surprise to it. You can get wish lists from people closely related to your friend, and family wish lists will probably have more than just books. I like to think Number 1 requires more subtlety. This method could make your gift obvious.
  • Gift Cards: Unless you know someone’s reading habits very well, this is probably your best bet. Give them a good amount of money and let them run free. They will be happy for it. (On a personal level, this is my default gift. No one knows what to get me? Chapters Gift Card. Boom. Done.)

Keep these in mind and you should be able to get your favourite bookworm the best new addition to their no doubt ample collection.

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