With the holidays rapidly approaching, I’m working on my gift list for all the people in my life. Since I happen to be rather fond of books, you know those are generally my first gift choices. However, books as gifts require a good deal of thought. To make it a little easier, I’ve got Five Questions to Ask When Buying Books for Someone Else.
With this question, you have the obvious: adult or child, male or female. Clearly I’m not going to give the same book to my nine-year-old as I would to my mother-in-law.
Let’s take it few steps deeper, though. Is this person you’re buying for a regular reader or a reluctant reader? Have they mentioned favorite books or authors? Have they talked about how they wish they could read more or wish they could find books they enjoy? You’ll want to take each of these aspects into consideration as you consider the right book.
You also have to think about who they are on a deeper level. What are their hobbies, passions, interests? If your friend spent several of their young adult days in the Peace Corps in rural parts of Asia, they may be more drawn to biographies of people who have left comfort to help others than to a flippant quick read about the plights and perils of dating in the United States. Then again, maybe that friend prefers their reading to be on the lighter side!
We live in a time where our reading options are widely diverse … and not just in content!
You can read your favorite book or the latest release in either hardcover or paperback, download it to a variety of e-readers or even listen to it read via CDs or an app on your phone or computer.
You may think this is a simple choice. It may not be.
Some people do have a strong preference.
For example, I would much rather have a paperback version than any of the others. I am thankful for e-books, though, because I am able to get many more books than I would have before. Plus, it sure does make packing easier! When it comes down to it, though, give me a soft, flexible paperback to sniff … I mean, read.
Preferences may change depending on the book.
Using myself as an example again: if I’m getting an all-time favorite book, I would much rather have a hardcover version or an early edition or a signed edition. Let’s just say you wanted to give me a signed first edition of The Hobbit. First, I would kiss you and then faint … or vice versa. That would be a great example of a book that would be best given as a special version for me.
If your friend has followed a certain author for the past 20 years and already has all the hardcovers that are out, you’ll want to make sure you buy the hardcover to match her set.
As I said, most other books, I would rather have in paperback format. But, if you’re wanting me to check out your absolute favorite Indie author, but you’re not entirely sure if I’ll like her or not and she’s written 20 books and you want me to have them all … you may want to go with e-books.
Or, let’s say you were in my life about a year ago and magically knew ahead of time that I would be spending a lot of time traveling by myself to visit an ill mother, you may have chosen the audiobook version of War and Peace. (Is there an audiobook version of War and Peace?)
Anyway, I hope you see what I mean. The person’s preference and even season in life may change what type of book you purchase for them.
The type may depend on the book as well.
Not all books have all four options.
While audiobooks are definitely rising in popularity, that may still be the least likely available option. Some authors choose to only release e-versions … no killing trees for them. And, certain genres simply will never produce hardcover versions of their books because those readers are just fine with their paperbacks, thank you very much.
Lest you thought I forgot … there are large print AND braille versions of some books as well. If you have a friend who prefers one of these, you may have to do your research to determine where and what books you can get for them.
As I write this post, we’re preparing for the Christmas holidays in the United States. But, you may be reading this two-and-a-half years from now. Or, you may not celebrate Christmas or any other winter gift-giving holiday.
However, if you are reading this, chances are quite high that you plan to give a book as a gift for some reason.
So, let’s think of all those possible reasons! Your friend or loved one may have a special occasion coming up, such as a big birthday or anniversary. They may be expecting a big life event like a graduation, new job, marriage, move or birth of a child. That big event may have come in the form of a tremendous loss. We have all the major holidays scattered throughout the year, as well.
Your friend may have a big trip coming up or a surgery that will force them to stay in bed for a while. Either of these would be perfect times to catch up on their reading!
Of course, giving books doesn’t require a special occasion. If someone popped up and handed me a book today, I’d be thrilled!
Regardless of the reason—or the “just because”—it may influence what kind of book you choose. Nonfiction or fiction, serious or light.
That’s a wonderful question, isn’t it?
(When it’s not demanded by a toddler at regular 10-second intervals for hours on end.)
Why would you like to gift this special person a book? I thought of three main reasons we may choose to go the book route as opposed to the simpler gift card route, for instance.
We choose to give books to … increase or fuel the love of reading.
I’ve seen the excitement in a child’s eyes when they’ve either just learned to read on their own or they’ve just discovered the joy of reading. They long for more!
Adults who didn’t discover that joy until later in life experience something similar. Once they have that first positive experience, all they want is more.
I’ve also seen the benefits in people whose family and friends constantly fed their fire for the written word. Either those readers have become writers or teachers or they’re sharing the love of books with others. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
I’m living proof of that!
We choose to give books to … create a love of reading.
Some people just need the right books in their life … or the right kind of encouragement to accept those books.
When you encounter a reluctant reader—whether they are a child or an adult—and you choose to pour thought into a book choice for them, you are planting a seed of something special.
Now, not everyone will devour Shakespeare or check their way through the Top 1,000 Classics list. But, everyone should have the opportunity to see reading in a positive light. At the very least, you will open up the door to a whole new world for them.
In the case of some people, part of their reluctance could be that no one ever invested the time into them to help them master reading on their own. Illiteracy—even among adults in the United States—is unfortunately not that uncommon. So, your gift may require more of a time commitment than a monetary investment.
We choose to give books to … share something important or special.
Do you have a favorite author?
If you’re still reading this post of mine, I’m pretty positive that answer is an emphatic YES! You probably have more than one. There’s probably a classic author whose works you’ve devoured on multiple occasions. I’m guessing you likely have a favorite current author or two as well—perhaps someone whose next book you’ve already got preordered.
You may simply want to share the joy you feel about that favorite author’s works with someone special. You’ll chat about the books over tea. Already, you have planned to ask them to call you after Chapter 22 because you just know they’ll want to talk about the tragedy or shocking revelation or whatever it may be.
Maybe your friend is considering starting a business. You did the same thing five years ago, but you wouldn’t have made it this far without a certain book.
Perhaps you read a book every year at Christmas with your children. It’s become a beautiful tradition you look forward to every year. Now, maybe they’ve grown up and they have their own family. It’s time they have a new copy to begin their own family’s memories.
I’m sure there are many more reasons we choose to give books as gifts. At the end of the day, though, you may be wondering if they’ll be as excited about it as you are.
What if their eyes glaze over, and your book gift goes in the pile of socks and fruitcake?
Well, I can’t say that won’t hurt.
I can also say that if you’ve asked yourself all these questions and put great care and thought into your choice for them, that book may just become one of their most cherished gifts.
At the end of the day, you’ve considered who they are on multiple levels and what they mean to you. Your passion and excitement will shine brighter than the sparkly bow you chose, and you can observe the power in giving a gift of the written word.
I recently did a full Facebook LIVE video about choosing books as gifts. Check it out here! If you’d like some help with your book gift list, feel free to drop me an email any time. I’m always up for talking books! If you want to hear what’s on my family’s book wish list, give my Facebook page a like and follow to catch next month’s LIVE video chat.
What about you? What books are on your wish list this year? Which was the best book gift you ever received, who gave it to you and what made it so special? Need some help choosing books for family and friends? Drop me a line! I’d love to help, if I can!