Monday, August 24, 2009

Gifting books


Don't you think that giving a book to a bibliophile is stressful? What if he already has this book? What is she hates this author? What if he just goes halfway through the book and decides to re-gift the book? Aaarrgh... Questions, questions...

These are precisely my thoughts when a close bibliophile friend celebrated his birthday last Monday and I had to give him a gift. Of course it's a no-brainer that I had to give him a book. The question is, which one? I had an idea to give him a classy bookmark but I can't find any of the more expensive ones. So, I thought that my gift would really have to be a book.

I know that this person loves his thrillers and, fortunately, there are lots of these in bookstores. But do I choose the Michael Connelly over the Harlan Corben and the Ian Rankin? One of the tips people offer when buying gifts is to think of a thing that you would want to have yourself. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the mood for some Kellerman, Grisham, Evanovich, Robinson, et al. In the end, I settled for a Georges Simenon, crossing my fingers that he hasn't read this one yet.

When I receive books that are not to my taste or I already own copies of, they either go to the re-gift pile or at the back of the bookshelf. The re-gift items are a blessing. Whenever I fail to buy any gift or feel obligated to give one to a person I barely even know, I just choose randomly from the pile. I just make sure that there are no personal inscriptions inside the book. (Tip: If you don't want the books you give to your friends to be re-gifted, write something personal on the front cover, on page 25, and on the last page.)

Bibliophiles are the trickiest people to give books to, don't you think?

16 comments:

Cindy said...

It is so hard to buy a book for someone so what I usually tend to do is get a really nice bookmark and a gift card this way it allows the receiver to buy what they like.

Its happened a few times where they either had the book or they read it already.

Peter S. said...

That's exactly what I'm afraid of, Cindy! Very, very stressful.

stacybuckeye said...

There is nothing I would love more than to receive a pile of books as a gift, but friends and family are afraid of choosing because I have so many. I don't blame them.
When choosing a book as a gift sometimes the newest book out there is helpful because they won't have it yet, or a great new series or book you've discovered on the blogs.
Personally, I don't inscribe books because if they don't like them I WANT them to regift. I don't want the book to go to waste!
Great post. Now you've made me want to go out and buy a book for myself :)

Vivienne said...

I always buy them book vouchers as I know thea personally I like to choose my own books.

Peter S. said...

@Stacy: Thanks.

@Viviene: The book vouchers are a great idea!

Helen said...

Peter, I cannot agree more with your post. I had the same problem with my niece this past weekend when I was trying to buy her birthday present since she loves to read as well. She's into Twilight/Vampire books but I had no idea which ones she has because she has so many! In the end I just had to give her money so she can buy whatever she wanted.

Now as for my book-loving friends, I just give them a bookmark or a gift card from their favorite bookstore.

If a friend or family member asks me what I want for a birthday/Christmas present, (and naturally, I tell them books) I just give them my book wish list. It saves them plenty of time. Of course, it takes out the surprise, but at least I won't get an unpleasant surprise. :)

Suko said...

You are so right! My comments echo your ideas and that of other commenters. I am always worried that the bibliophile will already have the book, or not want to read the one I chose! Even if a list is provided, there's always the chance that someone else may give them the same book! Maybe it is better to stick to book-related gifts--bookmarks, gift cards, or something else other than books.

Patrick said...

I second the voucher suggestion. My family knows I love books but they'd have a hard time choosing the right book for me. Although honestly, I'd take any kind of book they'd give me. What do they say? It's the thought that counts. Hehe!

Stepford Mum said...

I usually gift friends with books when I read one and think immediately, "(Insert name here) would like this!". Come their birthday or Christmas, I casually ask if they've read this or that title yet. When they express interest in one, that's the one I give :)

Charlie said...

I try to do a little detective work before I buy someone a book:

1. If they're on LibraryThing, I can browse their library for their favorite authors and what titles they have.

2. Some people have their wishlist on Amazon and I choose something from there.

3. Hints from their blog.

If none of that works, I send a gift card and let them choose. That's how I prefer gifts to me.

Lisa said...

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line of flight said...

Thankfully the only person that gives me books is my lolo who says "when you're done with it, donate it to the library." I almost exclusively give books out but none to bibliophiles and people typically read the books I give them. I have, though, regifted on those few occasions I've received a gift I'd already read.

Jenny said...

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Alexia561 said...

Have to agree that it's hard to buy for bibliophiles, especially with the big bookstores new, strict return/exchange policies. Unless there's a certain title on their wishlist that I'm sure they haven't gotten yet, I usually stick with bookmarks, blank journals, and a gift card. And after a few years of getting duplicate books as gifts, I now have separate wishlists for everyone who asks. Books make great gifts, but cause so much pressure! *L*

bookjourney said...

I love the gift of books - they are my favorite! It is like someone caring enough to share a deep treasure with you - an adventure. I keep a wish list on a tab page on my blog... anyone who knows me can click there to find the books I covet most...

That said.... buying a book for someone else can be exactly what you said - PAINFUL if you do not know what they have read or what they have waiting to be read...

Kristi said...

My husband always complains that he can't even buy a book for me!

LOL at the personal inscription bit!