5 Ways to Give the Perfect Book Gift (and What Not to Do)


Giving books as gifts. It’s a tricky business. So tricky that the instinct is to avoid it altogether and just hand over a Barnes and Noble gift card. But gift cards, as a rule are somehow very… lame. Gift cards are lame. It’s sad but true. So should you choose to brave the bookstore shelves in search of something to get the booklover in your life, here are some tips to remember.

Don’t Use Amazon

Unless someone has given you a specific list of titles they are thinking of, Amazon is a bad bet. It doesn’t allow for nearly enough browsing and gives you no idea what’s really out there. You need to see all your options if you're going to stand a chance. So if you’re still trying to narrow down a title, you need a good old fashioned brick and mortar bookstore. Those are better for your soul anyway.

Know Your Genres

If you’re thinking of buying this person a book, chances are you know something about what they like to read. Biographies, science fiction, romance, literary fiction, all of the above, you should know what they like. Don’t buy fantasy for your roommate if she's all about the manga. Don't get your cousin adventure if he's only into memoirs. Don't buy Jon Stewart's book for your conservative relatives. Just stick with what they like. And if what they like is erotica, well… you are braver than I in your gift giving.

Don’t Use This As A Chance To Give Recommendations

Sometimes you love a book so much you just want everyone to read it. But that is not an excuse to buy 20 copies and give one to every person on your list. People don’t like receiving books that are totally different from what they normally read. Even though you might think this person would totally love this book, if it’s not the sort of thing they normally read, they won’t read it just because you give it to them. There are probably too many other books they’ve been looking forward to. Don’t be that pushy person trying to foist your tastes on everyone else.

Booksellers Are Your Friends

Whether you’re shopping at Barnes and Noble or, better yet, a local bookstore, the employees are there to do more than check you out. They are surrounded by books all day long, and chances are they know what’s out there better than you ever will. If you tell them you’re shopping for your boyfriend who loves historical fiction, they’ll know the right questions to ask, and can probably take your knowledge of what he’s read lately and turn it into recommendations for what he’ll want to read next. So don’t be shy; go talk to the experts.

Don’t Panic

Walking into a bookstore is a daunting thing at the best of times. Trying to pinpoint the one title out of thousands that would be just right for your literary aunt can seem impossible. But never fear! With clear thinking, patience, and some help from your friendly bookstore employee, you can give the best book presents your friends and family have ever gotten.