Books are gifts that have stood the test of time. The tradition of giving book gifts dates back to the 1820’s when publishers started the trend of giving mass-produced festive presents by creating gift books that contained poetry, essays and drawings aimed at different audiences with each volume. Fast forward two hundred years and the humble book is still very much a popular gift, particularly at Christmas. If you want to find the perfect gifts for book lovers, however, your choice of tome isn’t as simple as it seems.
When choosing gifts for book lovers you need to be aware that giving a certain title as a gift will make a statement about you as the purchaser and also what you think about the recipient and their taste. Such a simple shopping decision suddenly becomes a mind game and you may need to tread carefully. Book gifts are intended to flatter the recipient, confirming that they are curious and intelligent individuals whilst also reflecting well on you as the giver and showing that you also have and appreciate these qualities. This is great, if you select a book your recipient will love, but the wrong choice could be bordering on offensive.
So, to avoid a book gifting faux pas, there’s some helpful advice below.
Is your recipient a reader?
Your first tick box when considering a book gift, is whether your recipient is a reader. This needs to be pretty much a given, if you’re going to wrap up a book and present it to them on a special occasion. Statistics suggest that around 2 in 5 Brits read for pleasure once a week and around 19% read every day, with the older age groups appearing to be the keenest readers.
What is their preferred style of reading?
This is important in this technological age as many avid readers prefer to read e-books or adopt a hybrid approach of reading on an electronic device when they go to bed and picking up from where they left off in the car the next morning with the audiobook version. If your recipient has (shame on them) thrown their paper books away or shuns a physical library in place of an e-book menu, then a paperback book probably won’t cut the mustard as a gift. That said, if they are an avid reader, then they might be grateful for the opportunity to go retro and read a physical book for a change.
What about genres?
Some readers are very open about the genres of book they like to read whereas others keep their choices on a much more need to know basis. If you know the genre your recipient tends to favour then this can be helpful in narrowing down your choices, but can also present you with the dilemma of not knowing whether they have already purchased that title. If they’ve got bookshelves in their home, browse them to determine their genre preferences and also their latest acquisitions, but be wary of choosing books that may reflect the choices of others living in the same household.
Can’t you just buy a book you have enjoyed as a gift?
In a word, no. It is not about you. You wouldn’t impose your own personal tastes on your friend’s interior decor by gifting home accessories that clearly don’t match their colour scheme or style, or buy someone a delicious food gift you have enjoyed even though they don’t like the ingredients, so why give a beloved book as a present even when it goes against your recipient’s genre preferences and overall reading tastes?
In some cases it can help if you have read the book, but only if you’re in tune with your recipients reading preferences. If you haven’t read the book, take on board reviews and read the blurbs to see if it sounds like something your friend or relative would enjoy.
Safe bet book gifts
It can help to have a title in your mental library or gift giving history that you know people have generally enjoyed. Whilst you may not want to earn a reputation for giving everyone the same gift, there is nothing wrong with making your life easier by presenting the same book gift more than once. Or, if you are not sure of your recipients tastes in fiction, why not opt for a non-fiction book on a subject they enjoy such as cooking, travel, cocktail making or gardening?
Other gift ideas for book lovers
If, after much deliberation, you still find yourself unable to choose a title that will befit your recipient, then don’t lose heart as there are many other gift ideas for book lovers besides the books themselves.
Book accessories can make thoughtful and often inexpensive gifts for book lovers. think book ends, book marks, book lights and literary themed postcards to get you started. Gifts that enhance the reading experience can also make a well received gift. Consider headphones, for a truly immersive experience, a cosy blanket to wrap up in whilst reading or a literary themed candle to create the perfect ambience. Bags can also make a great standalone gift or enhance your chosen book into a ‘bigger’ present. Literary themed totes and stylish canvas bags make ideal receptacles for porting titles to and from book clubs.
Lifestyle retailer Roxtons offer more thoughts on giving book gifts and gift ideas for book lovers on their website.