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Do people buy books as gifts anymore?

I read recently that book buying as gifts is down in the UK. Made me wonder, though, when was the last time I received a book as a gift?

I come from a long line of book lovers. My step-mom once told me to STOP buying books and book gift cards for my dad for Christmas and his birthday because she could now use the stacks of hardcovers in the “to read” pile as a second coffee table if need be. I loved getting books for presents, especially from those select few family members who really knew what I liked. To this day me, my grandmother and aunt have an ongoing book sharing circle that’s spanned about 20 years. Through this sort of “book re-gifting” program we’ve set up I’ve discovered now-beloved authors, such as Kate Atkinson and Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Book sharing and books as presents has sometimes been the best way for me to discover new writers.

The other day I bought my grandmother a book for her 89th birthday. I found it off of a Huffington Post article about bestselling books from the 1920s  and I chose the selection “The Keeper of Bees” from her birth year, 1925. I ordered it through Amazon and had it sent directly to her. There wasn’t a place to add a note if I wasn’t specifically marking it as a gift, so I knew the book would arrive without much fanfare; just innocently wrapped in its cardboard sheath. We take a big leap of faith when we send a book, especially one unread by the sender, to someone else. I want my grandmother to love her new gift because I put some thought into picking it out, but books are so subjective to the reader.

Whenever I received a book as a gift, I knew it came from a special place. Either the giver had read it before and wanted to share that joy with me, or it was given as an opportunity to learn something new. My new book present was never to be treated lightly and was expected to be treasured (even if I didn’t end up liking it). Are we losing this longtime tradition of book giving? You can give a Kindle as a gift, but can’t necessary give the person “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt or A Game of Thrones series.

If books are a form of love and we aren’t giving books as gifts anymore, where does that love go?

Please share here if you still give books as gifts and if so, what was the last book you gave to someone or received?


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2 thoughts on “Do people buy books as gifts anymore?

  1. I got a whole stack of books for my last birthday, but mostly they were from a list I’d given my parents so they’d know what I was missing. There were a couple of books that weren’t on the list too, but they were still related to the list.

    I think buying books for people is hard, because if they’re anything like me, they already have so many that it’s hard to know what they might not have!

  2. I agree! Thank you for your comment. I’m tough to buy for as well, but I’m always honored when someone shares his/her favorite book with me as a gift. Sometimes my family and friends go “off the grid” with weird selections and I love that. The last book I got as a gift was “Stiff” by Mary Roach a few years ago, and my friend bought it for me because I once mentioned that I would have loved to be a forensic scientist. It wasn’t something I would normally read, but I was totally appreciative that she thought outside the box. It’s a hard call, though!

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