I just finished writing a blog post for my internship (they’re doing a series leading up to the holidays), and I thought that you all might find it useful/applicable. Enjoy!
Broadsides make great gifts!
I have a library in my apartment. It takes up three full-length shelves and represents the three years that I’ve spent in Minnesota as a college student and bibliophile. It is also a fraction of the size of my father’s library, which he gathered for decades and then shipped halfway around the world when my parents moved to Thailand. It also doesn’t include the closetful of books that I left with my grandmother upon departing for college, or the eight overflow boxes that I conned my best friend into fostering.
My family is lucky in that I have wide-ranging tastes, and even luckier that I keep a semi-updated wish list online, but I’ve gotten my fair share of comments along the lines of “You’re so hard to shop for!” to which I can only respond with a meek “…I’m sorry?” I could easily follow this with “…You know you don’t just have to buy me books, right?”
But I do love books and all things bookish. I also love being surprised, which means not only receiving things from a wish list that I reformatted myself a month before the holidays. To that end, here are some ideas for that hard-to-buy-for person in your life who loves books and likes to maintain a literary lifestyle:
1) A bookmark
This may not sound exciting, but a bookmark is perfect if you’re in the market for a small but thoughtful gift. Bookmarks are a necessary part of any reader’s life, and can be highly artistic: wooden, leather, or etched metal, just to name a few. Stop by a local boutique or imports store for some unique selections.
2) A broadside
Hand-set and printed, broadsides are a wonderful combination of art, history, and class. They look spectacular framed and can be as artsy or literary as you desire. I’ve seen reprinted passages from Pride and Prejudice, complete with gold accents, and I’ve seen high-color hipster-chic alternatives. Always beautiful, always classic, broadsides make wonderful gifts that will always stay special.
3) Reading accessories
Whether a cozy throw or pretty bookends, think outside the box when it comes to what makes a great reading experience. Also consider a lovely porcelain teapot, some fancy coffee, loose-leaf tea, hot cocoa products, or a bottle of wine. Add stemware or mugs to make it a gift basket!
4) A new book
It seems obvious, but sometimes this is easier said than done. If you know the recipient’s tastes, consider pre-ordering a book that is going to be released in the next few months. It’s unlikely that they’ll have pre-ordered the same book, and even if it seems like a let down to not be able to give them a physical gift right away, they’ll be even more delighted when the book catches them by surprise in March. It’s a gift that gives itself twice! Ideas one, two, or three could be added to this to provide something to hold onto at the time of opening.
Another tip: if you know their library, consider a service like justtherightbook.com, which can help you pick out a book they don’t already own. If they’re known as being indecisive, buy them a subscription so that an experienced bookseller can give them personalized recommendations!
No matter how many books your recipient owns,
there are plenty more out there.
5) A special edition
Just because they own every book by their favorite author doesn’t mean that they own every edition. Whether it’s a new edition with lots of fun annotations, a copy from an older book’s first print-run, or a signed copy from the author (many authors will sign manuscripts that you mail, or at least mail you a bookplate upon request), show them that you took the time to hunt down a fresh presentation of their favorite book.
6) Something handmade
Though there are plenty of other places to look, a simple etsy search can yield hundreds of one-of-a-kind, utterly awesome ideas and handicrafts. Think of anything–jewelry, artwork, kitchen utensils, etc–and etsy probably has a talented artist to make it book-related. Click here to get started. Think about searching by book, author, genre, depending on how common your recipient’s interests might be.
7) A subscription
It could be the book-picking subscription service I mentioned earlier, or a magazine subscription tailored to their interests, or membership in a book club that sends out books on a regular basis (public radio stations often host such clubs, with quarterly parties too!)
8) A class
We’re lucky to have The Loft Literary Center here in Minneapolis, and other cities have similar organizations that host literary classes and conferences. Though often based on the art of writing, you can also find cool classes on letterpress printing, illustrating, and publishing in general.
You too can give the gift of hunting for the correct letter.
9) An e-Reader
Though this may not be best for any paper die-hards, the e-Reader market continues to expand with various price-points and nifty features. Great for techies, travelers, or students whose backpacks are already too heavy.
10) A trip
America’s greatest book cities (New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis, to name a few) also happen to be great cities, period! This is just as true for all of the literary locales around the globe. While this particular gift is one of the most expensive, it can be tailored to your budget and combined tastes–spend some time in book stores, tour the house of a famous author, or visit locations that were used in, or that inspired, a favorite book or literary classic. The experience will make for great stories, pictures, and memories of your own for years to come.
Hopefully I helped unpack the potential of literary gift-giving, either for someone you love or for yourself (braving crowds or Google searches for others always merits a small reward). Happy reading!