"A Bookseller's Guide to Picking the Perfect Book," by University Book Store

University Book Store put together this list of tips for picking out the perfect literary gift for friends, family, co-workers, neighbors—anyone you want to give a personal and lasting gift.
Books make great gifts! Photo courtesy of University Book Store.

From a University Book Store news release.

Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it's much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” - Neil Gaiman, best-selling author

Books make great gifts because you don’t have to plug them in." - Alec Baldwin

"Books make great gifts because they're easy to wrap!" - Amy Sedaris

Everyone knows that books make great gifts. With the holidays approaching, the booksellers at University Book Store put together this list of tips for picking out the perfect literary gift for friends, family, co-workers, neighbors—anyone you want to give a personal and lasting gift.

1) Get a book that means something to you.

You have a favorite book, right? You know, that book that changed your life? The one that made you look at the world in a whole new way, made you laugh out loud or cry in public without an ounce of shame? Share that special experience by getting that book for a friend. Even if they don't have the same experience, you'll be sharing something about yourself with them.

2) Consider an autographed book

In the fall, a lot of publishers send their authors out on tour. Check local readings calendars and see if an author your friend loves, or a new author you think they'd love, is coming to town. Attend the reading, buy a copy of the book, and get it signed by the author. Many will even agree to personalize the book and write a short holiday message in it.

4) Let them travel the world from their comfiest chair.

Not everyone has the time or the budget to travel the world. But if there's an exotic or romantic locale your friend has always wanted to visit, chances are there is a book about it. A travel memoir, a pictorial tour, an in-depth history—why not at least temporarily sate their wanderlust with a book about a faraway place? Heck, it may even convince them to finally make the time to pack a bag and go. And maybe they'll take you with them.

5) Pair a book with another gift.

Like a fine wine calls out for a great cheese, a gifted craft book calls out for some crafting supplies. A book on baking begs to be given to someone with a box of cookies. And a copy of a book on the Seattle Mariners wouldn't be complete without a pair of tickets to a game.

Let the book act as an inspiration for a gift to complement it. Or let yourself be inspired in the other direction. If you know you're getting your significant other a new pair of hiking boots, pair them with a local trail guide. Books give people new ways to engage with the world, but are sometimes just the first step. Discover the second step, and help your friend get there.

This seems like a fantastic opportunity to mention that University Book Store has a huge selection of art and craft supplies, and an eclectic gifts section, too.

6) Use a book to get closer.

Here's a suggestion that combines 4 & 5. What about buying a book that you and your friend can both learn from? Buy a book on French cooking and then head to the kitchen together to go through every recipe. Buy a book on carpentry, and head to the woodshop to build a cabinet together. Get a history of ballroom dancing and then sign up for some dance classes. Read a book about a famous chess rivalry and then start your own.

Books can start new traditions, and a new tradition can be a great way for acquaintances to become better friends and for two close friends to have a reason to spend more time together.

7) When all else fails, ask a bookseller.

Stumped? Ask a bookseller. We spend our days surrounded by books. We love to read. We're passionate about what we do. And we love a challenge.

Next time you're in a bookstore looking for a gift for someone and you just can't figure out where to begin, find the nearest bookseller. With just a little information about the tastes, personality, and background of your giftee, we can usually find three or four things they'll like, and then help you make the best choice.

New titles, classics, fiction or memoir, science or politics, fantasy or graphic novel—it's our job to know the books we sell. And we might just be able to come up with some choices that an algorithm can't.


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