A bookseller's guide to picking the perfect book as a gift

The booksellers at University Book Store put together this list of tips for picking out the perfect literary gift for friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors - anyone you want to give the gift of a good book.
Good advice from expert booksellers. Image credit: University Book Store.

From the expert booksellers at University Book Store.

Winter means the Holidays, and the Holidays mean gift buying. The booksellers at University Book Store put together this list of tips for picking out the perfect literary gift for friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors - anyone you want to give the gift of a good book.

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? The one that made you laugh out loud, or cry in public without an ounce of shame? Share that experience by getting that book for a friend. Remember, though, that they may not have the same experience you do. But even if they don't, 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.

3) Make a book for them

University Book Store Press uses our Espresso Book Machine not just to print out-of-print titles, but to allow anyone to self publish. Do you have a book of family recipes? Family stories? Poems? Bring your manuscript to us and we can make as many or as few copies as you'd like. We can even help you design it and create a basic cover. What's a more personal gift than a book you wrote yourself?

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 something

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 compliment 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.

University Book Store, Mill Creek, located at 15311 Main Street in the Mill Creek Town Center, offers a large selection of new and bargain books, UW Husky apparel and souvenirs, student and art supplies, children’s games and toys, and unique gift items. Top Pot Doughnuts Café, located inside the store, serves coffee and hand-forged doughnuts. Shoppers enjoy free parking, free book shipping, and free gift-wrapping. Hours and other information can be found online at or by calling 425-385.3530.




Our featured sponsor

Google ad