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Give Books as Gifts!

(Edited and updated version of a blog originally posted at

http://www.hannacroixcreekbooks.com on December 15th, 2008)

Yes, it’s a hard time in publishing these days. Everyone knows it, unless you’re lucky enough to be a bestselling author, like John Grisham, or a publisher whose books are selling really well. Just ask the booksellers, the publishers, the authors, and especially the editors who have been downsized in just the last few weeks. For so many, book sales are down, and it’s a sign of the hard economic times in general, not just in the book industry. But it’s also a sign of a change in how information is obtained and what the public wants as some are beginning to prefer reading their books electronically or as e-books. Just as some magazines are going to online only formats, why, when, and whether someone will buy a book is changing. There is more free information available on the Internet and that makes it that much harder to motivate people to actually buy books.

But if you love books, make sure you show that love of books in your own purchasing behaviors. Whether you’re a publisher, an author, in the book business in some other capacity, or a reader without any ties professionally to the book world, consider giving a book as a gift. And not just for Christmas or Hanukah. Consider a book as a gift for birthdays or anniversaries, or for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and even Grandparent’s Day. If you’re looking to make a donation, consider buying and sending books to children’s and even adult organizations, throughout the U.S. or internationally, who need books to encourage reading and bring hope and fresh ideas to those who are less fortunate and unable to buy books themselves.

And if you have another gift you want to give to a family member, friend, or colleague, besides a book, still consider adding a book to the gift, whether it’s for a holiday or for a birthday or another special occasion. Try to include a book with that gift with the book’s theme somehow related to that other gift. For example, for Valentine’s Day, in addition to flowers, candy, jewelry, or a dinner out, give a book of poetry or a favorite work of fiction. If a colleague is retiring, include a nonfiction or fiction title related to retirement, travel, or just a book that you’ve enjoyed and found a “fun read” that you think your colleague might welcome receiving.

Father’s Day offers the chance for cookbooks and photo books about fatherhood as well as business books, biographies, or works of history.

BirthdayTracker&Journal-front-coverMother’s Day is a time for mother-child photo books as well as cookbooks, journals, novels, and nonfiction books about topics you know that special mother will enjoy reading more about.

Cooking utensils or dishes for the newlyweds? How about adding a classic or new and innovative cookbook or two?

A shirt for a teen who is graduating from high school? How about a novel or two that he might enjoy along with a t-shirt with the cover of that novel on the shirt, if the novelist’s publisher has an alliance with a company that imprints products, such as www.cafepress.com?BL98E01.DOC

Speaker and author Rebecca Morgan started Books for Treats back in 1995, a campaign to give children books for Halloween instead of candy. For more on her innovative idea and program, visit the website: http://booksfortreats.org

A sweater for a new college student? She might find a collection of essays, short stories, or a novel might be a welcome gift, along with that sweater, as well.

Of course try to take the time to find out what your gift recipient might like in terms of the book you will select. Ask what books they’ve been reading lately or even get into a discussion about their favorite books of all time. (They might want to get their own copy of Gone With the Wind for their library if that was their top book as a teen?)

How about buying yourself a book as a gift! I have books dating back to my earliest years and I save those books especially the ones inscribed it to me, particularly if it was a gift. I have a hardcover collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets that I bought for myself when I was in high school. The cover has multicolored design work that makes the physical book a pleasure to behold, not just the words. When I met my husband, his first birthday gift to me almost twenty- nine years ago when we first met, was Stick, a novel by Elmore Leonard, one of his favorite contemporary novelists.

Just as boxed sets of DVDs of movies and TV series used to be “hot” gift items, books need to be included in those “wish lists” if we are to see the book industry thrive, not just survive. Have you bought a book today? What about buying a book lover an e-reader along with a gift card for some books, or including some books pre-loaded on the e-reader with that purchase? Or how about a gift card to itunes.com for some audiobooks?

Back in 2008, when this blog was originally written and posted, I received an e-mail from Pat Schroeder, who at that time was CEO and President of The Association of American Publishers (AAP), letting me know that the AAP had just launched a new website: www.booksaregreatgifts.com. I just checked and the website is still there. It’s a great concept and it needs to be continually reinforced and throughout the year.

“Books are great gifts” is a wonderful slogan, as valid today as it was back in 2008 when that site was initially launched! If we want the book industry, and reading, to thrive, we all need to support it by buying and giving books!

Although I prefer the idea of giving an actual book as a gift, since the goal is the get everyone reading more, as well as generating more revenue for the all-important book industry, a gift card

to your favorite brick and mortar or online bookstore is yet another way to support the books for gifts initiative!

drjanyager-SmallPhotoCMYKJan Yager, Ph.D. is an author, artist, and publishing executive whose 35+ books have been translated into 32 languages including the nonfiction self- help books When Friendship Hurts (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone), Work Less, Do More (2nd edition), and the novel, The Pretty One (Hannacroix Creek Books). For more on this author, go to: http://www.drjanyager.com or visit the main website for her publishing company: http://www.hcbooks.com.