My family and friends have recently approached me because while they know that all I want for the holidays is more books, and even though they know they can troll my blog to find out what books, the reality is that they’re just not sure they’ll really be able to get me a book I don’t already have. What if someone else buys me the same book they got me? What if I get impatient and go out and buy the book myself? What if?
And then there’s the problem of my children. They have more books than the local branch of the library. My mother in law actually called me from the store to double check her purchase before she left. She had to put back over half the books she had picked out and scour for new ones.
So, how do you buy books for the reader who already has them all?
Here are a couple suggestions:
First – Look through your own books, do you see any that used to belong to your friend? Feel free to wrap them up and return them! There’s nothing an inveterate book lender likes more than having books returned so they can be lent out again. If you actually read the books and enjoyed them, write a note to let your friend know. It might even score you a fresh loan of the latest, greatest book out there!
No books to return? Or you just really want to buy a new book for your friend? Go into your local bookshop and cruise the new releases wall. Look for authors you know your friend enjoys. If your friend has a favorite genre, look for those. Chances are with the crazy season upon us your friend hasn’t had a chance to buy any new books for him/herself. But you can bet that while s/he was out buying books for all of you, the wish list was growing!
Another tool you can use is a shelf that many stores are using – an “If you enjoyed this, you might like this…” shelf. Based off Amazon’s service of recommending books based on your recent searches and purchases, this can be an invaluable tool for introducing inveterate readers to new authors and books.
Third, hit the non-fiction. Think about interests that your friend has and find an engaging non-fiction book that delves into the topic. Non-fiction is often overlooked but is increasingly wonderful. I’m not talking about the dry textbooks of your college nightmares, but phenomenal narrative non-fiction. It’s out there, and it’s worth exploring.
Lastly – keep the receipt. That way even if you double buy, your friend can always exchange it for something off their wish list! And don’t feel bad, if you buy a book they already own, all it means is that you know them well enough to choose a book they’ll enjoy. They won’t fault you for not being able to keep their library straight, chances are they can’t either!!