Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why Books Make Great Gifts

There's a holiday marketing campaign going on right now called BOOKS=GIFTS. The program was organized by Random House, with many other publishers joining the effort. The goal is, of course, to emphasize that books are a more ideal gift than ever this holiday season, with the struggling economy. Many high profile authors like Christopher Paolini, Judy Blume and Maya Angelou are doing very short video clips that share their perspective on why books make great gifts, the gimmick being that each one says "Books make great gifts because... (fill in the blank for each author)," and then "Give... (blank)."

My mother and I recently shot one of these ourselves to contribute to the campaign. We had to keep it short and sweet and commercial - i.e. specific to the Julie Andrews Collection, so we leaned into our logo: "Books make great gifts because words lead to wisdom and wisdom leads to wonder. Give the gift of wonder."

In fact, there are several important reasons why books really do make great gifts, especially for kids, this year and any year... Here are just a few:

* Books are evergreen - they keep on giving, well beyond the day they are received. They give with each read, and if they are subsequently shared or passed down, they keep on giving. They are like presents that can be opened over and over again.

* Books send a message to the recipient beyond that of the book itself. They tell the reader, "I care about you. I think of you as this sort of person, and therefore I think you would enjoy this book."

* Books educate, inform and inspire. They broaden consciousness and perspective. They also cultivate curiosity, nurture the imagination, and promote a sense of wonder.

* Books provide outstanding long-term value for a relatively low cost.

* Giving young people books as gifts subliminally underscores the connection between reading and the joy of receiving, thus strengthening the association between books and pleasure.

* There are countless types, genres, styles, subjects and authors to choose from, maximizing your opportunity to find something uniquely suited to each recipient.

* If you are overwhelmed by options, or not sure where to begin to find the right book for a loved one, there are myriad resources to help. Your local bookseller is trained to help match the right book to the right person. You can also explore's "listmania" lists and "Customers who bought this book also explored..." feature. You can pick up a copy of the New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, American Libraries magazine or any number of other publications dedicated to reviewing books. There are even websites geared to helping people find books they love - one to explore is

So give the best gift of all this year. Give books!

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