Feral Friday - Buying Books For Other People

It’s Feral Friday! And we here at Book Nerd Reviews thought we would discuss a topic that really sends us feral.

Christmas is quickly approaching, and it is nearly time for us to play Santa’s little elves and get presents for all those who have been naughty and nice (we don’t discriminate against the naughty here at Book Nerd Reviews).

This week, we’re talking about buying books for other people:

Kristy’s say:

Tis the season to go shopping! And when it comes to buying presents, books are something that I normally get people. And I do this for multiple reasons:

  • If I have to go shopping, then I want it to interest me (I hate shopping).
  • Most of friends are readers.
  • I think it is fantastic to give someone a book - so they can relax, be transported into another world, be entertained and maybe find something they can really connect to. Not many other things can provide such an experience (and such value for money).
  • Because a lot of the people I buy for are interstate, and if I buy them a book, I can get it delivered directly to them (saves on postage, as online retailers are normally cheaper than sending myself - or free postage).
  • Because I love sharing great books, I love talking about books and I love hearing about others experiences with books (a totally selfish reason really).
  • And basically, I love getting books - so I am pushing my wants and wishes onto those I care about most :)

But, as much as I love giving books, it can be one of the most difficult things to do as well. There are two main things to consider when buying someone else a book: what are their reading tastes, and do they already have it/already read it.

Reading tastes is something that is pretty easy - if you know someone well enough to buy them presents, you probably know them well enough to know what type of books they like. As the people I buy for mostly like the same books that I do, I tend to buy books for others that I have liked/loved myself (for example, in 2011 I brought pretty much every one Daughter of Smoke and Bone). But when it comes to close friends, this does not always work - as when friends read a really great book, they tend to tell each other and end up buying/reading it before you get the chance to buy it for them. This is when I fall back on books that I haven’t read yet, but are high on my TBR pile or wishlist (once again, only helpful if the person you are buying for has the same taste in books as you).

But, knowing if someone already has a book you are considering buying can be somewhat harder. This is where Goodreads can come in handy for some people. Some people (and I certainly am not one of them) have very well sorted Goodreads shelves, so you can see what they already have, or what they want. But for those who don’t organise their shelves on Goodreads, it can be a lot harder. So what can do about those people? Well, you have three options, snoop, guess or ask. Snooping through their bookshelf will tell you what someone already has (if you can do that without flying interstate or looking like a total stalker). Guessing is a bit of a gamble as they may already have the book you buy for them. Or you could ask - the downside to this is then the person will know what you are getting them (Or, it could completely backfire on you and they won’t tell you what books they want - I admit, I am one of those who don’t answer that question; it makes me feel that if I answer then the other person is obliged to buy me something, and I don’t expect anyone to buy me anything).

But, as troublesome as it can be, I still think books are the best present you can get someone. Go ahead, buy your loved ones a book (and, if you happen to buy some for yourself while doing it YAY!).

Here are some of my tips for buying books for other people:

  • Obviously, try to buy one they don’t already have.
  • Buy a book that you think they will like. Remember you are giving them a present to bring them joy, not to give them the burden of feeling obliged to read a book they aren’t interested in.
  • If you are buying them a sequel, try to find out which edition they have of the previous book(s) so you can get them the matching sequel.
  • Remember their format preference - if they prefer hardcovers or paperback, try to get them what they like.
  • If you can afford it, a boxset is a lovely present. They are pretty, and complete, and overall, a wonderful present.
  • If you need to post the present, consider buying it from an online retailer and get it sent directly to them reduce postage costs.
  • If you are stuck for ideas, ask around - ask your friends for their favourites, ask at a bookstore, ask a librarian, ask a blogger, rummage around Goodreads and check out your favourite bloggers’ reviews and recommondations. There are so many great books out there - you will find one!
  • Have fun with buying the book(s).
  • If all else fails, buy them a gift card/voucher for their local bookstore.

I hope you all have fun book-shopping for some lucky recipient - but more importantly, I hope you all get piles of books this x-mas!

Melissa’s say:

Sorry mine isn’t going to be as amazing and comprehensive as Kristy’s post was! I have a lot going on at the moment, but didn’t want to miss out on the post. :)

Honestly, I wish I had more bookish friends. I have a few friends that love books like I do, but they’re certainly not the bulk of my friends. But for my fellow bookish mates, I love the idea of buying them books for Christmas. Books I think are such a personal decision that you invest your time and interest in, and I feel a lot of pressure when I am buying them for others! I always want to do really well - and I feel like there’s a lot riding on it when they open the present to see what books you chose. I tend to stick with books I’ve personally read and loved - but that’s not always the case! I am not always a great gift giver, but as much as I hate to say it - vouchers do make a great back up option if in doubt.

The first thing is always - do they already have this?! Because I have a goldfish memory and I am not great at remembering the books people tell me they want to read or have bought! Eek! But I think Goodreads can be a really useful tool sometimes when looking at the books people want to read. I know I have hundreds of books on my To Read list, and I am not the most organised when it comes to my list, but I think if you see it, you get the gist. And I think lists are really telling about what books people want to read, so it certainly gives you a nudge in the right direction. You can’t usually go to far wrong picking a title from their list. I do also love the idea of a nice boxset as a Christmas present.. books all presented in a neat little package!

A few years ago for a friends birthday I bought her The Hunger Games books. And I don’t know who was more excited… haha She had heard me talk about them for ages but hadn’t read them. But I was really excited to give them to her - I wanted her to enjoy them, but more than anything, I was dying to have a really good conversation with someone about the series finally! At that time, my friends hadn’t read the books, and I was busting to talk to others about it. So there’s always a selfish benefit in there for you too. :)


Do you like giving books as presents? Do you have trouble picking which books to buy? Do you have any book buying tips to share? Let us know in your comments below!

What do you think?

  • I love buying books as presents, but I only really have one friend who loves reading (and even then, about half as much as I do, haha!). So I wish I could buy more people books, but hey. Maybe one day :D
    I used to have a friend who was an avid reader like I was, and we were really close, so I always knew what she had read/wanted to read. Every Christmas or birthday we would give each other piles of books - it was awesome.
    Whenever I am at a friend’s house, and I see their bookshelves, I always go and snoop. It tells me what they already won, and what kind of books they like to read.
    I do love giving books as presents, and I wish I had more friends that love reading!

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Chiara. Books are certainly the best presents. You may need to turn more of your friends and family into avid readers by buying them books anyway :) Or, be like me, don’t take on any new friends that aren’t readers lol. And don’t worry, you have lots of friends that love reading - you just have to recommend books to us rather than buying them :)

  • […] explains why she doesn’t mind spoilers. - Kristy and Melissa @ Book Nerd Reviews discuss buying books for other people. - Genevieve @ The Reading Shelf talks about audiobooks and why they don’t work for […]

  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this post and for helping me finally decide what to gift my friend - books! I don’t know how I didn’t think to give books but all that matters is that you gave me inspiration. This works out so well because I love sharing books with her, she loves reading and we love discussing them!

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