Payal Morankar curates a gifting guide for book lovers for every season and every reason.
I don’t know if it’s just me but some random early childhood memories are still ingrained in my mind. Unexplainably, vividly so. One of them is that of Teachers’ Day Eve when I was in first or second grade, with our class teacher giving guidance on what an ideal gift would look like for the next day. ‘Don’t bring a flower, ah,’ she said. ‘Those just wither and die. A plastic one will also just sit on the side gathering dust. Gifts should be thoughtful. And useful. Say, like a pen.’
Kudos to this teacher for imparting a crucial life lesson: always state your expectations upfront. Be it in relationships, salary negotiations, and even receiving gifts.
In that same spirit, and as much as I love flowers and wouldn’t mind receiving them, I also adore books and everything related to them. So here’s a guide on gifting for book lovers.
Regardless of whether it’s with utmost thoughtfulness or a mere formality, gifting is not easy. There are so many things to consider: the recipient’s interests and taste; the occasion; the quality; the budget; the logistics; the impression you’d make; whether you might practically end up professing your love like Chandler when he bought for Joey’s girlfriend a rare copy of her favourite book, The Velveteen Rabbit.
Sorry, any resulting personal entanglements are your lookout, but we’ve got you covered for everything else when it comes to buying a perfect gift for your loved ones who are crazy about books. We suggest going beyond picking a book from their wish list or handing out gift cards from Amazon, Crossword, or other bookstores. With items spotted from the world over, this article will give you many gifting ideas to work off of and make the book lovers in your life feel extra special.
Gift ideas for Book Lovers
Table of Contents
Goes without saying that the most apt present for book lovers is… a book. And in fact, generosity is always appreciated; get a boxful of them!
There are organisations all over India that curate theme-based and customizable book boxes, with other cool merchandise thrown in, at varying price points and subscription periods. In naming a few, we’d start off Champaca and also support an independent bookstore. Their pricing begins at Rs. 1,499/month.
Other book boxes you can check out are:
- Destino’s mission is to “help you find a book that is written in your stars” by setting you up on a blind date with it. (Starting price Rs.199)
- Kaffeinated Konversations strives for diversity in genres and focuses on lesser-known authors, particularly from the Indian sub-continent. (Starting price Rs.999)
- The Big Book Box delivers the best of international fiction to your doorstep based on the theme of the month. (Starting price Rs. 1,699)
The audiobook market is on the rise, with many people taking to them like podcasts to listen to while doing chores or enhancing a story’s experience by reading and listening to it at the same time for greater effect.
Audible India is possibly the most famous name with a monthly plan of Rs. 199. StoryTel is also doing an excellent job of bringing stories out in English as well as 11 Indian languages. Monthly plans start at Rs. 149 and you can also choose gift cards from Rs. 299 for a month onwards.
Nobody is asking for tickets for the Taylor Swift world tour; we are reasonable like that. Some literary festival passes would do just fine. A chance to meet and fan-girl over Meena Kandasamy, Vikram Seth, Jerry Pinto, Anukrti Upadhyay? And listen to musicians like Advaita and Ankur Tewari? Yes, please! Prakruti attended the Jaipur Literature Festival last year and had tons of fun.
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For those enthusiastic and absolute sweethearts of gift-ers, who like to be more hands-on and create an ‘experience’ for their book lovers, here are some things you can throw together:
If the title hasn’t made you chuckle already, fancy this: Gin Eyre, The Hand-Mule’s Tale, and The Other Cognac Girl.
Why not throw a literature-inspired drinks and bar snacks party with recipes from this book and then leave the book behind for the person of the hour? And be sure to present the book only after the party is over, else the book lover will get busy reading the commentary on the books accompanying the recipes!
At said party, you can replace board games with some puzzles instead.
The snuggle pack
I suppose I am stereotyping but more often than not, bibliophiles just want to snuggle up and hunker down on their own with their books. So you can throw together a book-based ensemble for them instead and let them have their own party.
If there’s a David Rose inside you who just wants to keep things aesthetic and classy, here are some décor ideas around books:
“A place for everything and everything in its place!” goes the mantra.
And such a pretty place at that! Help your dear ones never forget where they kept their book and which page they were on, with these holders that can hang on to multiple books at once or even their cup of tea.
These are a fairly standard gift option but also one where you are most spoilt for choice. Ranging from cutesy to bougie, the bookends not just help keep books tidy and in shape but also jazz up the space.
A rare first edition copy of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone sold for £10,500 (about Rs. 11.3 lakhs) at an auction in early July 2023.
No, no I’m not suggesting you gift that (although if you can…). But first edition covers do have immense sentimental value at least and, if not own the books, it’s certainly possible to hang the covers up in frames as an art print. They look super tasteful and contemporary.
Don’t we put movie posters in a similar fashion?
Cool, chic, and ‘nuff said. Just look at the picture. LOOK! And keep looking while we go get this wall art décor for our own office.
For those who want to be no-frills, we come to the more utilitarian category of gifts. These are chill yet uber-functional and fail-safe presents.
Book page holder
Could anything be more practical? Yet, book page holders are rarely used for some reason, so maybe you can spark a trend by gifting them to someone. And no, the holders need not be as basic as their function. You can get wooden ones personalised with the receiver’s initials, some in interesting shapes like a moustache, or those pretty and colourful kinds made with resin.
Book embosser and stamp
Every book lover and hoarder has dreamt of becoming a quiet, mysterious, and bespectacled librarian at some point. You can allow them those feelz with a customised book embosser or book stamp.
Although personally speaking, we’d never make for good librarians. Because we’d never lend our books to anybody. The embosser or stamp would be just to stake a further claim. And that still works as a great gift!
There is no such thing as too many bookmarks and We. Just. Cannot. Get. Over. These.
Fret not if you struggle to write a nice message to go with the present. Let the greats speak on your behalf! Daak Vaak, who we love for their love for the languages and culture of South Asia, hand-picks poems and excerpts to go on postcards, as well as other merchandise.
Book note-making stationery
There are two factions of bibliophiles: those who write and/or make marks in their books and those who don’t.
For those who do, persuade them to also go eco-friendly with highlighter pencils which serve the purpose without looking harsh or blotting the pages.
For those who would be affronted even at the suggestion, check out these book darts you can consider gifting over good old but typical sticky notes.
Literary Insults Chart
Save them the chagrin of thinking of a great response only later in the shower with this cheat sheet.
unBlock Book- 100 Creative Writing Prompts
P3 presents a unique book for writers. This is a collection of carefully curated 100 writing prompts to tease your muse. If you wish to buy a copy, get in touch with them!
Guess what? While a lot of these products are not available in India, Purple Pencil Project is coming up with its own range of merchandise soon for book lovers. Perhaps whatever has caught your fancy may become available sooner and a lot closer to home.