Buying books for others is a fun way to indulge your literary leanings and feel good about supporting the industry, but the awkwardness of asking “did you read it yet?” and being met by a blank stare is enough to scare me off. So, while this is ostensibly a guide to buying books and bookish things for others, let’s be real. If I buy this stuff for anyone, in the immortal words of N*Sync:
Editing this post to add the one bookish gift I’m actually giving someone else. If you haven’t got the first volume, this would make a handsome box set, don’t you think? (Sleeve borrow from a Folio Society book, fancy!)
I’m editing this post to add this Nell Zink box set, which includes both her novels. I paid full price for The Wallcreeper ebook (which, ouch, because it’s a novella) and I still want this in my life.
Just what it sounds like, the Short Story Advent Calendar is a collection of 24 short stories, to be opened and read from December 1 to 24. The creators are local (Edmonton author Michael Hingston and designer Natalie Olsen,) but the project has a broad geographic scope. You’ll find new stories and b-sides from authors across the country, like Heather O’Neill and Richard Van Camp, and American Jess Walter of Beautiful Ruins fame. Not all the contributors have been revealed yet, so who knows who else is in there?
The website will offer additional goodies about each story come December, and the creators hope to spark lots of conversation among adventers. This is the most interesting part, to me. Despite the size and commitment of the online literary community, not all of these things catch on. Hingston says,
The community element was part of it from the beginning. It was based off of this beer advent calendar I bought, and going to their Facebook page every day to see a video of beer people reviewing each beer.
Reviewing a short story’s gotta be more interesting than reviewing a beer? Right? Follow me on Twitter to find out, as I have indeed bought this thing for myself.
Oh yeah, and you only have until November 13 to order. That’s in two days. And they may run out before then. It’s not cheap at $55, but it’s a thing of beauty!
A handpicked book from Vellum and Bloom
This Vancouver company bills itself as “purveyors of lovingly tailored literary gift packages.” I think of it as “when you want to buy a book for someone, but don’t want the blame if they don’t like it.” I’m dying of curiosity and want to try it for myself, to see if they get it right.
For $30, you get a book. For $45 (and up) you get a book plus additional treats of the literary persuasion. Readers fill out a survey about their favourite genres and recent reads, and Vellum and Bloom picks the book, with a special focus on current titles from Canadian independent publishers, which they think means it’s unlikely the receiver will have read the book, which means they don’t know me very well.
Yes, they do subscription boxes, and yes, you can return the book if you’ve already read it. Order by December 2 for Christmas delivery.
An antique book from Abe Books or Invaluable
I’m not much for books as collectibles myself (libraries and ebooks 4 life,) but a first edition of a classic book is pretty special. CanLit Booktuber From the Dusty Bookshelf got herself a signed edition of Hugh MacLennan’s Return of the Sphinx from Abe Books and she’s pretty happy with it:
While Abe Books is the go-to spot for used books online, Invaluable is a newcomer. They are an online auction site that’s doing a promotional push with book bloggers of late. After comparing the sites, I find Abe Books much easier to use, because it’s set up for books specifically. It also has a wide range; from super-rare, signed first editions to regular used books. Invaluable focuses on the rare ones. If you’re after a really specific book or author, Invaluble is a good resource, but for browsing, and those who don’t have $1,000 to drop on a first edition of A Confederacy of Dunces (I WISH) you will find more to work with on Abe Books.
Neither site had first editions of Tess of the D’Ubervilles, so I guess Christian Grey does his shopping elsewhere…
So, book people, what do you want for Christmas?
Note: I know some of the people mentioned in this post, and some of them sent me press releases, but none of them sent me any of the gifts listed here or money or anything like that.