Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

December 7, 2009

More Things To Do With Books & Giftmas

If you, like me, have been banned from buying any more books for your family this Giftmas don’t worry – there’s still a way for a good bibliophile to push the printed form. This year the bee in my bonnet is all about bookish gift cards!

From The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library's Christmas card offerings.

Libraries are a surprisingly good source of tasteful gifts.  Fundraising has always been a major issue for libraries, though few of us seem to take notice outside of the occasional bake or book sale.  Almost every library has, tucked in behind the front counter, a selection of items for sale like bags, publications, shirts or bookmarks available year-round.

Gift cards are probably a no-brainer for a good reference collection because so many of their books are beautifully photogenic and summon the aesthetic of Nutcracker Christmasses complete with giant fireplaces, trees trimmed with candles and leather-bound books being read to a clutch of excited children before bedtime.

This one available from the Osborne Collection of Children's Books.

Toronto certainly has no shortage of libraries with behind-the-counter gift shops, but ambitious gift-givers among you might enjoy looking further abroad.  The J.P. Morgan Library in New York has a fabulous shop including a reproduction of the first known Christmas card, while the British Library has a huge selection including reproductions from the Lindisfarne Chronicles.  Link madness here I come:  see also the Huntington Library, the Library of Congress,  the Bodleian, and the New York Public Library.  But you don’t have to take my word for it – walk into your favourite library and just ask the librarian.  I guarantee [1] they will have something cute you would never have expected.

[1] No actual guarantee available.

2 thoughts on “More Things To Do With Books & Giftmas”

  1. rpriske says:

    “banned from buying any more books for your family”

    Uh, I don’t understand! How can gifting books ever be a bad thing?

    1. Charlotte says:

      I gave everyone books every years for a few years before the “I guess it’ll be books again” snide comments began. The timing was off, I think – at one point, every member of my family was in University at the same time, and nobody (except me, apparently) had any time to read. So book-buying got vetoed.

      Me, I love getting books no matter what! And so naturally nobody ever buys me books, claiming they “don’t know what I need” since I have so much already, or insisting that my staff discount at the bookstore makes anything they get me inefficient. Le sigh!

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