I just started wrapping Christmas presents, some bound for the tree five feet away and others headed for the post office and a trip five states away.
As I began my shopping a week or so ago, a harsh reality set in. I have shifted most of my personal (and professional) reading from print books to ebooks, and I realized that most of the people I’d normally give books to also primarily read ebooks. My safety net is gone! Aside from the handful of gifts I bought and put away back in August—I hope I can remember where—this time of year I’m in a mad rush to find that perfectly personal, last-minute gift. There is simply nothing better—and never will be—than a book. And of all the shops to visit, a bookstore has the ultimate micro-niched, specific gift for everyone you know.
When I was a kid, I fell in love with gift wrap. I declared that I would be a professional gift wrapper when I grew up. My parents chuckled with that “oh, the things kids say” roll of the eyes. Since Mother was an avid wrap-it-yourselfer, I had no idea the job existed, albeit with limited opportunities for advancement and skeleton staffing except during the winter holidays. I’m relieved that it didn’t prove to be my ultimate career choice. But then, as now, I loved wrapping gifts and trying to make them unique. Better, I learned early that books are the perfect thing to wrap; they look good every time given their perfectly triangular corners and their heft to push and pull paper tight about.
Sadly, perhaps to some, books can’t hide themselves beneath their wrapping. The eager fingers of curious gift receivers quickly figure out what’s inside. That’s all right. I never minded picking up a gift and knowing it was a book—there were so many possibilities as to which book it might be.
Here’s to giving books—the old-fashioned kind—for the holidays. This weekend I’m headed to the bookstore.