6 Reasons Books Make Great Gifts

Books make great gifts. In fact, more than 25% of all book sales in the United States happen in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The holiday shopping season is here. Christmas is a great time to market your book as a gift. Check out these six reasons books make great gifts. Then use them to encourage your readers to give your books as gifts this season!

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Create Book Bundles for Gifting

I love brilliant marketing ideas, especially those related to books. Recently, a publisher in Brazil began using an outstanding idea to market books and promote literacy.

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Brazilians only read about two books a year, much lower than the reading rate in America (see “Reading on the Decline in America”). In hopes of raising the reading rate in Brazil, one publisher, L&PM Ediores, has created Ticket Books.

Ticket Books are paperback books that double as subway passes. Each Ticket Book comes with an RFID card built right inside the cover. Subway turnstiles read the cards like a regular train ticket. Now subway riders can use the book they are reading as a subway ticket as well as entertainment.

Each Ticket Book comes charge with 10 trips. Readers can recharge the RFID card inside the book online when the trips are used up. They can also pass the book on to a friend who can also refill the card with additional subway trips.

You are probably thinking: “That’s a cute idea, but there is no way I could afford to do something like that. I’m just one person.”

You’re right. The idea is a grand scale idea, but there is inspiration in it for you.

The holiday season is upon us. At Christmas people give gifts, including books. However, people don’t just give gifts at Christmas; they give gifts at birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, graduation, etc. You can do something similar to that of Ticket Books to create more interest in giving your book as a gift.

Instead of embedding a subway ticket inside the cover of your book, you could offer a bundle. For example, you could offer a $10 Starbucks gift card with your book as a great gift bundle. If you have a craft book, offer a gift card to Hobby Lobby with the book to encourage people to purchase your book bundle as a gift. If you have a business book, offer a gift card to Staples as a bundle deal for gifting. The ideas are endless; just use your imagination.

Offering a gift card with your book as as a bundle does not require a lot of money or time. All you need to do is pick up a few gift cards to have on hand to bundle with your book. Then let your readers and fans know about your gift-giving special. As orders are received, you simply put your bundle together and mail it out.

I hope that you not only market your book as a gift this Christmas season, but that you also give books as gifts to your family and friends. After all, gifting books promotes literacy—something that benefits everyone involved in writing and producing books.

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Related Posts:
Market Your Book as a Gift
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Gift Giving of Books in Decline

I recently read an article that reported that fewer people are buying books as gifts. The article focused on the United Kingdom and stated that fewer people buying books as gifts has contributed to an overall 4% decline in books sales in the UK over the past year.

In fact, the Nielson Book Survey of book buying habits showed that the share of books bought as gifts fell from 24% to 22% in 2013. The article reported that this equated to a decrease of nine million books.

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This trend is concerning for publishers and authors. It is not unique to the UK. It has also been seen in the United States.

Traditionally, books have been viewed as good gifts. I still believe they are good gifts. I think that the reason fewer books are being given as gifts is not so much because people don’t see them as good gifts, but more because people read less. Think about it. Which would a young adult like more: an iTunes gift card or a good book?

Reading overall is on the decline. One recent study by the Labor Department found that Americans between the ages of 15 and 19 only spend an average of 4.2 minutes of their weekends and holidays reading for fun. This research also showed that 20 to 24 year olds spend an average of 10.2 minutes reading on weekends, while 55 to 64 year olds spend 26.4 minutes on weekend days reading for pleasure. This study seems to indicate that the average time spent reading goes up with age.

The Christmas season is coming very soon. Now is the time to start planning your marketing campaign for getting people to buy your books as gifts. In your marketing campaign, tell your customers to consider buying your book as a gift. Tell them who would most benefit from your book and encourage them to help others grow in their faith with their gifts. You could even use the statistics above that show that older generations enjoy reading the most and encourage your audience to buy a book as a gift for Grandpa or Grandma.

As authors and publishers, we can help reverse this negative book-giving trend by reminding our customers and potential customers that books still make great gifts. I believe they do, so do you. Now let’s remind our customers.

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Don’t Forget Churches

On Mother’s Day, I received a gift. Actually, I received more than one gift. The gift I am talking about was a gift from my church.

Last Sunday, the church I attend gave each mother in the congregation a gift. Other churches I have been a part of usually give each mother a flower on Mother’s Day. This church gave each mother a book.

You heard that right, a book.

I thought I would share this with you because I wanted to remind you that churches buy books to give as gifts. Not just a couple books, but larger quantities of books.

Many churches give books as gifts to their congregation for special events such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, Baptism, Dedication, Marriage, and even Christmas. Churches are a good venue for non-returnable book sales.

If you have a book that is perfect for mothers, fathers, infants, new Christians, or graduates, consider marketing your book to churches. Offer your book at a discounted rate (I recommend 50% off retail) in bulk for churches to use for whatever special occasion your book speaks to.

I did this for a number of years with my infant and toddler book set, Baby Bible Board Books: Stories of Jesus. A number of churches ordered them to give as gifts to new parents in the church, as a gift at baby dedications or baptisms, and one large church even ordered around 200 to give as Christmas gifts to all the families with babies and toddlers in the congregation.

Start with your own church. Offer the book to your church to use as a gift and move outward from there. Offer it to other churches in your denomination, letting them know your church is using it. Then start canvasing local churches. Give a sample of the book to the pastor or children’s minister along with information on how to order it to use as a gift for special occasions.

Books make great gifts. I know I will enjoy reading the book I received on Mother’s Day.

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Surfing the Book Sale Wave

The push is on. Publishers and authors alike spend time before Christmas promoting their books as great gifts. Many offer discounts and specials right before the holidays to generate sales for their books.

This strategy is great. It works to sell books. However, it does not work as well for ebooks. Most gift-givers do not purchase specific digital books as gifts. While it is possible to purchase a specific ebook as a gift via Amazon and other online retailers, many people don’t know how (Amazon has developed a YouTube video to show people how). Hence, most people still prefer to give gift cards, allowing the recipient to purchase and download the books.

As a result, holiday book sales now come in two waves. Print sales before Christmas is the first wave of book sales. The second wave is the sale of digital books on Christmas day and the days following.

Did you know that last year Amazon sold more Kindle books than print books on Christmas day? Why? Because each person who received a Kindle e-reader for Christmas immediately wanted to load his new reader with books to read (and many received gift cards to purchase books along with the gift of the e-reader).

This year will be no different. If anything, more e-readers and tablets will be given as Christmas gifts than were given last year. After all, sales of Kindles were up 300% this Black Friday from last year, not to mention the surge of new e-readers and tablets currently hitting the market.

How can you smoothly surf the book sale wave and capitalize on the digital sales that come on Christmas day to sell your ebooks? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Remember that the promotion you have done before Christmas for the print version of your titles is not completely lost for those wanting digital titles. Some will remember your book and purchase it in the ebook version.
  2. Offer the first couple chapters of your book as a free download. You can do this on a number of website including on Amazon through the Kindle Singles program. Be sure to include a link at the end of the chapters to where the reader can purchase the remainder of the book (the full version). Be sure to promote this free download.
  3. Offer a Christmas week special on the ebook version of your book. You can do this by temporarily reducing the price of your ebook on Amazon and other retail sites for that week. Be sure to announce your special in your newsletter and on all your social media sites.

With a little planning and ingenuity, you may be able to ride the Christmas ebook sale spike and sell more books this holiday season.

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