I was in Chapters yesterday when it finally hit me: Books are the best gifts to give for almost any occasion. I think I actually stumbled upon this revelation a while ago, but never even realized it. The past few gifts that I've given out to friends have all been books and I think each one of them really appreciated it.
Just think about the criteria for a good gift:
- a surprise
- something they'll use
The book hits 1 and 2 pretty readily. Personally, I always have difficulty thinking of what somebody would want as a present, except when it's REALLY obvious (bags, games, that kind of thing). But knowing what kind of book somebody would like isn't that difficult, since books are already super specialized already and you don't need special knowledge of the niche to pick out a good book. If someone I know is into fishing, I can try to get them fishing gear which would be a huge pain since I know very little about fishing, or I can get them a great book about fishing which is very easy to find. So you don't have to ASK them what they want, and that's how you get the surprise + personal aspect.
Almost everybody reads, so if you get someone a book that they're actually interested in, there's a pretty good chance that they'll sit down and take the time to read it. Again, one of the worst things is giving someone a present and then they never make use of it, that sucks!
And of course, they're economical. You don't have to break the bank, though there is a pretty wide variety of prices, you can get a paperback for less than $10 or you can get some signed special edition for a few hundred. But when you start getting into the expensive territory it's probably better to move away from the book area, unless they're a librarian.