Monday, November 10, 2008

Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

As we lurch towards the biggest shopping season of the year, it strikes me that the way we spend our dollars will count more than ever. With the economy in dire straits, every penny we spend sends a message to the world about what's important, what we support, who is most deserving of our hard-earned cash.

Every shopping trip involves so many decisions: The mall, a behemoth-sized box store, or smaller, locally owned shops? A gift certificate from or a purchase from a local independent bookstore? Stretch the budget by buying toys and clothes made cheaply in countries that seem less concerned with the safety of their workers or consumers than they are with the bottom line? Sometimes the balance between meeting a budget and supporting our values can feel overwhelming.

Here's a solution: buy books for the holidays! I'm proud to be involved in an effort to encourage people to do just that. The brainchild of My Friend Amy, with contributions by book-savvy bloggers including yours truly, Buy Books for the can be your go-to place for holiday book-shopping ideas. Shopping for a mystery-lover who loves dogs? A man who doesn't read fiction, likes horse-racing, puns, and gory movies? A teen who adored Harry Potter before outgrowing it several years ago? Let us help solve all your gift-giving dilemmas! Even better, if 100 people sign up to commit to buying books for the holidays, Amy will contribute $100 to First Book.

In case there are people on your list for whom books just aren't suitable (say they're backpacking through Asia for 3 years, or they live on a boat, or they're allergic to paper), how about buying a CD from a local musician (local bookstores often sell those, too!)? A work of art from a local artisan? Fair Trade chocolate? If you're clever or crafty, homemade gifts are great, though personally I rarely get organized enough to do this idea justice.

Most years I do some of my holiday shopping at our church's Alternative Gift Fair, which offers the opportunity to spend gift money on things like rainforest tree-plantings, community gardens, and school supplies for children in third-world countries. The recipient gets a nice certificate and a brochure telling them about the contribution. This is a great gift for people who already have the material things they need, and you don't need a special Gift Fair to make it happen--many organizations will be delighted to provide a "gift certificate" in exchange for a donation.

What's important to you? I hope we can all find a way to tailor our holiday spending, to do double duty this year. And if books are important to you, Buy Books for the is ready, willing and able to help make your holiday shopping a breeze.


  1. I just want to say that if (when) I ever live on a boat - I will still welcome books as gifts! brand new hardcovers with the receipt so I can take it back if I've already read it please. Thanks!

  2. I won't buy books exclusively this holiday season, but I buy books for my son and nephew every Christmas.

  3. Oh I'm definitely buying books for my friends for their Christmas present. I hope they do the same. lol :)

    Thanks for the link!