Gift Dilemma: WWYD?

Do you have a policy on gift giving?

The Bear That Heard Crying is one of Hannah’s favorite books.  It’s a beautifully illustrated story (based on a true event) about a little girl in the late 1700s in New Hampshire who got lost in the woods and was protected by a bear.  You can get it in paperback form from Amazon, but recently I was in Half Price Books and found a hardcover copy in excellent condition with the paper jacket still on and everything.  I was so excited to find it that I went ahead and bought it, figuring Hannah and/or Jack could give it as a gift for a birthday party or something.

However, once I got home I began to have second thoughts.  Is it OK to give used books as a present to some other child?  We give used books to our kids as gifts, but maybe other families don’t like that sort of thing.  Books are sort of difficult gifts anyway because you never know what a family already has. 

So what do you think?  Would you give a used book in good condition as a gift?  What would you think if you or your child received one?

16 thoughts on “Gift Dilemma: WWYD?

  1. I wouldn’t hesitate to give a used book in good condition as a gift. Another thought . . . there are so many terrific books that are out of print that deserve to be read! I was so tickled recently to be gifted with a book that I read when I was in grade school (39 years ago! Arghhh), that I had been hunting for for years. My mom spotted it at a rummage sale based solely on my description of the cover – “Emily Jane” by Patricia Clapp. I had always remembered this spooky ghost story, but over time had forgotten the title and author. I am so happy to have it to read again.

  2. Hi, Catherine! I have given used books before when they look almost new! Many times when I’ve bought new books at a bookstore, they still have a few slight imperfections. If I can find a used book that still looks new, I don’t think it’s a problem at all! My children would love to receive any kind of book – new or used! It makes no difference to them!


  3. i wouldn’t care if i received a used book as a gift. it’s more frugal, it saves trees and other resources to reuse a book, etc. plus, i think books are meant to be passed around and shared, especially if it’s a beloved book.

    as far as giving a book as a gift, i might include the gift receipt with it in case they do already have it and would like to exchange it for something else. otherwise, i wouldn’t even mention where you bought it — half-price generally only takes gently used books anyway, and it’s not like you bought it at a garage sale or something.

    i dunno, just my 2 cents.

  4. Our family loves to read and one of our favourite gifts to give is books.I think every child should know the joy of reading.Even if we find books that are a little used, that’s okay most children enjoy a book,especially the younger ones.I will have to see if I can find a copy of the book above,it looks like we would enjoy it. Thanks

  5. I think gently used books make great gifts and have both given and received them. We have really enjoyed reading Sarah Whitcher’s Story by Elizabeth Yates.

  6. I would probably give it if it looked good. Is that based upon the story of Sarah Witcher? James read that this year in his school program, and we both really enjoyed the story. Sounds like the same one!

  7. I have received a used book as a gift, Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, and I thought it was great.

    I think books are just fine to give second hand. 🙂

  8. I love ANY book as a gift. As long as it is clean and in good condition, I see no problem for you to give it. Books are the best gifts, new or otherwise 🙂

  9. I think it is perfectly acceptable. You obviously enjoyed the act of purchasing it and the receiver would get no less enjoyment of it because it is gently used. Isn’t that the heart of gift-giving – the joy of giving and receiving.

    I purchased “A Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do it Yourself Diary” at a thrift store, intending to give it to my cousin’s son at Christmas. They were coming to join my extended family’s celebration and I wanted him to have something to open. I knew that he liked those books and that my own teen son would NEVER use that book at all.

    The day I got ready to wrap the gift, I gave it one last once over and … sadly, discovered one page where a previous owner had written something. URGHHH! The poor boy received gloves instead. I think he would have enjoyed the book more, but I couldn’t bring myself to go ahead and give the gift after all.

    I agree with the previous commenter, who stated that ANY gift of a book usually thrills me.

  10. My grandma-in-law gives me about 10 used books every Christmas. Unfortunately they are not books I particularly want to read. Last year she gave me “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul,” which would be fine, except we don’t have any kids yet!!!

    I think it matters far more that a book reflects thoughtfulness towards the person receiving the gift than where it came from!

  11. I was surprised how many people are enthusiastic about used books, based on the above comments!

    I don’t mind receiving used books, but I try to only give used books if it is an out-of-print or difficult to find item. If I could buy it new at the local bookstore, then it just looks kinda cheap to give used. Silly social expectations, but they are real nonetheless.

  12. I wouldn’t give a used book as a birthday/Christmas gift unless it was a special edition or an out-of-print one (one that wasn’t obtainable as a new copy). I would, however, give them at other times – i.e. ” I found a copy of this book at the used bookstore and I know you would love it”, or place them in my guest room bookshelf for people coming to stay. I feel the same way as the previous poster – I feel that it makes the giver appear cheap, and I would prefer to go without something myself and buy a new copy than give a used one. Sad, perhaps, but true…

    Speaking of books – HUGE congratulations on finishing your novel! I would LOVE to hear more about the process. How on earth did you find time to fit it all in?

  13. I agree with Kathleen — so many wonderful books are out of print, or only available in paperback. After searching some time before found Hannah’s copy of The Bear Who Heard Crying in hardback, I’d say you made a tremendous find! But then, I’m one of THOSE people who gives used books. (Hooray for Titcomb’s in Sandwich, MA!)

  14. In my opinion, a gift is a gift and should be appreciated no matter what it is. Who is the receiver to judge what is in a person’s heart to give? Gifts should not be expected. Any social rules that say giving anything as a gift is not okay totally misunderstand gift-giving. Once, a little kid gave me a peanut. It was lovely. One of my favorite wedding gifts was the 20-year-old wrapping paper used to wrap something I have now forgotten. But the used wrapping paper was so special, from the woman’s own wedding.

    As a writer, I do have to mention though that if you buy a used book, the author gets no royalties and may have to continue suffering the life of a starving artist. So if the price different between Amazon and used is small, go with the new and help an author out… but that is a whole different debate. 🙂

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