Shop local gift guide: gift ideas for book lovers #yegSanta

This holiday season, I think it’s important that you not only shop local but, whenever possible, support an industry that you yourself are passionate about.

I’m a writer and magazine editor. I am very, very fortunate and thankful to have a job in an industry that I am passionate about — especially when it’s a very small industry. I often meet people who tell me that they would love to write for magazines, but it seems *really* hard and there are *no* jobs in the field, and so do I have any advice or suggestions for them?

I always reply with the same question: What magazines do you read?

I think that reading is one of the best ways to become a better writer. It was my own love of reading — books and magazines — that made me interested in working in the publishing industry and that made me a publishable writer. Now that I do work in the industry, I continue to read not only because I enjoy it but also because it informs my own work and because I want this industry to thrive. It’s the source of my work and leisure.

So, it always startles me when wannabe writers respond that they don’t read magazines. None. They can’t think of the last time they read a magazine, let alone purchased one.

I’m similarly startled when The Local Good reports that a local restaurant has shut down (we’ve lost Bistro Saisons, Ouisa and The Makk on 124 Street in 2013) and people are shocked and saddened to see it gone … yet they admit that they rarely, if ever, ate there.

If you want to be able to work in and/or enjoy a particular small-scale industry, then it makes sense to me that you should support that very industry. While financial support is what will allow the industry to thrive/survive and potentially provide job opportunities for you, your involvement will also allow you to grow your own interest.

So, my suggestion this holiday season is to buy gifts for your family and friends that support an industry that you’re passionate about, while keeping it as local as possible. For instance, I’m buying my friends and family books and magazine subscriptions (those of you expecting a gift from me… sorry for ruining the surprise). Books and magazines come in enough varieties that each gift can be personalized to the recipient, AND I can keep (most) of my purchases local.

Here are my shop local gift ideas for book lovers:

  • Shop for new releases and popular titles at Edmonton’s favourite local bookshop, Audreys Books.
  • Find some really unique, niche books and magazines at Duchess Provisions, Tix on the Square, SHOP AGA, Red Ribbon Boutique and Vivid Print. I bought my friend the Indie Rock Colouring Book from Vivid Print; it’s unique, fun and she loves all of the artists who contributed to the book. Red Ribbon carries the really lovely food and travel magazine Cereal — a great gift idea for any foodie or the friend that always has travel on the brain. All of these locations tend to carry some beautiful coffee table books which are a great gift idea for practically anyone on your list.
  • Give books by local authors! So many new releases this season to choose from. I’ve already bought so many copies of Michael Hingston’s The Dilettantes for my grad school friends that I think I should start getting royalty cheques (just kidding, Michael. But you’re welcome. Great book, by the way). Todd Babiak’s Come Barbarians is suspenseful, witty, and it will convince fans of any genre to keep reading. Lynn Coady’s collection of short stories, Hellgoing, is probably on a lot of wish lists this year after it won the Giller Prize. In hipster-esque fashion I read it before it won the Giller, so I can attest that it is an enthralling read.
  • Any Edmontonian will appreciate the stories of the magic and frustrations of winter in 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology. Actually, it makes a great gift for people not living in Edmonton, too. After reading it maybe they’ll understand why you complain about the weather so often yet wouldn’t think of living anywhere else.

 What other gift suggestions (or suggestions for local retailers) do you have for book lovers? Let me know in the comments below or share your ideas on Twitter using #yegSanta.

Happy Holidays!