Dear Indigo:

You know what I’m going to ask, don’t you? How could you not, what with the stores being stocked for the winter holidays since autumn? Here’s my question, to be clear: got any good present recommendations for writers and readers?

Santa Claus


Hi, Santa,

With the help of some elves I know, yes, I do have some great ideas! Here are sixteen, listed not in order of importance but just as I collected them. They’re also not exhaustive—for every specific example we suggest, there are many others just as wonderful.

1) Work with your favorite bookseller to create a collection of books (given as actual books or as a gift card with an accompanying suggestions list) for that special someone on your list. Your neighborhood bookseller would love to try to match that person’s personality traits, interests, and reading habits with titles that delight and intrigue.

If the store is busy and there is only one employee working, that person may not be able to spend as much time as this gift requires. You may want to call ahead to coordinate your schedule with the bookseller’s.

And Indigo also recommends our clients. Over the year, we have discussed many on our Facebook page. We’re happy to remind you of titles. Just ask!

2) Feeling too introverted to dialogue? That’s cool. Check out the store’s staff picks. Staff may keep a running list in the store or on the store’s website or Facebook page, or they may post comment cards by individual books. Or consider selecting a nice collection of Portland or Pacific Northwest authors. Booksellers usually keep lists of those too. What about a bundle of books for “extreme readers”? Skim book award lists, from state award nominees and winners to national and international lists!

3) Sometimes you don’t want “just” books—you want books on books. One of the elves I know said, “I am seriously digging this outrageously great new book on writing, which I wanted so much I just bought it myself.”

Even kids can have fun digging deeper into language and book production.

4) Lynne Truss and Bonnie Timmons, of Eats, Shoots & Leaves fame, have produced illustrated punctuation books for kids.There’s one on apostrophes; that famous one, but geared toward kids, on commas; and one on all sorts of punctuation!

5) The inestimable Chip Kidd has created a graphic design book for kids (but, psst, Indigo’s favorite designer says it’s a good resource for anyone, no matter the age, designing a book cover).

6) And Pantone, tried and true, has an awesome color book for kids, perfect for the budding book designer.

Now let’s talk stuff.

7) What about a really great lap desk, the kind with a curved wooden top and a nice padded cushion, a laptop stand, or a standing or treadmill desk?

8) One elf saw these at Wordstock and has already requested the handwarmers for Christmas.

9) Quiet Doing offers wallets that look like lined notebook paper, composition books, and computer keyboards.

10) Know someone who’s attached to both a laptop and a spiral notebook? What about a digital Moleskin notebook, Livescribe system, or the like?

And there’s always fun for free!

11) Give the gift of togetherness by participating in Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, December 7.

12) Many a writer would love this adorable “decorative minibook” ornament of the Chicago Manual of Style.

The best part about giving is, well, the giving, so go for the gusto.

13) Donate money or subscriptions to periodicals to a literacy program, shelter, or library.

14) Gather together with friends or family to donate books from home libraries. (Hey, that also makes room for the new gifts you’ll be receiving!)

15) Give someone a subscription or membership to a writing-related organization.

Finally, for number sixteen, remember that you can always give a writer entry into an Indigo class or an Indigo editing or publishing service. Just email to discuss your gift idea!

May your days be merry and bright this chilly season!


Next year some of the authors with whom we’ve worked will be taking the reins for this feature article and sharing their pro tips. Look for the first one in January!

Kristin Thiel is Indigo’s co-owner and senior editor.