Why Book Tokens Make Great Presents

Which would you prefer to unwrap on Christmas Day, an Amazon gift card or a Book Token?

I’d go for the Book Token every time, for several reasons:

  • A Book Token means that I have to indulge and buy a book. On Amazon there’s a danger of being ‘good’ and buying something boring that you need, like an iron or a set of saucepans.
  • A Book Token promises me an outing to a real bookshop where I can enjoy the smell of new books. I can pick them up and read the blurb. I can sit in an armchair and try out the first few pages. And if I’m in one of the bigger stores, I can enjoy a coffee before deciding on my final book selection. ‘Looking inside’ just isn’t the same.
  • Buying online means clicking straight through to the bestseller everyone is talking about or automatically buying the new release of an author I know I enjoy. A Book Token offers the luxury of browsing. Other authors, new to me, will be sitting alongside the familiar – and maybe I might be tempted to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.
  • Book Tokens create business for bookshops. Do we really want a future where all our book buying has to be done online?

National Book Tokens began in 1932 when publisher Harold Raymond noticed that very few books were given as Christmas gifts because people were afraid of buying the wrong book. In 1982 the Queen attended National Book Tokens’ 50th birthday party and in 2010 National Book Tokens changed to a gift card format.

National Book tokens are not dinosaurs. They do have an online presence and they can be spent (on books not irons!) online in selected book chains. Have a look at Caboodle from National Book Tokens for offers, events, competitions and to buy tokens online (you can even design your own).

Which would you prefer to unwrap on Christmas Day, an Amazon gift card or a Book Token? Which will you be giving to family and friends?

  1. #1 by Helen Baggott on November 24, 2018 - 9:56 am

    Last week Mum bought some books with tokens she was given 30 years ago!

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on November 24, 2018 - 12:43 pm

      Wow – that’s certainly a present that lasts! Unfortunately I think the new gift card book tokens are only valid for 2 years.

      • #3 by Lisa (National Book Tokens) on November 25, 2018 - 1:11 pm

        National Book Tokens gift cards are valid for 8 years from last use – and we always replace expired cards! Find out more on our site: https://www.nationalbooktokens.com/faq

        Thanks for the lovely article!

      • #4 by Sally Jenkins on November 25, 2018 - 6:51 pm

        Thanks for the clarification, Lisa. And fantastic that the gift cards have such a long validity (if you can resist spending them for that long!)

  2. #5 by lynnforthauthor on November 24, 2018 - 3:15 pm

    How fascinating. I’d never thought of the origins of them before. And I remember so well browsing round a book shop spending my precious Birthday book tokens . The agony of choice was exquisite. and i can still remember some of the ones I bought.

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on November 24, 2018 - 7:53 pm

      Lynn, I love that phrase ‘the agony of choice was exquisite’ – it sums up the enjoyment exactly.

  3. #7 by Helen Yendall on November 24, 2018 - 8:06 pm

    I agree, Sally, a book token is a lovely treat, post-Christmas! But I also love unwrapping books on Christmas Day (IF – and it’s a big if – the person buying for me has got it right!)

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on November 25, 2018 - 11:13 am

      That is the problem, Helen. Choosing books for other people is difficult – and there’s nothing worse than receiving a book you’ve already read.

  4. #9 by juliathorley on November 26, 2018 - 9:56 am

    I have a book token in my purse that I had for my birthday. I’m putting off spending it because I have books on my Christmas list (are adults allowed to have a list?) and I don’t want to risk buying something that might be a gift. Also, it will be a lovely treat in, say, wintry February, when life can be gloomy.

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on November 26, 2018 - 5:59 pm

      Yes, Julia, adults are definitely allowed to have Christmas lists. And how lovely to save your treat for the dull days of February.

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