I’ve finished most of my Christmas shopping, and I have acquired many books for my friends and family. I hesitate to list them, because I’m not quite sure who among them reads Genreality and who doesn’t, and I don’t want to give anything away. But this seems like a great year for books as gifts. Lots of favorite authors have new offerings, lots of favorite blogs are producing gift and humor books (so much for the internet killing the print industry, eh?), lots of “gift sets” of favorite series are available. A quick survey of what I got: for my former-pilot dad, a non-fiction book on experimental aircraft; for a steampunk friend, a gift book on archaic customs and gadgets; for that extra emergency gift, a favorite novel by a favorite author.
This is another thing I miss from working in the bookstore — I did my Christmas shopping on the clock. I knew all the great books we had in stock, and I could match them to everyone on my list. I also loved doing this for other people — I only had to ask a couple of questions (What kind of books do they like? What are their hobbies?) and I could usually come up with great gifts for someone else, too.
If you’ve never tried this — walking into a bookstore (preferably your local independent) and asking an employee to help you find the perfect gift — give it a whirl. The knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff will most likely astound you. I especially loved Christmas Eve — which sounds insane, doesn’t it? Working retail on Christmas Eve, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, ought to be horrific. But it wasn’t, because it went so fast, and I spent all day helping desperate people who’d rush into the store looking for the perfect gift, and 99% of the time they were ecstatic when they left, because I’d been able to help them. And we had free gift wrapping.
On a completely different topic, Tor Books revealed the cover to my next stand alone novel, After the Golden Age, due out in April 2011. In this post, art director Irene Gallo discusses the cover, and also shows off several different versions of it that they considered. It’s a bit of a window into how book covers get made. For the record, I absolutely love the cover that won out: