Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's not regifting, it's personal

Inspiration comes from familiar, unique places and experiences. One of mine is my favorite movies, You've Got Mail -- if you know me you need no explanation on why this is. So, I was reading over an original script and -- oh, my -- so much has changed between the script and the final cut. Most of the cut scenes I am very glad they altered or removed, as they take away from the integrity of the movie. But there's one line I wish they had kept in: "My mother would never have wanted us to have a website. 'Every book you sell is a gift from your heart.' She always said that."
At first I completely agreed with this, every book you sell is from the heart. But as I mulled it over, I believe it is more appropriate to say "every book you give is a gift from your heart." Though I recommend books I love and feel strongly about, they aren't always from my heart. They can't be. For instance, when a customer asks what book to give for a Wimpy Kid and Percy Jackson fan (two series I respect but aren't a fan of), I'm going to recommend Mystic Phyles. I'm not partial to this book, but I recommend it because it is what they are looking for -- it is what their literary attention is craving. My goal, as a bookseller, is to give (a) a great piece of literature, (b) provide the customer with a book they will love and is appropriate for them.
I am not the one ultimately giving the book to this child I have never met. I am simply providing an important direction. Therefore, I think it is the gift from the giver that should be given from the heart. It's painful when when a customer chooses a random book with little to no thought as to whether the recipient will love or learn from it.
Almost always, even if I am hand selling the most inspirational book I've read all year, there's a choice that trumps it. I encourage customers to give a gift that they have a connection with. So, if someone is looking for a gift for a young girl and they loved a particular book, like, The Secret Garden, and it changed their life, I will encourage them to go with The Secret Garden. Not only will their enthusiasm rub off on the givee, but there will be a connection made from the givee to the giver. Too often, gifts are just random objects, when they really should be pieces of ourselves.  Gifts should be personal.

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