Fancy coffee-table books as gifts.
September 23, 2012 10:18 AM   Subscribe

What coffee-tableish books would you like to get for around US$300 to $400? Alternatively, what books would make good gifts?

My husband's boss usually waits till a week or two before Christmas to ask him to come up with a good gift to give the directors in the company. We're always scrambling to come up with good ideas and have ended up with Kindles one year and Bose speakers last year. This year I'm getting ahead and thought maybe a good book or set of books about Art, Food, Architecture or such would make good gifts. The boss would probably appreciate something like this, as he is always getting books for his employees (usually of the more self-help or informative type). Plus, since we get to choose and then also receive said gift, I'd love to have a book or set to look at or to show of. Any ideas?
posted by CrazyLemonade to Society & Culture (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
It can be either one good book, or a set with several volumes. Extra points if they can be purchased on Amazon or any other easily accessible place.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:20 AM on September 23, 2012

It's $450 on Amazon right now, but Modernist Cuisine has gotten a lot of raves. It's a pretty spectacular looking set, too.
posted by ronofthedead at 10:26 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

At that price point, you should look into books put out by Taschen. They run some beautiful limited editions at those prices (and up), as well as huge beautifully produced editions of classics like this beautiful anatomy book. If you wanted to get a few books, they'd be a great choice if your husband's company does anything about travel, art, architecture, advertising, or fashion. But they put out all kinds of stuff.

They also do little soft-cover 5x7 and 8.5x11 books, if you guys also needed to find some smaller gifts.
posted by Sara C. at 10:28 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Times Atlas of the World. It's, simply, the best and most impressive and most *amazing* atlas to browse. I WISH I had one.
posted by mdonley at 10:29 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Modernist Cuisine set is by far the most amazing book set I have ever seen. If you have any appreciation for food or science than you will love it. It's pricy, but there is nothing else out there that comes even remotely close to it, and it will impress anyone you show it to.
posted by markblasco at 10:34 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

The "jumbo" version of Albertus Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities (printed by Taschen) was the coffee table book to have a few years ago. They can be a bit hard to find now, but Amazon and eBay sellers usually have them in the $400-$500 range.

Also, these two are way under your price range, but Martina Margetts' book on Tord Boontje and Irma Boom's Colour Based on Nature are both beautifully made.
posted by neushoorn at 10:43 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Art Museum, from Phaidon.
posted by scody at 11:06 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

It can be either one good book, or a set with several volumes.

How many copies do you need? You said the book will be a present for the directors in the company so I am not sure if that is 5 copies or 15.

Most of the books I would recommend are out of print so finding several copies all within your price range might be tricky.

With your budget I would definitely have a look at:

D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers

Aperture Rare & Special and Limited Editions
posted by mlis at 11:47 AM on September 23, 2012

Thirding Modernist Cuisine. I own it (received as a gift) and love it. It's beautiful, impressive, and interesting to read.
posted by tealcake at 12:17 PM on September 23, 2012

Abbeville Press publishes a number of interesting books, though most are slightly below your price point. I'd love to have a copy of Fine Bonsai, for instance.
posted by brianogilvie at 12:41 PM on September 23, 2012

Four books by Edward Tufte. They're about $50 each from his web site, cheaper at online booksellers.

I liked the first three very much. The fourth - Beautiful Evidence - is in fact beautiful, but I didn't feel like I learned as much from it.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Envisioning Information
Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative
Beautiful Evidence

Also entertaining is his screed against PowerPoint.
posted by Bruce H. at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

As well as Taschen, also have a look at publisher Phaidon. I have the Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture. It is a massive book (need a decent sized coffee table!), organised by region of the world, with stunning examples of modern architecture.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:32 PM on September 23, 2012

another vote for the Times Atlas!
posted by TDIpod at 4:40 PM on September 23, 2012

There are around 8 people who would get this gift.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:13 PM on September 23, 2012

Another vote for the Modernist.
posted by fullerenedream at 7:20 PM on September 23, 2012

The Atlas of Architecture looks just like just the sort of thing we're looking for. It's even appropriate for the context, as the company is in real estate development. The Art Museum looks really cool too. I appreciate any and all suggestions you might have.

(I don't think the boss would see Modernist Cuisine as something good for this sort of gift, but I certainly have wanted to have it since I saw it mentioned in Top Chef. )
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:20 PM on September 23, 2012

I hate to be the fly in the ointment, but I'd MUCH rather get an Amazon gift card than a huge, doorstop of a book that I may not like.

Sure, it's handsome looking, but think about lugging that thing home on the subway. Then moving it. Then actually sitting down to read it. It's just not possible. And really, who reads those damn things? Aren't they just props for model-homes?

This would just be some tome that hangs around the office or someones home until it gets donated to the library five years hence because no one would buy it at the yard sale.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:28 AM on September 24, 2012

Codex Seraphinianus.
posted by taltalim at 2:58 PM on September 24, 2012

Ruthless Bunny, these are all people who get to and from work in cars, so at least the "lugging a huge book around" part is not a problem for them. Any type of cash or gift card is also a no-go, since they all have money and enough of it to actually buy any gadget or thingy they want in the $300 to $500 range, it's more about the intention of a thoughtful gift that my husband's boss wants to convey. Again, they all have big enough houses that I hope have at best, a place to use/show-off a good book, or at least a bookcase to store it in.

But by all means, if you can think of a better gift for this budget and these type of people, we can always use more ideas than what's been said before. Really.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 6:11 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't have any book suggestions but in the spirit of your suggestion of other ideas for gifts, have you ever thought of a posh gift basket?

Dean & Deluca
You can create your own basket here.

Harry & David


Are they all meat eaters? I once got a gift box of gourmet meats (mostly different cuts of steak) that I LOVED. Mine was from a Scottish butcher, but I'm sure you could find something similar in the region that you're in.

(At my last job, a vendor we did business with sent us a Fortnum & Mason basket every year. Everyone, and I mean everyone - men, women, old, young - was ALL OVER THAT).
posted by triggerfinger at 7:01 PM on September 24, 2012

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