Ideas for "home library" kit as a wedding gift
August 27, 2016 9:36 AM   Subscribe

A couple of literary friends are getting married, and I'd like to indulge their bibliophile tendencies. What are some ideas for gifts that would make practical additions to a home library?

I started by being interested in getting them custom bookplates. I was surprised not to find too many that I really liked. If you know of sources for elegant, non-cheesy personalized bookplates, please add them here.

From there I started thinking about what else would make a good home library. These folks read a lot of history, so a nice magnifying glass might be helpful. An embosser or book stamp is another option. Then I thought, hey, MetaFilter would be a great place to ask this question. Imagine opening up a beautifully wrapped box that contains a selection of things for bringing your care and reading of special books up a notch. What's in it?
posted by Miko to Shopping (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Bookends? (Too obvious?)
posted by she's not there at 9:48 AM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do you know their taste in books? I like to go to old bookstores and look for signed and valuable copies of favorite books.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:57 AM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

If they have weighty reference tomes they consult frequently (like a big Liddell or the compact OED), a book stand is handy.

If they have fragile books that they prefer to handle only minimally, book snakes can be handy.
posted by praemunire at 10:01 AM on August 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

Googling "history themed bookends" returned a lot of boring (to me, anyway) options, e.g., gifts for the history buff, but you might find more interesting options if the topic were more specific—history of science or early American history.
posted by she's not there at 10:02 AM on August 27, 2016

You can do custom bookplates very easily by commissioning a small piece of art via one of the many avenues for doing that, getting a bunch of copies printed on acid free paper, cut to size, and giving them the result along with an acid free glue stick. Voila! Bookplates.

Acid free tape for repairs. Library mylar so they can make their own protective covers.

A copy of Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris, one of my very favorite books on books.

If you know what kind of history they're particularly fond of, a historical atlas (The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History is one of my favorites) might be good--sometimes it's hard to envision where extinct principalities were located or how armies moved around.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 10:03 AM on August 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

If they like fiction, 'The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies' is a marvellous book. Simply look up your issue and it prescribes a book or three dealing with that subject. I think it would be a wonderful gift for a couple deciding to spend the rest of their lives together.

And it's a good looking tome:
posted by doornoise at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Frank Lloyd Wright bookmarks

etsy has some beautiful bookplates?
posted by speakeasy at 10:10 AM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I will say that as a kid, we had a big wooden book stand with a unabridged dictionary and I learned an awful lot. I love the idea of a reference book or just something beautiful set open there.
posted by rubster at 10:56 AM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Felix Doolittle does bookplates (you need to go past all the horse/rider/hunting ones... ugh ... to find most of the nicer ones).

Levenger page nibs.

There are also decorative pillows that look like books.
posted by gudrun at 11:01 AM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

The compact Oxford English Dictionary comes with a magnifying glass and is a lovely set to own.
posted by mulcahy at 11:20 AM on August 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Do they have favorite kinds of books? a gift certificate to a good local or specialist bookstore
Here for independent bookstores
Here for antiquarian book sellers

Kinda odd but repair supplies? depending on what they collect you could get them a book first aid kitrepair supplies

yes etsy for bookplates
posted by oneear at 11:26 AM on August 27, 2016

If they have any plans to digitally catalog their books, a lifetime personal membership to library thing is $25.
posted by Cerabee at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

If "books" is the question, then a shelf is the answer. Not a bookcase wrapped in wedding paper, but some sort of gift certificate for shelves. Depending on how deep your pockets are, anything from a custom woodworking store (local or online) to whatever Big Box store in your area is the best bet (here, it's Fred Meyer).

Personally, I prefer to choose my own books (particularly if they're large and/or need a separate stand), and I've several times had a sinking feeling when given -- obviously chosen with much love and effort -- a package of bookplates that are just ... not what I would have chosen.

Honestly, if someone really really loves something, I've found it best to avoid gifts in that area, unless they're gift certificates, and even then it can be iffy.

In this case, since they read a lot of history, but it's not as central to their interests as books are, how about a membership to a local history museum or association, or a local historical map?
posted by kestralwing at 11:57 AM on August 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

Thornwillow Press has elegant bookplates.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:08 PM on August 27, 2016

Instead of bookplates, which do irrevocable damage to the book, I recommend bookmarks. You can have a number of them printed up with a nice quote or their names or both. Choose a lightweight but stiffish paper, something like parchment, in a nice color (like champagne) or just offwhite. They're elegant, personalized, and useful.
posted by MovableBookLady at 12:12 PM on August 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

If they are crafty people and have old books, maybe a book repair kit?

I am a bibliophile and my dream book-related gift would be something along the lines of: comfy chair, awesome reading lamp, beautiful bookshelves. Do they have anything like this on their registry that you could purchase as part of this gift?
posted by Owl of Athena at 12:35 PM on August 27, 2016

Bring Your Own Book game!
posted by kittydelsol at 2:31 PM on August 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Stands. Library steps.
posted by BWA at 2:34 PM on August 27, 2016

Definitely shelves. A reader can never have too many shelves.
posted by epj at 3:52 PM on August 27, 2016

Seconding a LibraryThing account, ideally paired with a CueCat. Having a digital version of your library is surprisingly handy!

Depending on how much you want to spend, a tangential idea would be an Ideal Bookshelf print of their mixed favorites.

And another idea, if you don't want to do a giftcard, would be a bookstore/publisher subscription of some sort. Strand has one, as do a number of small presses (AK Press is one example)
posted by veery at 4:56 PM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would die for a Kik stool:

I have always wanted one, they remind me of so many good hours in the library.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:31 PM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

A Levo Book Holder Floor Stand is expensive, but it's a superb gift for readers. Ever since I bought one, my reading rate, endurance, and comfort have greatly improved. It holds a book out in front of you at an adjustable distance as you slothfully slack in your recliner or couch. It will support a heavy book as you lie in bed without tiring your arms, and it even clamps my Kindle DX. If your friends live in the same town as you, you might want to have it shipped to your house where you can take the time to assemble it for them first; I found it a bit of a mechanical challenge.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:41 PM on August 27, 2016

A word of caution, especially because you are such a loving and enthusiastic gift- giver - - many book collectors will not use bookplates. If you're not sure that they do (or will), see if you can make certain before committing to them.
posted by janey47 at 9:13 PM on August 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

How about a gift certificate to a used book store? They can spend an afternoon together plumbing the depths of the store to find random books that they will both love but no one would ever think about getting for them.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:47 AM on August 28, 2016

Response by poster: They do use bookplates - they're not book collectors worried about condition, they just love literature and books are their personal items. I understand there's a difference.

Thanks for the great suggestions, everyone!
posted by Miko at 9:50 AM on August 29, 2016

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