I love getting books for Christmas and birthday presents. My friends and family know this, which is why, when I was about 10 and still got presents from all my aunts and uncles and cousins, I once got 15 books for Christmas and 7 for my birthday. These days I am lucky to get one book, usually for Christmas.
As a child and young teen I was happy with whatever books I got, but then things developed so that the only people who ever gave me books were the ones who had no clue as to what I liked to read. But that was fine because I realised that unwanted books could be exchanged for books I wanted, or for store credit that could be used later. How I loved store credit!
In Iceland the main season for publishing and buying books is the months before Christmas. At some point, about 10-15 years go, the supermarkets got in the game, selling books at considerably cheaper prices than the book shops, but only the books likely to sell well and only from about mid-November to Christmas. It’s a boon for budget-conscious people, because books are expensive in Iceland, but it’s a nuisance for someone like me, who rarely gets given books I want to keep.
As I already mentioned, I used to be able to take whatever unwanted romance novel* or cookbook I already owned that people usually give me and exchange them for store credit in book shops, but this has been ruined because of people who would buy the cheap supermarket books and then make a profit by returning them to book shops and selling their store credit for cash. To fight this, the book shops first started levying a return fee for books not bought from them, but now they have clamped down and will only accept returns of books that were bought from them. This is done by the buyer requesting that a return sticker be put on the books when they are bought, and the giftee then usually has 2 weeks in which they can return the books for credit.
This is all good and fine and understandable, because who wouldn’t want to be able to give more lavish gifts for less money? The problem is that when people give me supermarket books and I return them, I end up being able to only buy groceries for my credit at the chain that sells the books at the cheapest prices. I ask you: would you give groceries for Christmas to someone who doesn’t need it?
*I'm not dissing romances, but romance translators are badly paid around these parts and it shows in the translations.