It’s graduation season but something’s changed. There seem to be fewer of those dopey ‘life’s lessons by famous people’ gift books on offer than in years past – and that’s fine with me. Every year, I’d see that predictable crop at the booksellers – smallish tomes with bright covers, lots of white space on each page, and a price point just below $20. Most of them, I suspect were just expensive containers for those more important gift checks.
The first thing the new grad would do with the book would be to turn it upside down to see if any checks or c-notes fell out. The second thing would be to toss the book in the corner, where it would await donation to a charity used-book sale.
This little ritual may be dying out. If so, its demise is probably helped by the explosion of iPads, tablets and such.
Today’s young Ashley and Joshua – they don’t do dead tree versions of things, and their kindly aunt/uncle/grandparent, etc. is very comfortable with buying online. So why buy the kids a hardcover book, or, for that matter, an ebook version? It’s much easier just to send ‘em an electronic gift card and let them choose for themselves.
Here’s what I don’t think they’re going to choose: a compilation of smug, self-satisfied, generic advice from somebody who never tried to get a job in a recession. So what if the kids choose this year’s version of escapist fiction? Considering our still-lousy economic situation, the graduating generation probably needs the relief that escapism provides.
If I may recommend a gift, it would be to give practical, concrete help to the job-seeking graduate. How about offering to do practice interviews? Better yet, giving a job referral? It’s not as easy as picking up a book or gift card, but will have more lasting benefits – and a better chance of being fondly remembered a few years down the road.