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Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Paper Published a Holiday Books Guide in 1851 — and Every Year Since | Inside the List - New York Times

It turns out that people have liked to give books as gifts for a long time. Here’s a peek at how tastes have changed over the years, says Tina Jordan, Editor & columnist at the New York Times. 

Thanks to the holidays, book sales soar in November and December. People often turn to gift guides — like The Times’s most recent edition — for inspiration.

It’s been that way for a while. In 1851, the year it began publishing, The Times ran two holiday gift-book guides — one for adults, which recommended such titles as “The Women of Early Christianity” and “Legends of the Flowers” (“imaginary conversations between lilies, jasmines, violets and the rest”), and one for children, which highlighted “Queer Bonnets” (“a story with a very excellent moral for these days of lavish dress”) and “Contentment Is Better than Wealth” (“admirable tales for young folks”). Beautifully illustrated books were popular then; the paper noted plenty of “heavy cream-tinted paper, broad margins and the finest engravings,” “luxurious bindings” and “extremely rich and elaborate illustrations.”

At first, the gift books were largely nonfiction — many of them special editions and keepsakes — but as the years passed, The Times began to include more fiction...

By 1906, the holiday books guide had grown so large that it had to be split into two issues. An article in the paper that year stated, “We take no little pride in our double Holiday Book Number, which … will comprise 56 pages, and in the rich variety and value of its contents this special number certainly surpasses any previous achievement in literary journalism.”

Source: New York Times