The economy is sadder than the Prince Regent confronting an empty larder.

And although the romance genre isn’t hurting as much as other genres, publishing houses are facing economic downturns.

Already, book retailers are warning that only the big names will be moving significant numbers, and houses taking chances on new names are decreasing. Random House is trying to combat the book malaise by launching a new campaign to spur sales: “Books=Gifts,” promoting the value of books as holiday gifts. Several big name authors such as Dean Koontz and Maya Angelou are lending their names and their words to the campaign, and Random House is not limiting its promotion to its own company’s books. The campaign reaches both old and new media outlets in its ad buys.

I love giving books, although I like best giving them TO ME. I find, however, that gift book giving is an idiosyncratic notion, because asking someone to read a book is a serious commitment. You can’t just toss something at them and expect them to jump right in.

How do you decide who to buy books for? What kinds of books do you buy? Do you always sneak in a book for yourself? Do you need help with suggestions for books for anyone on your list? What’s the oddest book someone has ever gotten for you?

Happy Book Buying!