Need help shopping for a book? 300 experts are waiting to hear from you

The new Penguin Hotline will connect shoppers in search of books with Penguin staffers prepared to make recommendations.

Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press/AP
Prescott Khair looks at a book for sale at Barnes & Noble while Black Friday shopping in Hamilton Place Mall on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Are you searching for just the right book for a holiday gift – but uncertain as to which title is most likely to please?

Publisher Penguin wants to help you out.

The publisher has started the Penguin Hotline, which aims to help out stymied shoppers. It’s an online hotline – you fill out a form telling Penguin staff (more than 300 will be standing by, according to industry newsletter Shelf Awareness) the age of the person you’re buying for, what that person usually reads, and other tidbits like his or her favorite hobby or TV show. If you ask, you will also be notified if there is a store near you carrying that book. And, according to the website Bustle, Penguin staff aren’t just promoting titles from their own workplace – recommendations are drawn from various publishers.

“[We] want to support anyone interested in giving a book for the holiday season,” the company said.

However, you have to plan ahead – "Note that these really are individually selected recommendations, made by real people, not algorithms," the Penguin Hotline site reads. "This human touch means it may take us a day – or two – to get back to you."

According to Shelf Awareness, Penguin was inspired by poultry producer Butterball’s hotline which aids beleaguered cooks in preparing their turkeys on Thanksgiving.

Penguin Publishing Group president Madeline McIntosh told Shelf Awareness that shoppers have already begun contacting the Penguin Hotline.

Here’s a link if you’re interested. Happy book shopping!

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