Is it really the thought that counts? Then think about spending nothing on the ones you love this holiday season. They’ll thank you for it.
Librivox is an open-source website containing thousands of audio recordings of books in the public domain. Volunteers read books aloud, then upload mp3 files to the Librivox website for you to download, free. Browse or search for the book you’re thinking of, then either download the mp3 directly or subscribe to chapters as a podcast via iTunes (there’s an enclosed link for you to do so on the dedicated page for every book). From there, you could burn the results as an audio CD (for 40 cents!) or upload it to your dears’ mp3 players. Contentment ensues.
Would you like to give the complete works of Jane Austen? How about some Edgar Alan Poe? Or Mark Twain? Do you know someone studying German? Give them the poems of Rilke. Or perhaps your Russian scholar would like to listen to Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground in the original Russian to dampen her melancholy spirits a bit as she sips her chai. The possibilities aren’t endless, but they’re pretty wide.