A gift beyond words... since 1932

First conceived in the 1920s, National Book Tokens started life in 1932 when Harold Raymond, a publisher, noted with dismay that, of the innumerable Christmas gifts received by his friends and family, only three were books.

He questioned the "capacity for giving pleasure" of many of the presents received, commenting that surely a book is more welcome a gift than a "hatpin, ornament, photo frame…or ashtray".

His conclusion was that the chief difficulty people found when giving a book was the fear of getting the wrong book, a fear he assumed did not "apply equally to cigarettes or powder puffs".

More than 90 years later, his invention is going strong, helping people across the UK and Ireland to share their love of books with friends and family, happy in the knowledge that they have chosen a gift worth giving.

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Archive images

'An appreciation of a token', The Guardian Life & Style

Lucy Mangan, writing in The Guardian to celebrate the 75th anniversary of National Book Tokens in 2007, reflected on the 'charming origin' of the gift cards we know and love today. 

Gift cards

'80th anniversary: book tokens through the decades'

To mark the 80th anniversary of National Book Tokens in 2012, The Guardian celebrated with a look at the way in which the tokens have changed over the decades, from the 1930s to the present day.


Our gift cards

National Book Tokens are the only gift cards accepted in all major bookselling chains and independents across the UK and Ireland, including WHSmith, Waterstones, Blackwell's, Easons, John Smith, Foyles and all good independent bookshops. 

Designed by booklovers for booklovers, our range of gift cards designs and products offer something for every reader, and for every occasion.

Buy a gift card

Buying a gift card

There's a National Book Token for every reader. Choose from our range of beautiful, bookish gift cards, e-Gift cards and monthly book tokens, and give a booklover a gift beyond words. Buy from hundreds of bookshops across the UK and Ireland, and online.

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Spending a gift card

Using a gift card

National Book Tokens are the only gift cards which can be spent in hundreds of bookshops in the UK and Ireland. Find your nearest shop, check your balance, add your gift card to an online wallet, or get a replacement for an expired card.

Find out more


Whether you need to check the status of an order or find out where to spend your gift card, find all the answers to your questions on our help pages. Browse by category, or find out how to get in touch with our friendly customer service team.

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