Bookworm Confession: Swag Isn’t My Thing. Let’s Discuss. (Plus a Giveaway)

Posted February 13, 2019 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Giveaways (Ended), Let's Discuss / 101 Comments

You go to a conference or book event, and there’s swag all around you, as far as the eye can see … bookmarks, lip balm, buttons, magnets, tote bags, notebooks, posters, chapter samplers, and more. Sometimes you see something utterly creative that you never even imagined could be made into swag!

This sounds fantastic, unless you’re like me and you really just don’t like swag all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a pretty bookmark just like the rest of you. But usually when I get home from an event or big conference, I end up thinking, What am I going to DO with all this stuff? 

I’ve made a vow that I’m going to be better about turning things down. But a lot of times these things were shoved at me with exuberance and I felt guilty when I said no thank you. The look on an author’s face when you turn down their free stuff can sometimes be sadly comical. I just imagine them thinking, What, you hate me and my book so much that you don’t even want to take home a FREE memento? (I’m probably reading too much into that look, but…) Or sometimes swag is put directly into my bag, and I actually can’t say no.

The result is that I’m left with a lot of swag I don’t really want.

Swag I’m not crazy about:

  • Posters – They’re big and often end up looking a mess by the time I get them home. And I’m not actually going to hang them, so then I just have a large swag item that’s hard to store. If I was a librarian, I think posters would be awesome. But I’m not, so…
  • Chapter samplers – I don’t like to read samplers. If I’m going to read a book, I want the whole thing. And unless it’s my ultimate favorite series or author, I don’t see the point in collecting them.
  • Temporary tattoos – I don’t get these at all. Does anyone actually want these? Do you actually wear them or do you just put them in a box somewhere until they end up destroyed?
  • Stickers – Unless they’re something really special, I’m not a fan of stickers either. I just don’t know what to do with them. Though I will say that my daughter loves stickers, so if they’re cute or interesting I give them to her. Bumper stickers are the worst. They’re giant stickers and I’m definitely not putting them on my car, so…
  • Postcards – I have lots of random cards for books, and again, I just don’t know what to do with them!
  • Random stuff – Mirrors, keychains, lotion, magnets. Honestly, most random swag makes me twitchy. Unless it’s for a book or author that I LOVE (for instance, I have playing cards for the Three Dark Crowns series, and I adore them!). OR if it’s something that really uniquely relates to the book (and I can figure out what to do with it).

Swag I’m on the fence about:

  • Tote bags – Gasp! What heresy is this?! Actually, I do like tote bags, and I’ve got a few adorable ones that I’ll probably hold onto forever. But how many tote bags do I really need? Right now, I already have an overabundance and I often get more at events. (And since my mom and I got to a lot of events together, we usually get two bags). I’m at the point now where if it’s not a “special” tote in some way, I just don’t want it.

There are a few types of swag I DO like:

  • Bookmarks – I mean, they’re useful, right? It’s nice to always have a bookmark close at hand. Of course, there can still be too much of a good thing here. I think I own more bookmarks than a human could possibly actually use and they’re piled in a drawer. Sigh.
  • Buttons/pins – This is actually my favorite swag. I collect all of my bookish buttons on one tote bag. The only problem with this is that they sometimes fall off and you risk losing those precious buttons. I’ve been seriously considering employing some super glue to make sure they stay put. What do you think? Am I crazy?
  • Character art – This is an exception to the postcard thing. I don’t like cards that just have a picture of the cover or something, but if it’s character art or some other beautifully artistic rendering, I’m happy. I still have no idea what to do with it (it’s in a drawer right now), but I’m happy to get it.
  • Lip balm – Actually useful. ‘Nuff said.

Well, like I said, I have a lot of swag I’m just not going to use. (In fact, I threw a whole bunch of it out.) But I know that a lot of people absolutely love swag, so I thought I’d rehome some of this stuff.

I’ve decided to make the process simple: comment on this post and tell me what you want. I will mail it to you. First come, first serve. The end.

(I numbered everything, so feel free to just tell me what number you want if you’re lazy. Also, I’ll have to contact you to get your mailing info, obviously.)

After 2 weeks (2/27) anything that hasn’t been claimed will be thrown out, SO if you are one of those people who loves swag, feel free to say something like, “I really want the Illuminae sampler, but I’ll also take anything that’s left at the end of two weeks.” And, guess what? Your wish is my command! (I’d much rather give it to someone than throw it away.)

Here’s what I have:

  1. Epic Reads Retelling poster
  2. Fierce Reads poster
  3. Epic Reads Periodic Table poster (I have two of these)
  4. Illuminae Sampler (I considered keeping this one, but I decided not to hoard)
  5. Glittering Court Sampler
  6. Red Queen Sampler
  7. Four Sampler
  8. I LOVE Boys in Books bumper sticker
  9. Captain Underpants button (pin)
  10. Warcross keychain (2)
  11. A Gathering of Shadows button (pin)
  12. The Diabolic magnet
  13. Traitor to the Throne wristband
  14. Reign of Shadows sticker
  15. Books magnet
  16. Adorable Sourcebooks girl shushing button (pin)
  17. Tiny Pretty Things sticker
  18. Ivory and Bone sticker
  19. Bloodmark Trilogy tattoos (the two black ones)
  20. I LOVE Camp tattoos (2)
  21. Crow tattoo (I can’t think of the name of the book this is for)
  22. Press Back tattoo (Kristen Simmons)
  23. Tonight the Streets Are Ours bookmark
  24. Liars Inc. bookmark
  25. Signed Lailah bookmarks (Team Jonah and Team Gabriel)
  26. Ask Again Later bookmark
  27. Meg Cabot bookmark
  28. Dead House wooden bookmark
  29. Signed Defy and Ignite bookmarks
  30. Signed A Mad Wicked Folly bookmarks (2)
  31. I’ll Meet You There bookmark
  32. Simone Elkeles bookmark
  33. Victoria Scott bookmark
  34. Shadow Bound card thingy
  35. Tiger’s Curse card (2)
  36. UnForgotten card
  37. Reboot card
  38. Vanishing Girls card
  39. Dorothy Must Die card
  40. Spirits and Thieves card
  41. City Love card
  42. Get Even card
  43. Something Strange & Deadly card
  44. Sharing You card
  45. Signed Lailah cards (2)
  46. The Orphan Queen card
  47. Stay With Me card
  48. White Hot Kiss Roth photo card
  49. Signed Sleep No More card
  50. Signed Styclar Saga (Lailah) booklet thingy
  51. Ruined card
  52. Empire of Dust card
  53. Pre-order letter from I’ll Meet You There (I somehow ended up with two of these, even though I only pre-ordered the book once. She asked us not to share, but it’s been a long time since this book came out, so I feel like it’s probably fine by now.)

How do you feel about swag? Is there any that you love? Any you hate? Do you want some of mine? I want to know!


This post has been linked up to the 2019 Book Blog Discussion Challenge.


Bookworm pic by Primsy Doodle Designs


101 responses to “Bookworm Confession: Swag Isn’t My Thing. Let’s Discuss. (Plus a Giveaway)

  1. So with you on swag. I don’t care about most of it and I’m not of fan of bringing random “stuff” home that serves no purpose other than just being set on a shelf or in a drawer, never to be looked at again. But you are so right about saying no to an author handing you free swag. LOL Oh my gosh, how can you actually say no? Nope, can’t do it. I can’t risk hurt feelings even if all I’m really trying to do is save their swag from being 86’d. I’ll never turn down a good bookmar, and something like the letter from I’ll Meet You There is positively epic (squeee!), but all the posters and pens and stickers… not for me.

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books recently posted: WWW Wednesday #40 | February 13, 2019
  2. Danielle Hammelef

    I loved Warcross, so #10 for me if it’s still available. I also am picky about swag–my favorites are handmade bookmarks and simple bracelets made by the author. Thanks for the post Nicole!

  3. I’m a mixed variety when it comes to swag as well. I like bookmarks, but I never really use the ones authors give out. I still like collecting them though because it’s fun to see how they change within the author’s writing career.

    Posters are hit or miss, it depends on the author/series and what it looks like if it will be one I want or not. I love the fancier artwork though! Many a time I want to frame the map posters but wall space is a rarity for me! If there’s not a bookcase there, there’s usually already something else in the way!

    I like magnets but those are a rarity, keychains can be cool, but again I rarely get those. I love enamel pins though! I started putting favorite ones on a banner and really I don’t have too many of those as it is! I like buttons but I have an abundance of those. The first collection went on a tote bag I never use for fear of losing them and a smaller set is on another banner!

    Tote bags are one thing I’m not that much of a fan for. They’re cool in general, but in order to have them in mass supply authors usually go with the cheaper variety and I totally get that. But those end up being useless for me as they can’t hold books all that well without some serious tearing going on. I have a few tote bags I use for signings for they are very durable. Tote bags tend to be the things I give away!

    So I’m about 50/50 on swag myself! I have a box of keeper swag in my closet that is pretty full! There are a few “notes” in there as well that I received from authors that I feel too sentimental to get rid of just yet!

  4. YES!!!!
    Posters are a disaster – they never make it home in one piece. Tote bags are cute but I have so many and I’m trying to give them away. HATE the samplers. They are a waste of paper as far as I’m concerned.

    I agree – I like bookmarks and buttons – small, easy to store and fun to look at.

    • Yeah, I got a signed poster from a Neal Shusterman event once—he’s one of my favorite authors so I was excited to get it. But then it sat on my dresser for a long while and eventually ended up getting crumpled. I just didn’t know what to do with it. That was when I realized posters just aren’t for me. 🙂

  5. international reader here so not much swag but I do love them especially bookmarks! 😀 I got a couple of Chapter Samplers and Reading Guides (I think?) and they’re the swags I don’t really like or the least I care about. I’d love to get a tote one of these days though but I highly doubt I’ll ever get one. But I’ll probably end up buying tote merch from my local bookstore one of these days. I also don’t get pins for swags but I do buy bookish pins just to lowkey tell everyone I’m reader.

  6. I relate to almost everything in this post lol. I don’t have much swag since I don’t go to the events or subscribe to book boxes, but I don’t even know what to do with the little swag I do have. But I LOVE character art! Even though I also don’t know what to do with it lol. And I don’t mind bookmarks, even though I never use them. And tote bags are great, but I have so many of them too from various things throughout my life. Pins and stuff are super cute, but I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the pins, keychains, and art I have from a Kickstarter I recently backed!

  7. Another international reader and so I don’t see swag and actually reading your post I can see why you don’t really want most of it. If I really loved an author then a bookmark or something or a button or for sure a tote. But I’d no that at some point I’d be deciding most of it didn’t bring me joy!

  8. Diamond K.

    I think these swags are good. It really interesting to have the items like signed bookplate and bookmark. I never have a book key chain before.My picks are #10,12,13,14,21,23,31,32,41,45,46 and 53 if it is too much ask, I would appreciate it.

  9. Ugh. Swag. Nope, don’t like it either. Just what I need, more stuff lying around my house taking up space. I DO like bookmarks, of course, and I collect Groots. But other than that, no swag for me.

  10. YES! I went to a bunch of writing conferences in college and ended up with a ton of stuff and nowhere to put it. I don’t mind bookmarks, pins, and totes because I can use those, but what am I supposed to do with the other stuff? I feel bad for throwing it away.

  11. shooting

    I’d love #11 – I’m collecting all things Shades of Magic. I like some swag, but yes, most of it I don’t know what to do with and it’s especially bad if it’s a book I haven’t read yet. I don’t tend to hang on to those, but I love collecting things for books/series I love. Those are just often harder to get – so it’s fun when there are pre-order swag or something like that!


  12. Tammy V

    I LOVE Boys in Books bumper sticker
    Captain Underpants button (pin)
    Warcross keychain (2)
    A Gathering of Shadows button (pin)
    The Diabolic magnet
    Traitor to the Throne wristband
    Reign of Shadows sticker
    Books magnet
    Adorable Sourcebooks girl shushing button (pin)
    Tiny Pretty Things sticker
    Ivory and Bone sticker
    Bloodmark Trilogy tattoos (the two black ones)
    I LOVE Camp tattoos (2)
    Crow tattoo (I can’t think of the name of the book this is for)
    Press Back tattoo (Kristen Simmons)
    Tonight the Streets Are Ours bookmark
    Liars Inc. bookmark
    Signed Lailah bookmarks (Team Jonah and Team Gabriel)
    Ask Again Later bookmark
    Meg Cabot bookmark
    Dead House wooden bookmark
    Signed Defy and Ignite bookmarks
    Signed A Mad Wicked Folly bookmarks (2)
    I’ll Meet You There bookmark
    Simone Elkeles bookmark
    Victoria Scott bookmark

    Or anything that is left at the end 😉

  13. I am really bad about swag, I get attracted to all the stuff but like you, I get home and wonder what the heck to do with it all. Some items I love are bookmarks, pens, lip balm, eye glasses wipes, hand warmers are the best! I have so many tote bags I don’t know what to do with them anymore! I don’t read chapter samplers and I don’t display art (unless it is a magnet). I swear this year when I go to events I am going to come home with less than 10 swag from the event!

  14. This is such a timely discussion for me, Nicole, seeing as I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with all my swag. LOL I just weeded through my tote bags (total heresy, I know) but you’re absolutely right in asking “How many tote bags do I need?” Then there is all the other “stuff”. I had been displaying it on empty book shelves but recently I’ve determined I actually *need* that space! So I’ve boxed it up until I can decide what to do with it. I do love bookmarks but one can only have so many before we run out of places to put them! I suppose I could put one in every book on my shelf so one’s there when I grab the book off the shelf eventually. Hmm…. Some items – like stickers or book postcards or something like that – I use to embellish the scrapbook pages I do from the event. But other than that, I just don’t know what to use this stuff for! I don’t dislike swag though. I’m just at a loss as to what to do with it all. Although I do give some away with book giveaways. 🙂
    Great discussion post, my friend!

    p.s. I even googled and pinterest searched for ideas on what to do with swag…all I came up with was ideas for authors on what kind of swag readers like. Sigh……

    Brandee @ (un)Conventional Bookworms recently posted: Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #167 ~ Free
    • I’ve seen some people who put their swag in a binder or photo album, and I’ve thought that sounds like a good idea. Then you can have it at your fingertips to look at it occasionally. I might try to do something like that. But even then I still probably only want to save the stuff that’s either really pretty or for a book/author I love. I still have to go through my “save” drawer and figure out what to do with it. I agree that I do like swag, but it’s hard to find a place for it all!

  15. Amy S.

    Your giveaway idea is a great one, and another idea is to see if your local public library teen services librarian would want your swag to give to teens. I work at a public library and whenever I get swag from conferences I set it out for free for the teens in their space and it always disappears. A lot of our teens love book swag but never get any because they don’t attend author signings or conferences and so on. Just an idea 🙂

  16. I’m not sure which of these are still available, but I’d love to have the YA Retellings Poster, the Periodic Table of Epic Reads poster, a Warcross keychain, Signed Lailah Card and any postcards. Any of these items would be amazing. Thanks so much for sharing!

  17. I’m in the same bag as you- I’m actively trying to have less stuff in my house, especially the little cluttery things, so other than bookmarks (which I mostly collect from the library), I have little need for swag (although a totebag from a book I really loved, I probably wouldn’t turn down, and then I’d be pointing it out to everyone everywhere I went. “HAVE YOU READ THIS? YOU *REALLY* NEED TO.” Maybe it’s better if I don’t, haha. No swag for me; more for those who want it. 🙂

  18. I like some swag, but I prefer receiving bookmarks and inspired beauty miscellany from my favorite book(s) (e.g. scent, cosmetics, nail polish), if I can choose. Tattoos are great if you’re surrounded by kids fascinated with various things, usually the idea of temporary tattoos. I once took advance of 50 free cowboy potato temporary tattoos because of this reason (it was some educational, promotional thing, and I was a nanny at the time).

    So…if you have any of the tattoos or bookmarks left over, I’ll take them off your hands. 😉 Especially the tattoos—lots of kids around, all of whom are utterly fascinated by temporary tattoos.

    Jane recently posted: F*ck the zero-waste movement.
  19. I am not a clutter person and try not to have a lot of “stuff”. Most swag is pointless, and though a tote bag can e useful, I don’t need 20 of them. I love pins and art, but I don’t display it or anything, so it’s sort of pointless. And samplers! I never want to read just part of a book. Hate them!

    Sam@wlabb recently posted: Blog Tour: You Asked for Perfect
  20. Lisa W.

    Lol….this post totally cracked me up. I used to love swag (and in lots of ways I still do), but when I get home, I’m often puzzled by what I was thinking in the moment. I, too, am not a fan of posters or sample chapters. I also am not particularly fond of buttons (again…in the moment they seem great, but then what do I do with them?). Swag boundaries is an area I need to improve in 🙂

  21. I am a borderline hoarder and can never say no to swag but… I feel you. Especially on the posters! Like how the heck is that getting home from anywhere unscathed!??! I do love a magnet though- I put them on the mini-fridge in my room, so it’s like, a shrine to bookstuffs! (And I put all travel-related ones on my normal fridge). I wouldn’t turn down that Diabolic magnet, tbh 😉

    But I think for the most part we agree about what’s useful and what isn’t. I loved the Dry water bottle because A) Related to the book, and B) Useful! I think that’s the key- if I can use it and it doesn’t sit in a box or on a shelf collecting dust, I am in!

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: Reviews in a Minute: More February!
  22. I’m with you, Nicole! I like totebags, actually – I use them for my shopping as it’s better for the climate to use reusable bags 🙂 I have more than enough bookmarks, though – and usually, I actually end up using a receipt rather than an actual bookmark anyway :O
    I also like both notebooks and stickers. The notebooks have to be a certain size, though, if it’s too small, I won’t ever use it, and that’s just sad. And I use stickers to embellish my review journals – so that’s something I’m actually happy with.

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookworms recently posted: Safe and Sexy #48 – The Right Man
    • I do use tote bags for shopping sometimes. My daughter took one to school to carry some stuff in and the librarian stopped her to tell her she loved it. I was like, “I have another one. Tell your librarian she can have it if she wants!” (My daughter thought that was too weird and refused. LOL!)

  23. I am totally on the same page as you! I love pins, character art and bookmarks (and tote bags) but everything else feels sort of…junky? I feel bad saying that but it just feels like clutter to me (and I hate samplers, I’m not going to take the time to read 1-2 chapters when I can’t read the whole book immediately). This is why I’ve neber subscribed to a book box…they’re so expensive and usually when I watch the unboxings there’s only like 1 thing in the box I like and the rest would just feel like clutter!

    Cristina (Girl in the Pages) recently posted: Top 10 Releases on My Radar for 2019 | A Final List!
  24. I love this post and agree with so much of it! I’m not too big on swag, I don’t usually get a lot of it since, being an international blogger, I can’t go to the events where they give up most of the swag. Honestly, the only swag that sometimes makes me happy to receive is bookmarks, because I always love a pretty bookmark, even more when it’s signed by the author, too 🙂 Otherwise, I’m not really a fan of it all either. Loved this post! x

  25. I’m VERY picky about bookish swag! I really like candles, but only if they actually smell nice and burn well. Far too often, they seem to be rushed and just turn out gross. I dig custom bookish posters and things if they are on the smaller side, and are signed and sent to me directly from an author, but I don’t collect bookish posters just for the heck of it. Mugs and socks are usually a hit with me, but only if they look and feel nice.

    Erica Metcalf recently posted: And We’re Up And Running!
    • Oh, yes, I’ve actually gotten both mugs and socks before, and I liked those—they’re actually useful! I found a pair of Carve the Mark shoelaces after I posted this and wished that I’d added that to the post. I think they’re pretty, but I’ll definitely never use them and maybe someone else will. Maybe I’ll add it to a Sunday Post one of these days…

  26. I would be happy to take any bookmark if there are any less! I am not a huge fan of many of the bookish swag you mention. Especially temporary tattoos. I don’t even like normal tattoos >.> I do like tote bags and I do collect bookmarks and also bookish mugs though! And yeah, chapter samplers don’t really do it for me either…

    Olivia-Savannah Roach recently posted: The Familiars [Book Review]
  27. I feel you on this. Swag is not my jam and I honestly would love to get rid of stuff that I have. It’s why I’m on the fence about subscription boxes, I don’t want a lot of the stuff in those boxes and feel bad if throw anything out but I have no room or use for some of it no matter how cool it looks. Plenty of folks go crazy for swag but to me it is just clutter. Even bookmarks… they’re great but I can only use so many at any one time.

    Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity recently posted: Sunday Summary // 17.02.2019
  28. Ha, yes! I arrived at this point last year when I realized I was storing about three file boxes full of swag. I was already tucking bookmarks, postcards, thin magnets etc in with prize books people won at the blog, but that was only getting rid of a pinch of what was in those boxes. Then my friend who runs a used bookstore agreed to take some of it to go with her occasional doorprize packs. I also gave her most of the totes to use as shopping bags. The library took some as well. But, yeah, I tossed a bunch.

    What I did keep and love were a few totes, bookmarks, large clip magnets, and office supplies that will be gratefully used. I’ve not seen character art post cards, but I would totally keep those.
    And, I also broke my own rules for favorite books and authors that I wanted to ‘collect’. 🙂

  29. I’m the same as you. Although, I do love the stickers. Maybe it is the 80s kid in me, but I love sticking them on my blog planner. The rest, well, I just don’t have any room! Normally I’m not a poster fan either, because like you said, they get crushed. But, I’d love to have #1, I have a print out of it from the website, and I use it at my school library all the time. Would love that or #2 if you have either left. Or #8 or #10. I wish I’d have commented as soon as I saw this post now! Don’t know if you have any of those left. Of course as I mentioned, I don’t really need more swag, so it’s probably better if you’ve given it all away!

    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted: Blog Tour Review with Giveaway: The Boyfriend Whisperer 2.0 by Linda Budzinski
  30. I actually LOVE posters! I have one on my wall now. However, I am “picky” about them. HAHA As for other swag, I love buttons and totes. Everything else? MEH. NO stickers, NO bookmarks… I have enough of that stuff

  31. Jen

    I love swag lol. But my favorite is bookmarks, tote bags, chapstick and pens. At the last signing I went to there was some awesome swag I’ve never seen before. KK Allen gave us shot glasses! They are so pretty and it says shot of angst on it lol. Stephanie St Klaire gave us bath bombs, love! And Charleigh Rose gave me a candle that smells amazing and is beyond gorgeous!

  32. WOW!!! HAhaha what a madhouse of a giveaway Nicole, more power to you. I don’t really like sway either unless its Character ART! Love character art… especially cards that can go in an instagram photo. And I love the enamel pins, though I haven’t started to collect them yet. I’m pondering maybe doing so. And bookmarks! I don’t think you can have too many as they go really good in photos. Actually I’d want swag for instagram pics! I think that would be neat. <3

    Dani @ Perspective of a Writer recently posted: Why is the Modern World of Magic so Fun to Read? Think Harry Potter!!
  33. I am only into certain types of swag. I love swag if it related to the book theme or plot line somehow like the Deck of Destiny for the Caraval trilogy or a To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before notebook or pen. I am a big fan of the tote bags though since they are very versatile and I always use tote bags. I am fond of enamel pins and currently have a growing collection of them. I see the pins as wearable pieces of art. Great post you have here.

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