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I heard of the idea, which would be great for those who already have most everything they need.
Have a shower where everyone brings there favorite book from their childhood with an inscription in the front for the new baby. I think this would also be great for a work shower where the co-workers feel obligated to buy a gift, but maybe don't want to shell out the cash.
However, I tried to do something similiar for DS's 1st Birthday (the kids of tons of clothes and toys, but I feel kids can never have too many books). So, on the back of his party invitation, I put a little note that asked for the guests favorite book from his/her childhood or one that the parent currently enjoys to read to his/her child. Everyone brought books but it was obvious that they just brought random books (most of them published in the last couple of years so obviously guests did not read them in their childhood). And, I could see no way as to why they would be considered their children's favorite either. At least, the DS got some new books though!
When it comes to baby showers, people just love to shop for little outfits, stuffed animals, baby blankets, and the like - no matter if the mom-to-be needs them or not.
I have also seen where with a cute little poem invititations that ask guests to bring a book instead of a baby shower greeting card.