I've seen a few writer friends on Facebook recently promoting their own books as potential Christmas presents. This makes me feel uneasy, though I'm not really sure why. It's quite likely that some of these books would indeed make very good Christmas presents, and are probably very good books, and I wouldn't have thought of buying them otherwise. So why not? But I won't be buying any of them, nor will I be plugging my own books at Christmas.
People use Facebook in different ways, of course. And I don't mean people plugging their books on their professional Facebook pages - that's what those pages are for - but on their personal profiles, the pages for their friends and family. I have unfriended people in the past for using our 'friendship' as a means to try to sell me things (not books). It's not the occasional 'I have a new book out' - that's fine, it's news, it's an event to share with friends. It's the hardsell or the advertising with no news hook I don't like.
I have lots and lots of friends who are writers. I can't possibly read all their books and I certainly can't buy all their books. Perhaps that's the problem. If I didn't know lots of writers and weren't a writer myself, I might think 'Oh yes, I can buy X's book for Y for Christmas!' and get a buzz out of knowing the author. So maybe I'm just not approaching it in the right way.
Do you - or would you - use your personal Facebook profile to try to sell your books to your friends in a bit of blatant, shameless advertising? If so, please tell me off. But while doing so, please tell me how it's different from a friend who is - say - a plumber advertising his plumbing skills to me, or a friend who is a lawyer trying to get me to use his legal services on the back of our online/real friendship. Or perhaps it isn't different and you think it's OK. Isn't flagrant commercialism what LinkedIn is for, not Facebook? If I met a friend in the street and (s)he said 'why don't you buy my book? it makes a great Christmas present,' would that be OK? I don't think it would. Or am I just being an old fogey?