The president whipped out his BlackBerry to check his shopping list and told One More Page Books proprietor Eileen McGervey: "Preparation. That's how I shop."
The White House said Obama purchased 15 children's books he intends to give family members for Christmas. The book titles were not revealed.
The president's outing with Sasha and Malia took less than an hour, including time spent shaking hands with several store employees and several other people who gathered outside and the round-trip motorcade ride.
Asked by a reporter about the fiscal cliff facing the nation, Obama responded, "We're doing Christmas shopping. Happy Thanksgiving, folks."