Saturday, November 20, 2010

Has Christmas Come Too Early For eBooks?

The money appears to be on the ebook, ebook readers and tablets being the Xmas gift this year, so we thought it timely to cast a quick view on what is on offer.

Amazon have announced that you can now give a Kindle ebook to anyone as a gift and neither you nor the receiver of your gift needs to have a Kindle, just an Amazon account for you and an email address for the recipient. The ebooks can be read from Kindle apps on iPhones, iPads, Android and Blackberry phones and both Macs and PCs. You now just select the ebook you want to gift click "Give as a Gift". You will enter the recipient’s email address and optionally, their name and a message and place your order. Amazon will also enable unwanted ebooks to be exchange it for an gift card.

Kobo is releasing also enabling customers to buy e-Readers, eBooks, and accessories and gift them to friends and family. These too are sent via a personalized Kobo Holiday email and delivered on the date they select . You can also to load up a giftcard with a particular numerical value and deliver it electronically.

Waterstones sells ebooks but gifting them appears beyond their capabilities. They do however have a deal on getting the VAT back on a Sony reader. As those in the UK will be aware VAT will increase on January 1st from 17.5% to 20% in the UK so the deal looks attractive until you read the reclaim process which isn’t exactly instant!

Perhaps someone at Barnes and Noble can clarify, but we were unable to easily find how to send an ebook as a gift and stopped at the credit card check, so presume it is not possible today. Their Christmas gifts section fully covered every physical gift but ebooks appears to be outside Santa’s sack. Borders were very similar with ‘gifts for ebook lovers’ restricted to readers and gift cards. Surely an ebook lover will already have a reader and why can’t we give them an ebook? WHSmiths didn’t even mention the word ebooks in their ‘gift, games and toys’ section.

We thought we should look at the publishers who are now wishing to open up a new direct to consumer market. Penguin UK state on their FAQ No 13; ‘At this time, eBooks cannot be sent as gifts. eBook orders can only be sent to the email address on your customer account.’ We gave up on Penguin’s US site which some would suggest certainly wasn’t consumer centric. We tried Rbooks Random House UK’s bookstore and instantly realised what the difference is between retail sites and publisher ones.

There are many other offers in the market place, but it is clear that although the market is starting to respond to ebooks, many ebook resellers have some way to go to get into the gifting into the spirit.

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