Amazon launches book gifting service
As sure as there's a 'X' in 'Christmas'
Amazon has launched a new
moneymaker service: you can now send Kindle books as gifts to anyone with an email address, whether or not they own one of Amazon's lightweight e-readers.
There's now no need to leave your computer for holiday book-buying
The new program allows you to choose e-gifts from among Amazon's 725,000-plus ebooks and fire them off to your chosen giftees, who can then read them on their Kindles, or by using Amazon's free e-reading apps for the Mac, PC, BlackBerry, plus iOS and Android devices — with support for Windows Phone 7 "coming soon".
Should the recipient not appreciate Sarah Palin's subtle literary stylings in Going Rogue — or, for that matter, the collected leftie wisdom in its Bizarro World counterpart, Going Rouge — they can exchange your well-meaning gift for an equal-value Amazon gift card.
Gift-giving for the lazy — no fiddling with wrapping paper or ribbon required — and another blow to your neighborhood bookseller. ®
Amazon creates a service that FINALLY enables people to gift Kindlebooks, and The Register posts a negative article about it. Why?
Of course they are trying to make money. They are a business, and that is what businesses do. Did you expect them to create a service to lose money?
This has the potential to give a huge boost to the e-book industry. Yes, the neighborhood bookstores will suffer, but lamenting their fate is like complaining that the MP3 put all of the record stores out of business, or weaping over the loss of rickshaws in other parts of the world with the spread of the automobile. Changes happen. And, this one is not even a sudden one.
The publishing industry and booksellers have known this day would be coming for several decades. They have had opportunities to embrace it. Some have, and some haven't. Why is Amazon getting blamed by The Register for the plight of booksellers, especially when (by many accounts) Amazon is actually making reading more popular?
Fortunately for booksellers, there are problems with Amazon's business model (you don't actually own the books--no resale, reselling, or regifting), and I think people will not be as quick to turn away from traditional books as they might have been. There is still some time left for booksellers to adapt. But, are the booksellers or moneymaking the interesting issues?
I think the author needs to give this another think. Personally, I consider it pretty incredible that we can now send gifts, not just gift certificates, by email. Is this the first time this has happened? I would call that pretty revolutionary and worthy of a bit more positive coverage.
Here in the civilised world, we give things at Christmas, not "gift" things.
In the USA, when you receive the email about a gifted ebook, you get a download link to the Amazon Kindle store and the book. You can download it there for your desired device or exchange the gift book for an Amazon gift card.
How is this bad?
I'm planning to ask all my in-laws for kindle books this Xmas. I love having friends choose books for me: it's a very personal gift, and I end up with more varied reading than if I chose them all myself.
With the new Amazon feature, I get the all the advantages of e-books (not the least important being that my spare room doesn't get filled with yet more books that I probably won't re-read, but don't want to throw away). As an extra bonus they are usually a bit cheaper than physical books, so it's better for my relatives too.
As for the neighbourhood bookstores, I don't think this really changes anything since they would probably have bought the physical books on Amazon anyway.
"...and another blow to your neighborhood bookseller."
Really? I personally still prefer my local bookseller to Amazon for numerous reasons, and this certainly won't change my mind.
But even if it did, so what? Nobody's forcing neighborhood booksellers to remain as they are; nothing's stopping them from competing with Amazon online. So Amazon is offering another service, one which on the face of it will attract technophiles and the inconsiderate. Big deal.
This would be a non-story if it weren't for your bizarrely negative angle on it.