Amazon announced that it will (finally) allow customers to give Kindle books as gifts. Books are popular gift items, and not being able to give a Kindle version as a gift has weighed down the success of the Kindle format.
"We are thrilled to make it easier than ever for our customers to give their favorite Kindle book to a friend or family member as a gift," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. "We're making this functionality available in time for the holidays to offer an easy, stress free holiday shopping option for anyone--not just Kindle owners."
Now, with a simple click of the "Give as a Gift" button, that Kindle book can be sent as a gift to anyone with an e-mail address regardless of whether they own a Kindle or not. Here are a few of the reasons that giving Kindle books as gifts is the greatest thing to happen to books since....well, since the Kindle.
1. No Kindle required. As mentioned above, the recipient doesn't actually have to own a Kindle e-reader. While the Kindle e-book format is proprietary, Amazon offers virtually ubiquitous cross-platform tools for reading Kindle books. There are free apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Windows, and Mac OS X. Suffice it to say that anyone should be able to read a Kindle book received as a gift.
2. The books are often cheaper. Let's say I wanted to give someone a copy of George Bush's book Decision Points. The hardcover version is $18.77, but the Kindle edition is only $9.99. Stephen Hawking's The Grand Design is $13.99 for the hardcover, but only $9.74 for the Kindle edition.
3. Time is of the essence. Delivering a digital book as a gift can be done in a matter of seconds. No running to the store to buy it. No going to the post office to ship it. No time to transport it from Point A to Point B and deliver it. Even if you forgot until this morning that it is your brother's birthday, a few mouse clicks and nobody has to know.
4. No shipping. Aside from the Kindle books generally being cheaper than their hardcopy counterparts, and the fact that the book can be delivered instantly, sending a Kindle book as a gift also avoids paying any shipping fees.
5. Exchange for anything on Amazon. But, what if the recipient already has the book you send as a gift, or they'd rather remove their toenails with a claw hammer than read a single paragraph of Glenn Beck's latest drivel? Good news! Kindle books given as gifts can be exchanged for Amazon gift cards of equivalent value. So--if the gift is not appreciated, the recipient can get virtually anything in the world by shopping on Amazon.
There are many other reasons to love Kindle books (or other electronic books for that matter). I appreciate having my book remember what page I am on even if I switch from my Windows PC, to my iPhone, to my iPad, and back to the actual Kindle. I also appreciate that Amazon now lets me lend out titles to others.
Managers looking for gift ideas to reward excellent performance, or to honor employee anniversary dates or birthdays now have a new option available. Give a gift of digital literature this holiday season.