Amazon announces kindle e-book gift feature

Faith Merino · November 19, 2010 · Short URL:

Gifting e-books no longer uncool?

The Kindle is Amazon’s most gifted item, and now Web users can give the gift of a Kindle e-book to anyone with an email address, regardless of whether or not they own a Kindle.  Amazon made the announcement Friday morning, adding that the e-books can be read on an iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Blackberry, Android device, or even just a Mac or PC. 

To send a Kindle e-book as a gift, users simply select a Kindle book and click “Give as a Gift,” which allows them to send the book to any recipient with an email address.  The recipient will instantly receive an email notification that he or she has received a Kindle e-book, and the book can then be uploaded onto any Kindle app (which would effectively exclude the Nook).

“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,” said Russ Grandinetti, VP of Amazon Kindle, in the company’s announcement.

The Kindle bookstore currently has over 725,000 titles to choose from, including the editors’ picks for the best books of the year, which includes “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, “Freedom: A Novel” by Jonathan Franzen, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson (why are these Stieg Larsson novels so popular?), “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, and more.

While the e-books will be readable on a number of devices aside from the Kindle, the Kindle nevertheless remains a strong seller.  In October, Amazon boasted of having seen record Kindle sales.  "It's still October and we've already sold more Kindle devices since launch than we did during the entire fourth quarter of last year--astonishing because the fourth quarter is the busiest time of year on Amazon," said senior vice president of Amazon Kindle, Steve Kessel, in the company’s October press release.

The rapid rise in Kindle sales can be attributed exclusively to the drop in Kindle prices from $399 to some $260, and finally $139.  Meanwhile, angry book publishers have put an end to $10 e-books, so e-book prices are now equal to those of print books (sometimes higher).  

But while customers are clearly no longer snapping up Kindles for the promise of cheap e-books, Kindle books have been faring better than other e-books—or so says Amazon, anyway.  The Association of American Publishers recently reported that e-book sales grew by 193% between January and August 2010, and according to Amazon, Kindle books did even better than that—though the company is notoriously reticent to release actual sales figures.


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