Virtual eBooks Now A Gift-Giving Option

Dennis Faas's picture

Electronic reading devices (or E-Readers) such as Amazon's Kindle are not just best-sellers, but also the most-requested items on automated online shopping wish-lists.

However, until now it's not been possible to buy electronic books as a gift. Instead, users could only pay for gift vouchers. That's changed with two leading companies offering gifting options for eBooks.

The first to launch the feature was Kobo, a Canadian company that originally started as an electronic books retail website, but later launched its own portable reading devices, stocked in stores such as Borders and Indigo / Chapters.

No Special Device Needed

The new feature, which officially launched this week, allows users to buy an ebook for anyone with an email address. The recipient doesn't have to own a Kobo device or a Kindle, and can instead download the book and, by installing a free application, read it on a computer, smartphone or certain portable devices such as an iPad.

Buyers can arrange the gift at any time but set the notification email to arrive on a particular date, such as Christmas. There is one major difference between traditional book gift buying and the Kobo feature, though: the buyer can't access the title before the recipient "takes possession."

Amazon Announces Similar Plan to Kobo eBook Gifts

The good news for Kobo was that it was able to claim a world exclusive for the service. In comparison, Amazon allowed users to add books to wish lists, but didn't allow anyone to then buy the titles as a gift. The bad news for Kobo is that this exclusive only lasted a couple of days. Amazon has now launched a gifting service that works almost identically to that from Kobo. (Source:

No Option to Lend eBooks

Although Amazon has introduced the gift option, it's not yet followed through on a promise to allow users to "lend" their electronic books. That remains an exclusive feature of Barnes & Noble, where users of the Nook device can lend titles to one another. There's only one loan allowed for each title, and it last for up to 14 days, during which time the original buyer is unable to access the book on their device.

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