Amazon.com hopes to boost holiday sales this year by offering e-books as gifts. The online retailer Friday added the ability to send digital books as gifts through its Kindle store.
The process is simple: choose the book, click the "Give as a Gift" button, add the recipients' e-mail address and your shopping is complete. Amazon will send an e-mail notifying the person that his gift is waiting to be downloaded.
People can give e-books whether or not the recipient owns one of Amazon.com's popular Kindle e-readers. Gifted e-books can be read on any device with the Kindle application installed. Amazon.com has made the app available for the Apple iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone; Research in Motion's BlackBerry and smartphones based on Google's Android operating system. The app is also available for Macs and Windows PCs.
"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," Russ Grandinetti, VP of Amazon Kindle, said in a statement.
Surprisingly, Amazon.com has not pushed gifted e-books before. However, with Kindle and e-book sales booming, the time couldn't be better. In late October, Amazon.com said the latest generation Kindle, released in June, was the fastest-selling Kindle to date. In addition, the retailer said that unit sales of digital books over the previous 30 days surpassed that of hardcover and paperback books combined for the top 1,000 bestselling books on the site. Among the top 10 books, the electronic editions have been outpacing the physical versions by more than 2 to 1, according to the retailer.
The Association of American Publishers reported that e-book sales grew 193% during the first eight months of the year. Amazon.com says e-book sales on the site have exceeded that rate. Amazon does not release sales numbers for the Kindle or e-books.
Besides trying to leverage booming sales, Amazon's push for selling e-books as gifts comes as rival Kobo, whose namesake e-reader is sold and marketed by bookseller Borders, plans to offer the same capability. A date hasn't been released, but Kobo says e-book giving will be available in time for the holiday shopping season.