Amazon’s missing features for gifting eBooks
04 Monday Nov 2013
Written by J. Abram Barneck in Ebook
No tags :(
So I really only see two ways to gift a kindle copy of your eBook. This post will take a look at these two options.
Method 1 – Send a copy of your mobi file outside Amazon
You can send anyone your book as a mobi file outside of Amazon. There is nothing wrong with this and it is free.
- It is free
- It is easy for the author to send as an attachment
- The recipients may not know how to get the mobi file onto their device (you end up having to show them how which is like a tech support call.)
- The recipient can’t use Amazon features (lending, highlights, syncing furthest read, etc)
- The recipient could give your eBook away or even post it on a pirating site
(I am DRM free anyway, but doesn’t mean I condone pirating.)
- You never know if the file makes it onto the recipients device.
Method 2 – Use the “Give as a gift” feature on Amazon
Or you can try to improve the experience of giving your eBook by sending the book using Amazon’s “Give as a gift” feature.
- The receiver gets a nice professional gift certificate with an image of your cover.
- They CAN use Amazon features (lending, highlights, syncing furthest read, etc)
- The book is easily copied to all their kindle devices and apps
- This experience feels very professional.
- You can look at your order and see whether the recipient claimed their gift or not and if they claimed it, you can almost assume your book is on their Kindle readers.
- Reports: It may show as a sale of your book and increases your rank.
(I haven’t 100% verified this)
- You have to buy your own book.
- You have to run a discount or change your book’s price to buy your own book the cheapest way possible (Change your price to .99 cents as you can’t buy gifts on free promo days, then buy your gift eBooks. As you get .30 cents back, it only costs you .70 cents each.)
- You can only buy and email yourself one gift copy at a time. (If you are doing a blog tour with 10 blogs and 20 give-a-ways and want to buy 30 gift copies, good luck)
Workaround: Create a bunch of email aliases and email the gifts one at a time to your email aliases. This is the fastest method I’ve found.
- Taxes: Amazon is sure to send you a tax statement. I haven’t received mine yet, but I assume it will include my own purchases as income, which in reality they are an expense, so you need your resets to fix this on your taxes.
- Reports: It may show as a sale of your book and your stats are no longer accurate.
Amazon’s limited gifting features
It seems that Amazon is making loads of money from self-published authors and should be investing time into improving features, especially in Kindle Direct Publishing.
As a software developer myself, I have an idea how difficult new features are (or how easy).
I had much higher expectations from Amazon as they have been working with Authors for so long. Perhaps, my expectations were too high.
Expectations too high or not, my basic needs are not easily met.
While I can easily send out copies of my eBook through amazon to anyone’s email address, it becomes difficult if I don’t know the email address. I have email myself the gift code and if I need more than one, I have jump through some serious difficult to hurdle hoops to buy more than one gift code.
Amazon should have a simple web page for Authors where they can simply buy as many gift codes as they need. Then Print or email them at their leisure.
Also, on the reports page, similar to how Amazon’s reports on KDP breaks out free downloads into a separate column, the the reports should track my gifts as gifts by the author, not as sales.
Which to choose?
Well, I think the recipients experience is more important. So I choose method 2 most the time. Unfortunately Amazon make this extremely hard on the author/publisher. But I think the recipients will have a better experience.
If it is a review site that is quite accustomed to receiving mobi files, I may send just the mobi file because that is what they are accustomed to.
Hopefully, Amazon will continue to enhance their feature set for Authors. As of now, KDP is surprisingly, immature.