One of the big bright spots of digital books this year was the massive role libraries have played. The ALA in conjunction with Overdrive has been relentless in their pursuits to convince major publishers that books were not devalued when loaned out for free. Their efforts have brought on the big 5 publishing companies in either pilot projects or nationwide rollouts. This has set a new record as six different libraries have each loaned out over a million books.
The King County Library in Washington loaned out the most books this year with a total number of 1.6 million books, which was a 25% increase from 2012. The market leader in Canada was the Toronto Public library that loaned out 1.5 million, which was a 68% increase from last year. New York, Hennepin County, Cleland Public and Seattle Public all loaned out between 1.1 and 1 million eBooks each.
Part of Toronto Public Library's marketing strategy this year included advertisements in subway and bus stations as well as using their OverDrive Media Station as a demonstration tool in local malls. OverDrive Media Station is a touchscreen kiosk that displays the library's digital catalog, where users can browse, sample, place holds and send titles to their device of choice.
"We're thrilled that we've made the Million Checkouts Club this year and we're adding more content daily," said Jane Pype, Toronto's City Librarian. "We expect interest to grow even more in the years to come, particularly since more publishers have made their titles available, and it’s our hope that this trend will continue. We're looking forward to seeing what next year brings for our readers of eBooks at Toronto Public Library."
The one commonality factor that all of these libraries have in common is their relationship with Overdrive. They are the current market leader in audiobooks, eBooks and video content. They have set the standard in digital distribution, not only in the US, but Canada, Ireland, UK, and Australia. One huge growth area is China, which they formed a tentative partnership with and have promised entry into that market in mid-2014.
6 Libraries Loan Out 1 Million eBooks Each in 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News
Monday, December 23, 2013
New Comic Day comes a day early this week and next: Because Christmas and New Year’s Day are on Wednesdays, when most comics shops will be closed, the new comics will arrive on Tuesday. That means new digital comics will be available on Tuesdays as well.
The pickings are pretty slim this week, thanks to Christmas, but what there is, is choice. Let’s take a look at the likeliest prospects.
Avengers #24.NOW: This confusingly numbered comic is also Avengers #1 in the exuberantly named All-New Marvel NOW! chronology. What that means is it’s a starting point for new readers, as a new story kicks off in this issue—in this case, a rogue planet is on a collision course toward the Earth, and it’s up to the Avengers to stop it. The writer is Jonathan Hickman, who wrote Infinity and a couple of runs of Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Avengers comics for Marvel, as well as The Manhattan Projects, a critically acclaimed series for Image Comics. Esad Ribic, who teamed up with him on Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates, will be the artist.
Origin II #1: Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Adam Kubert return to the origin story of Wolverine, the first Avenger. This series is a follow-up to the 2001 series Wolverine: Origin, and it picks up Logan’s story at the end of that series, at the beginning of the 20th century, at a time when he has left civilization and is living with a pack of wolves. Gillen explains what happens next in this interview on the Marvel site, and it sounds like an intriguing story.
Adventures of Superman #35: DC doesn’t have a lot going on with its main lines, so this is a good week to check out their digital-first comics. This issue is part 2 of a three-part mini-series, “The Demolisher,” but at 99 cents an issue, catching up won’t break the bank.
Robotech/Voltron #1: It’s a crossover between two of the great anime franchises of the 1980s: Robotech, a story about three generations of scavenger soldiers who found and repurposed alien technology to fight more aliens, and Voltron, the story of the five Lions who unite to become the single robot Voltron. Published by Dynamite Entertainment, this five-issue mini-series is just the beginning: Dynamite has been publishing Voltron comics for two years, and at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego they announced they will publish a new line of Robotech comics as well. Tommy Yune, who is best known for his work on Speed Racer, is the lead creator on the crossover. If you’re curious, there’s a preview here.
Deceivers #1: This new series, written by Steven Grant of 2 Guns fame, promises a lot: It’s billed as a “globetrotting espionage action/comedy populated by charming, clever characters and thrilling sleight of hand.” The story follows two charming American con men who are doing pretty well in Europe until someone else gets in on the game—and they join up with the CIA to go after him. 2 Guns, which was made into a movie this year, was fun and full of action, and Deceivers looks like it will be in the same mold.
Welcome to a star studded cast edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show. Today Mercy Pilkington, Jeremy Greenfield and Michael Kozlowski from Good e-Reader and Digital Book World give you predictions for 2014. We talk about the current state of affairs in digital publishing, eBooks, e-Paper, e-Readers, Tablets, Library lending and major bookstores.
Jeremy Greenfield who runs Digital Book World talks about his Top 10 Bold Predictions of 2014. He talks about the decline of Barnes and Noble and the prospect of Amazon opening up a retail store. He also talks about the illustrated book business is on the decline and eBook subscription services like Oyster and Scribd entering a boom period.
Mercy Pilkington offers her top 5 predictions of 2014 with a heavy emphasis on self-published authors and how they can expect the landscape to change. She speaks about the rise in self-publishing and how Smashwords is making indie titles more accessible to libraries, eBook subscription sites and Overdrive. She also talks about the changing roles as agents for authors and its challenges. One of the most interesting points is the lack of synergy between Nook Press and the Barnes and Noble retail chain. Their one big competitive advantage of running a physical and virtual bookstore is not being even thought about.
Finally, Michael Kozlowski, Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader talks about the declines facing the tablet, e-reader, e-paper and digital publishing industry. The manufacturing of tablet screens will be down almost 30% for tablets in 2014 and e-reader screens will likely follow suit. This will prompt companies like E INK to diversify even further away from e-readers and focus on digital signage and wearable tech. eBooks have evened out and some months even declined from 2012-2011 statistics. Finally, Sony and B&N will both stop making E INK Readers and focus only on tablets.
This is one of our best shows! Very unique opinions from the top bloggers and media writers of our day! If you are into the world of eBooks, digital publishing or the process of e-reading, you don’t want to miss this one.
Rumors of Apple working on a bigger iPad variant have been doing the rounds for quite some time now. However, there seems something substantive on this front taking place with new reports pointing out a 12.9 inch sized iPad could be ready by October 2014. Along with this, Digitimes is also claiming the said iPad variant will go on to replace the 11 inch MacBook Pro. To what extent the last bit makes sense is debatable considering a small sized ultrabook caters for a completely different segment than a device that is purely tablet in its execution and functionality while also being entirely dependent on touch based input even if it offers a bigger display.
The Digitimes report also has mention of the big-screened iPad that is being put together by Quanta Computers to be aimed primarily at the educational segment in North America. However, usage of the said device in the enterprise segment can't be ruled out either and this could be a tacit ploy on part of Apple to break into a segment that is traditionally dominated by Microsoft. Also, with Microsoft finding the going a bit tough with its latest Windows version, this also makes it just the right moment to have bigger screened version of the best-selling iPad ready for the enterprise segment as well.
Meanwhile, its not the iPad alone that would be seen growing bigger to make it appeal to newer emerging segment as the same also seems to be applicable to the iPhone as well. A bigger iPhone variant that was also rumored to be under development could be ready by May 2014. This would allow Apple to field a competitor in the rapidly emerging phablet segment, which for a change will make the California company playing second fiddle to its arch rival Samsung. The latter's Galaxy Note 3 is ruling the roost in this segment, with sales averaging at 5 million devices a month. Apple is also reported to have landed up a deal with TSMC for supplying the chips based on 20nm processor manufacturing technique to power the bigger iPhone variants.
However, with the launch dates for the bigger versions of both the iPad and iPhone quite some months away, it won't be surprising to see plenty more rumors and speculations to crop up in between. Meanwhile, Samsung too is rumored to be testing bigger screened versions of its Galaxy Tab range, one that comes with 12 – 13 inch display.
Next Issue has been stepping up their game lately, running television commercials and hyping up their digital magazine subscription service. The company is heavily competing with Zinio and Magzter by offering unlimited magazines at a low monthly price. Today, Next Issue has announced official apps on the Amazon App Store that have been customized for the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and HDX 8.9.
Next Issue continues to offer its subscription service for only $9.99/month for unlimited basic (all monthly titles) and $14.99/month for unlimited premium (all monthly and weekly titles). For a complete list of magazines available through this subscription, click here.
Only customers living in the USA will be able to take advantage of this new app, or to sign up with Next Issue. Canadian customers have to use a different portal and recently Rogers media contributed a bunch of their own titles to the platform.
In the fast changing world of technology where manufacturers are ever on the lookout for newer segment to engage with the consumer, phablets or big screen smartphones seem to have emerged as a surprise hit. Often being the butt of many a joke during the initial days, phablets have not only grown in size and scope but have also started posing a serious challenge to the entry level tablet segment comprising of 7 inch devices. Analytic O'Donnell who has over 14 years of experience tracking the tech segment too is backing the above trend with some hardcore figures, claiming sale of phablets could peak to a healthy 175 million in 2014, outstripping that of small tablets by about 10 million.
The above trend is understandable considering the biggest out there, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra offers a 6.4 inch display, quite humongous by smartphone standards following by the equally expansive HTC One Max coming in with a 6 inch display. The HTC One Max is also unique in it being the only other device apart from the Apple iPhone 5s to come with an integrated fingerprint sensor. These clearly are a few notches below than the smallest tablet currently on sale. Nokia is the newest entrant in this segment with its Lumia 1020 that is another one to offer a 6 inch display. However, it is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with its 5.7 inch display that is the most sought after device in this segment. These are small enough to be still included in your pockets while offering almost the same functionality as a full fledged tablet.
Technically, any device with a display greater than 5 inches is considered to be a phablet, a term coined to denote a device that's bigger than a smartphone while still being smaller than the smallest tablet that usually is no bigger than 7 inches when measured diagonally. However, phablets even with smaller dimensions offers better functionality than tablet devices in being more portable while still offering almost the same or even better functionality than tablet devices. Better Bluetooth tech has also saved users from the ignominy of holding up a big slab of a device up to the ear for communicating.
However, strange as it might seem, phablets are still far from being in vogue in the US considered the biggest tablet market in the world. Instead, phablet devices have grown in popularity in Europe, Asia and Latin American countries. Particular mention must be made of South Korea where phablets account for two third of all smartphone sales. Maybe the trend could change once Apple too joins the scene with a bigger screen version of the iPhone, something that is being speculated for quite some time now. A juicy proposition it sure will be, considering another Samsung vs Apple duel to be witnessed that currently is limited to the smartphone and tablet segments.
Phablets Projected to Outsell Small Tablets in 2014 is a post from: E-Reader News
Online retailer Rakuten have joined forces with a dozen other companies in Japan with the aim to sell ebooks from regular brick and mortar bookstores across the country. With this, they hope to bring about a higher degree of awareness among consumers in Japan about ebooks. Such a move, they believe, will also allow the traditional bookstores to remain relevant at a time when consumers around the world have taken to online means for purchasing books.
Also, coming as it does at a time when Amazon has gone on to dominate almost every major ebook market in the world including Japan, the combined efforts of the 13 companies is also expected to pose a worthwhile challenge to the dominance of Amazon. Rakuten no doubt will be particularly keen on this as it surely won't like to see Amazon calling all the shots in its own backyard even after having enhanced it scope several times over with the acquisition of Kobo.
However, its not until the spring of 2014 that the above plan is expected to start bearing fruits.
13 Japanese Companies Band Together to Challenge Amazon is a post from: E-Reader News
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 for Kids and the XO Tablet
Around this time last year, I reviewed the then current crop of tablets geared for kids. The offerings were some fairly sturdy little devices meant for little grubby hands to poke around and play games on devices that offered a range of parental controls. Many of those devices have been improved upon since then, and we are starting to see a new crop of tablets being marketed to the young'uns. This year, I am revisiting the kid's tablets to take a look at the new batch.
First off, let's take a look at the XO Tablet. This offering comes to us from the great minds behind One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), an organization devoted to bringing technology to kids in developing nations to help accelerate education. The XO Tablet is their current commercial offering, available publicly, in contrast to the laptops that are donated to children and schools.
The XO Tablet is a full Android tablet, loaded with 1.6 Ghz processing power, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage (expandable with MicroSD), a camera in the front (1.3 MP) and rear (2.0 MP), capable of 720p HD video, and a 7 inch screen, all running Android 4.1 via a custom home screen for the kids. The $150 price tag is nice, too.
About that custom home screen – this is the child's gateway to a parentally controlled tablet experience. The home screen defaults to what XO is calling the “Dreams” layout, where a child selects from different occupational descriptions (Artist, Scientist, Athlete, etc), and is offered a link to an important figure from the history of the occupation as well as a selection of apps related to the subject.
If the child doesn't want to filter apps based on occupation, having free-form access to apps curated by XO for use in kid mode, they can tap the “My Applications” button and search for the apps they want to use. The parent has the option to allow Play Store access, which will allow apps to be installed; however, from my testing, I was only able to get games added to the kid's mode and not OverDrive Media Console, which remains accessible only in parent mode (something that XO is aware of and investigating).
Kid's mode tracks what the child does while the tablet is in use, with stats accessible via the XO Usage app available in Android mode. The Usage app offers a percentage of how much time was spent under each Dream category with a breakdown of how much time was spent by day of the week. The emphasis here is tilted toward educational use, keeping with the OLPC's ethic. Internet access is an “all or none” affair, where parents can either allow or disallow access to the browser, rather than provide a list of acceptable websites the child may visit. Also missing is a feature to limit the amount of time spent on the tablet – which would be useful for parents trying to aggressively manage their child's screen time.
Visually, the screen is not as crisp and clear as with a higher-end grown-up's tablet, which may lead to constant cleaning if the hands touching the tablet tend to be sticky fingered or grimy (as is often the case with my own kids). As far as the touch sensitivity, the screen works well, with very little instances of having to tap a single icon more than once. The bumper case tends to rob the power and volume buttons of some of their responsiveness, but features a cool loop I could easily imagine being designed for a karabiner clip, or simply for hooking a small finger through for easy transport. Overall, it's a fairly solid tablet for kids who enjoy edutainment, and some light gaming.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 for Kids
Samsung has introduced the Galaxy Tab 3 for Kids – a standard Galaxy Tab 3, in bright yellow, with an operating system tweak to make it easier for small hands to navigate safely. The specs are the same as the "grown-up" Galaxy Tab – 1.6 Ghz processing power, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage (expandable with MicroSD up to 32 GB), Cameras in the front (1.3 MP) and rear (3.0 MP), 1080p HD video playback, and a 7-inch screen at 1024×600 resolution. Also available are different bumper case options. One is a small orange skin (included) that protects the back and sides, while the other comes with a handle and stylus. The tablet itself sells for a more expensive $230.
Kid's mode is colorful, populated with cartoon animals, and the home screen is locked in landscape mode. Apps are navigated by sliding through a selection of cards representing the apps. The emphasis is on fun! The tablet is preloaded with a lot of games encouraging children to play. That said, the tablet also offers its fair share of educational software as well. My favorite example is the pair of "Invention" apps, where you are given a scenario where you have to build something to achieve a goal using only the parts provided – it's a fun little game that will likely trick a child into learning.
The parental controls on the Galaxy Tab for kids are a little more robust than the XO tablet, and a bit easier to navigate. Still missing is the ability to create a list of acceptable sites for the child to visit; but, you do get the option to set a timer for how long a child can spend time on the tablet before they get locked out.
Adding apps to kid's mode is a bit simpler on the Galaxy, as you don't have to step through a couple of menus to get to where you can add a new app card to the home screen or allow access from the list. I used the process to create a “card” for OMC on the kid's mode home screen. Samsung also did not include a mode to track which apps the child is using frequently, though with the emphasis on fun present in the Galaxy Tab for Kids it seems like such a feature would be out of place.
The tablet is very responsive, as you would expect from the Samsung Galaxy line. The only major slowdown was the transition from Android mode to Kid's mode, where the regular bare-bones style of the Android interface is replaced by the skinned, dynamic desktop of the kid's mode. However, once loaded, Kid's mode responds just as fast and smoothly as the standard Android mode.
After spending time with both devices, it seems like a close race between the two. As a parent, I want a good balance of function and durability, while kids just want to have a fancy new toy. Specs-wise, these devises are pretty comparable – offering about the same computing power, memory, storage space, HD capability, etc. For me, it comes down to which one allows me to manage my child's experience most efficiently. In this case, I'm going to side with the Samsung device because I find the emphasis on fun as well as easier to use parental controls worth the $80 price difference.
Justin Noszek is a Support Services Specialist at OverDrive.
One of the goals we’ve been working towards with our friends at Collabora over the last few months is the provision of an up-to-date, HTML5-capable web browser for the Pi. In particular, we aim to support:
The plan is to provide a port of the confusingly-named Web web browser (formerly Epiphany) in future Raspbian releases. Now, just in time for Christmas, we have a very early beta for you to play with.
Most of the work that has been done so far, over and above porting Web to Raspbian, revolves around memory footprint optimizations to support a usable number of tabs on the 512MB device without swapping. We haven’t finished the various acceleration tasks yet, so you’ll have to wait until the New Year to see a version which uses OpenMAX pipelines for media decode and has additional Pixman and Cairo assembly language fastpaths.
If you’d like to have a play with the browser in its current state, you’ll need to add the following line:
to /etc/apt/sources.list, and then type:
Start the browser from the applications menu, "Internet", "Web". If you are feeling particularly adventurous, our new kernel supports cgroups which the browser can use to receive notification of impending out of memory (OOM) events, allowing it to preemptively deallocate resources. To enable cgroups, add the following to your kernel command line:
As evidenced by our many device reviews, the holiday season brings out a new crop of eReaders, tablets, computers, and MP3 players to provide a large assortment of options for buyers. Much like at the North Pole, the elves here at OverDrive have been busy testing devices to see how well they work with eBooks, audiobooks, music, and streaming video. We try to post as many compatible devices in the Device Resource Center as we can, but sometimes the wide variety of devices can get pretty overwhelming. As much as we may want to, we can't test them all.
Open-source operating systems like Android can be used by any manufacturer, so you'll see it on big brand-name devices like the Google Nexus and Samsung Galaxy as well as on devices made by lesser-known brands. The lower prices of these off-brand Android devices may entice more budget-conscious buyers. While the lower prices may be tempting, be warned that some off-brand devices may not have access to major app stores like Google Play, causing undue frustration to users attempting to install their favorite apps. Although OverDrive Media Console for Android can be installed directly from the website, it's much easier to install from Google Play, the Amazon Appstore, or NOOK App Store.
Despite potential drawbacks, there's a lot to be said for less expensive devices. With the market being flooded this year with lots of cheap tablets, you may see these or others showing up after the holidays. Here is a sampling of three budget 7-inch tablets that have access to Google Play and work well for the price, even if it's true that "you get what you pay for!"
Digital2 7-inch Pad Deluxe
This tablet has an impressive amount of features for the low price of $75. It comes with a 0.3 megapixel front camera and 2.0 megapixel camcorder—a far cry from the quality of Apple's cameras, for example, but at least they are included. Although storage capacity is just 4 GB, the device includes a Micro SD card slot to expand storage up to 32 GB. The Digital2 7-inch Pad Deluxe only has 512 MB of RAM, however, so apps open noticeably slower than in more expensive tablets.
We found that the touchscreen isn't always responsive, sometimes taking several tries to open an app or flip through the pages of an eBook. When tilting the screen even slightly, the screen appears faded, making it difficult to read eBooks comfortably.
In addition to the power button on the side of the device, there is also a mysterious tiny circular button that doesn't appear to do anything when pressed. It doesn't appear in the owner's manual; it's just sort of there. One colleague theorized it may be a reset button, but the reset button is a small hole next to the micro USB port. It's possible that it is an "eject" button for a MicroSD card, but we didn't have one here to test it with. Even this was questionable, as MicroSD card slots don't usually have eject buttons— especially not ones relatively far away from the slot itself. Noticeably absent are physical volume buttons, so any volume adjustments need to be done via the touchscreen, which can get clumsy when listening to audiobooks.
Ematic Genesis Prime
Coming in at a slightly higher price of $80 is the Ematic Genesis Prime. Holding this Android 4.1 device itself is reminiscent of the Kindle Fire 1st generation tablet—it's smooth, a little on the heavier side compared to newer devices, but feels sturdy. The only physical button on the device is a power button, so like Digital2's tablet, any volume adjustments need to be done on the touchscreen itself.
The box boasts of an "HD video player – supports up to 1080p," but since the screen itself only has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, that's sort of misleading. The screen here also fades when the device is tilted, so reading eBooks on this device could be tricky. Opening eBooks and audiobooks with only 512 MB RAM felt a bit sluggish. The rest of the tablet's specs are also very comparable to Digital2's offering above. The device comes with 4GB of memory, which is expandable via a microSD card slot. No mystery buttons to be had here, however!
Ematic 7-inch HD Quad Core
For the slightly higher price of $80-90, this device has the most impressive-sounding name out of the three tablets here, but anyone expecting a tablet on the level of Amazon's Kindle Fire HD (and similar HD devices) may be disappointed. With a resolution of 1024 x 600 and an HDMI-out port, the device may technically be "HD," but it also suffers from the "glare on a tilted screen" problem (though to a lesser extent), in addition to having only 169 ppi. It does expand the storage capacity to 8 GB, doubles RAM to 1GB, and successfully runs Android 4.2, so it feels speedier than the other two tablets.
Strangely, the screen does not lie flush with the sides of the device, leaving somewhat of a sharp edge all around. Again, there are no volume buttons, but interestingly, it has a physical "Back" button, unlike most Android devices that just have the software button to return to the previous screen. However, the "Back" button is the same size and shape as the power button and is located on the top center of the device, so it was not an intuitive place for my finger to go. I mainly used the software "Back" button anyway.
The oddest thing about this device is how strange it smelled coming out of the box (which is probably the first time that's been written about in a device review here!) Ematic's Genesis Prime did not have this problem. None of us here could pinpoint why that was—tablets aren't supposed to smell like anything! (Even Apple, a software company that could potentially market its devices with a pleasant, fruity scratch-n-sniff, chooses not to do so).
The expression "you get what you pay for" rings true for many things, but especially devices. Although budget tablets may not be optimal for eBook reading or streaming video, OverDrive Media Console does work on the ones mentioned here. In conclusion, the blurrier screens, lower performance, and occasionally confusing owner's manuals may not be so good for Grandma, but cheaper devices may be fine for rambunctious kids who just want to read eBooks or play (slower) games, as well as for users who just want a simple tablet for access to library titles through OverDrive.
Whatever your personal reading preference may be, I think everyone can agree that 2013 was a great year for books. Let's take a moment to reflect on the past year's most influential, prominent and beloved titles before we celebrate and start reading in 2014.
Based on various statistics including downloads, sales, holds, samples, ratings and page views, here are the lists for OverDrive's Best Books of 2013.
Top Juvenile and YA
Our staff librarians also scoured the major review sources in search of the best titles of the year. We compiled them all in one, easy location in Marketplace so your last minute Holiday shopping can be a breeze! When you click the links below, these carts will show up as a Marketplace search result and you'll be able to easily add them to a cart.
Adults (based on the best of the year lists from: Kirkus, Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Goodreads, Amazon, Library Reads, O Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, NPR)
Kids (based on best of the year lists from Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Horn Book, Amazon)
Be sure to stock up on these titles before the big Holiday rush! Over the next few weeks, your library is going to see a large boost in new patron registrations, circulations and website activity. Below are a couple critical pointers on how best to tackle this influx of new users.
Don't let patrons get turned away! The experience a patron has on their first visit to the site will make or break them as an eBook user, so you want to ensure the titles they are looking for are in the collection and available.
Attack the Holds List before it gets out of control! We strongly recommend you place an additional holds order on or before Monday December 23rd. This will ensure plenty of books are available by Wednesday and Thursday of that week, typically our largest circulation days. In the past, libraries have purchased one copy of each title on hold, filled ALL holds on ALL titles, or even filled the holds on certain top titles. These are gifts you can give your patrons, and we suggest you tell them what you've done!
As always, your Collection Development Specialist is available to help create recommended lists. Email email@example.com for more information today!
*Some titles are metered access and may have limited regional or platform availability. Check OverDrive Marketplace to find what is available for you.
Rachel Somerville is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive.
Digital Books first started getting into the gifting game back in 2010. Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Sony all often the ability to gift digital books in some very different ways. In some cases you have to buy a digital/tangible gift card and use the code during checkout and others allow you to send the book directly to be redeemed via an email address. Christmas is right around the corner, and it is time to look at each major online bookstore and what you have to do to gift an eBook.
In 2010 Amazon developed an online gifting platform in order to people to buy their friends or family Kindle eBooks. The success has been massive and is very intuitive to use for your average person.
Gifting a Kindle Book is quite easy. All you have to do is browse the website for the Kindle edition you wish to purchase. Underneath the “Buy Now with 1 Click” button is an option in orange that says “Give as Gift.” You click on that option and you enter your billing/user details and then enter your friends email address. There is a date system, so you can have it sent over on a specific date. You can also elect to email yourself the book and use the code in a proper card or personalized message.
Apple just got into gifting eBooks directly with the iBookstore a week ago. The company has been late to the game in offering an easy solution to purchase eBooks for everyone on your nice list.
Just choose the book you’d like to gift, then tap either the dropdown arrow next to the price (on a Mac) or the Share button (on an iOS device). On a Mac, select "Gift This Book"; on iOS, choose "Gift"—then add the recipient's email, the sender's name, a brief message, and the date you want it sent (now, or later). One note: On iOS, it looks like you have to tap the "Today" field under "Send Gift" in order to change to a different date.
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble makes gifting eBooks very easy and is similar to Amazon in the way you purchase and send the book via email. In order to gift a Nook Book you have to visit their online website on any PC, MAC or Tablet and search for the book.
You will see a big orange “Buy Now” button and to the right of that in plain text is a Buy as Gift option. You will have the option to enter your recipient's email address and an optional gift message. You can also schedule the date of delivery of the email, so that the person can enjoy the book on exact date you want.
Canadian based Kobo does not let you gift eBooks digitally in the same way Apple, Amazon and Barnes and Noble does. Instead, you have to buy digital/tangible gift cards directly from Kobo or one of their MANY retail partners. Most sell the cards directly on their website or in the physical store. This is likely the least intuitive way to impulse shop or to do something last minute due to the amount of hoops you have to jump through.
Once you purchase a the card, it is up to the end user to use it to purchase digital books. The first thing you need to obviously do is find the book you want to buy. Once you add it to your cart and then are redirected to the purchase screen on the top right-hand corner is a menu to use your gift card to complete the purchase. Simply enter the code and the book will be automatically added to your Kobo account or fleet of devices.
Sony Reader Store
Sony does not have a digital gifting option that allows you to pay and send the book to someones email address. They have a better system than Kobo, because you can buy a card directly from the Sony Reader Store and send it directly to your loved ones email address.
In order to buy someone a Sony Gift card you first have to visit their online gifting center. This is where you can buy and redeem the codes used to purchase books. You can buy the cards in incriminates of 25$ and send the code directly to the email address of the person you are buying it for. The end user simply has to login to their Sony Reader Store account and click on the redeem code feature and add all of the credits to their account.
Google does not offer a gifting program for books from the Google Newsstand or the Google Bookstore. It is very hard to do this directly, but you can buy a generic Play gift card and allow them to pick and choose what type of content they want to buy. Apps, Games, books etc?
Livrada is a startup to watch. They allow companies and publishers to gift specific titles to be redeemed directly on their website or in their stores. A number of European bookstores have jumped on the bandwagon and they are even in 1800 Target Stores in the USA to purchase specific titles like “50 Shades of Grey”