Amazon is offering its customers the ability to "gift" Kindle ebooks, in another feature build-out to better compete with Barnes & Noble's Nook and the Apple iPad.
Amazon.com is offering its customers the ability to "gift" Kindle
ebooks, yet another escalation in the online retailer's efforts to stay atop
the e-reader market. Despite its sales position, Kindle faces increased
competition from not only Barnes & Nobles' new Nook Color, but also the
Apple iPad and other tablet PCs with e-reader applications.
"We are thrilled to make it easier than ever for our customers to give
their favorite Kindle book to a friend or family member as a gift," Russ
Grandinetti, vice president of Amazon Kindle, wrote in a Nov. 19 statement.
Users can now select a book from the Kindle store and click "Give as a
Gift," sending the ebook to a selected e-mail address.
Amazon managed to capture an early lead in the then-nascent e-reader market
with the Kindle. With
high-profile launches attended by literary celebrities such as Stephen King,
the retailer managed to capture much of the public mind share. By the end of
2009, however, the market had evolved from niche to mainstream; not only had
Barnes & Noble launched the competing Nook, but a host of smaller
manufacturers decided to carve off a share of the market with their own
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, those startups offered their
own surefire ways for conquering segments of the e-reader market. Over the
course of subsequent quarters, though, many of those companies imploded-leaving
Amazon, Sony and Barnes & Noble to battle it out. At the same time, Apple
offered a competitive challenge from the flank with the iPad, which offers an
e-bookstore of its own.
In July, Amazon unveiled the third-generation Kindle ($189) alongside the
cheaper Kindle WiFi ($139), the latter undercutting the similarly stripped-down
Nook WiFi by $10. The newest Kindle includes a Webkit-based browser,
text-to-speech, and the ability to listen to music and podcasts.
Not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook Color, which
offers a 7-inch display, 8GB of storage space expandable through a microSD
slot, WiFi capability, Web surfing, LendMe and the option to share selected
passages from ebooks via Facebook and Twitter. The bookseller evidently hopes
all those features will justify the $249 price point. Nook
Color shipments have already begun.
Analytics company In-Stat has estimated the e-reader market as growing from
12 million units in 2010 to 35 million in 2014. In addition, both Barnes &
Noble and Amazon offer respective e-reader applications for use on a variety of
mobile devices and PCs, as a channel for selling ebooks.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.