Giving an e-reader user a printed book is like presenting him a manual typewriter. It's a nice gesture, but the book will most likely gather dust while he whips through the newest best-sellers on his device. Luckily for gift-givers, almost all booksellers have added options to their websites to make giving e-books easier.
But it still can be confusing, so we put together a how-to guide below. The first step for anyone seeking to give an e-book is to find out what kind of device the recipient owns. This is extremely important because it is nearly impossible to get an e-book to display on a device if it isn't specifically compatible with it.
This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email. Click here to learn about joining Printers Row.
Once you know which platform the receiver uses, follow these instructions to gift an e-book:
Kindle (supported by Amazon.com): Select the title you would like to give. Look in the format selection box located in the center of the screen and make sure the phrase "Kindle Edition" is highlighted. If it is, click on the "Give as a Gift" button in the upper right-hand corner. If you are not signed in to your Amazon account, you will be prompted to log in.
Once logged in, you will be redirected to a screen that says, "Complete your gift purchase." Make sure to select the button next to the heading: "Email the gift directly to my recipient." Enter the beneficiary's email address, select a delivery date and add a personal message. Once you've clicked the button to place your order, you will receive a confirmation email.
A separate email will be delivered to the recipient on the delivery date with instructions on how to download the e-book to a Kindle. Let the receiver know he should select the option for the book to be delivered to his Kindle, and that he should have his Kindle plugged into his computer when he accepts the gift.
Nook (BarnesandNoble.com): Find the Nook book you want to give and click the "Buy as gift" link, which is located under the list price. A window will pop up where you can input the receiver's email address and a personal message. The delivery date defaults to the day of purchase, so click on the word "date" if you would like to change it. You will receive a confirmation email after you place the order. The beneficiary will get an email with instructions on how to download his Nook book.
iPad/iPhone/iPhone (iBookstore): You cannot give books as gifts from the iBookstore. You can give Apple users iTunes gift cards, which will allow them to download books on their devices from the iBookstore. If you would like to give a specific book, you can send an e-book through Amazon by following the Kindle instructions above. To read the book, the recipient must first download the free Kindle app from the app store. Once the app is installed, the recipient can accept the gift via the confirmation email by selecting the option to download the e-book to his iPhone/iPad. The e-book will appear under the "device" tab in the Kindle app's library.
Kobo or Samsung tablets (kobobooks.com): Search for the book you would like to give. Kobo only sells digital books, so no need to worry about selecting a specific format. Click on the button that says, "Buy as gift." A window will pop up with fields where you can enter the recipient's email address and a personal message. Make sure to change the delivery date if you want the beneficiary to receive the book on a particular date. The recipient will be sent an email with instructions on how to download his book. Tell him to have his device plugged into his computer when he accepts the gift. Samsung tablets come with the Kobo app installed. Let the recipient know to select the option to download the e-book to his tablet when he accepts the gift.
Courtney Crowder writes the weekly E-Reader column and covers the Chicago literary scene for Printers Row Journal.
A thoughtful touch
An e-book can feel like an unsubstantial gift. Unfolding a printed email is not as exciting as ripping open a gift box. Here are three creative ways to let someone know that there is an e-book headed for their inbox.
Revamp a book
Take an old book and wrap it with the cover of the e-book you chose as a gift. Feel free to keep it simple or add some personality with funny phrases or interesting drawings. Remember, you're giving them the book you wrapped, too, so choose a title that you think they'll enjoy or one you don't mind parting with. Click here to see a step-by-step guide for wrapping an old book with a new cover.
Make it a game
Fold an origami fortune teller using simple construction paper or colorful scrapbook pages, which are available for less than $1 at most craft stores. Don't tell the recipient what book you've purchased for him. Instead, under each numbered flap, write a clue. Make sure flap No. 8 lists the title of the book. Hold the fortune teller and read the clues after every number they pick. If they haven't figured out what book it is, let him pick flap No. 8. After the mystery is solved, the fortune teller becomes a keepsake. Click here to see a step-by-step guide for making an origami fortune teller.