Imagine it's Christmas Eve and you suddenly realise you need to send a present to Cousin Jo who lives in Scotland and is snowed in. eBooks are virtual, all you need is an internet connection and you're sorted. You can even get personalised autographs through http://www.authorgraph.com/ if you want to make the gift extra special.
I've used the term DRM throughout this post and it means Digital Rights Management. A good reason to go indie is that most of us don't use it so files are not tied to devices and you can send them to who you like. Just remember to buy one copy of the book for each person you want to give it to because starving writers need to eat too :).
Reading if You Don't Have An eReader
You do not need an eReader to read eBooks, most formats have a PC reader that can be downloaded for free or just open in software you most likely already have installed.
Kindle books have the Kindle App which can be downloaded from your local Amazon site.
Barnes and Noble - have Nook Apps for various devices and PC which can be downloaded from their site.
Diesel eBook store offers links Adobe Digital Editions.
Smashwords offer formats that can be read straight on a PC without any new app.
And there are other options as well, like Kobo.
How to Give An eBook for Christmas
The problem with eBooks is the idiots at the top still think of the world as separate markets, which means you can't buy all books in all countries. This is a pain, but you can get over it with some patience as long as the book has no DRM. You can break DRM, but it's technical and illegal, so I'm not going to tell you how here. If you want to know, Google it. Just buy from those of us sensible enough to know DRM is a pain and not worth putting on books in the first place - it might send a message to the big publishers.
If your friend/family member has a Kindle then Amazon is the place to go. If you are lucky enough to be in the US, or able to buy from the US store then there is a gift option on the eBooks. All you need is your giftee's Amazon email addie (the one associated with their Kindle that allows them to send books to it).
If you are outside the US site where they haven't implemented gift giving yet, then it's a bit harder. Firstly it will only work for books that do not have DRM because otherwise you can't move the book from one device to another. There used to be a way to see this on the book page, but they seem to have removed that. The only way is to check out the publisher, for example we at Wittegen Press do not use DRM for any of our books.
Then set up the Kindle app on your computer, buy the book with the options set to deliver to the Kindle ap and then take the file and email it to the person you wish to give it to. They can then add it to their Kindle manually.
This is the easiest option because they offer a gift option and many many formats all on one site. You only need an email address for the gift book to be sent to, then your giftee can download whichever format they would like.
Barnes and Noble:
They have a gift giving option as well. I don't have an account so I'm not sure quite how it works, but I assume it is similar to Smashwords.
You can buy books from here and download them and they indicate if the have no DRM right on the book page. As long as they are DRM free you can then send them on to the recipient and they can use Adobe Editions to read it on their PC or upload it to their eReader if their reader accepts ePub.
Help, I can't get the file in the format I need for the person I want to give it to.
Never fear, as long as the book is DRM free, this is easy to overcome. You want to download a nifty piece of software called Calibre. Calibre is easy to install and will allow you to convert from one format to another and it does just about anything.
eBooks are quick and easy and rewarding. They make a great virtual stocking stuffer and are well worth looking into. Here is a link to all of Wittegen Press' eBook available now.
If you know of any other DRM free indie publishers with great books - drop me a comment and I'll add them to the list. Also any good DRM free eBooks since Amazon is making them so hard to tell apart. This entry was originally posted at http://beren-writes.dreamwidth.org/219070.html.