Gifting: Part 4, eBooks, iTunes, Wishlists and Gift Cards, oh my?

by on Nov.11, 2010, under Articles, Computers, Novels, Opinions, Roleplaying Games

So in Part 1, I started this way too long article about eBooks and gifts.

In Part 2, I rambled about Amazon and iTune’s ebooks and asked a question that I didn’t really answer.

Around Part 3 I stated that this article would finally finish next post.

The end!

Okay not really. But I’ll restate the issue I am puzzling out.

How do I communicate to the people wanting to purchase books for me what particular eBook vendor or file format to use and are there methods for them to actually gifting these books?

My problem seems to be that I have conflicting interests, based upon what I’ve written so far. I wish to have people gift me eBooks for my iPad. However Apple hasn’t seen fit to support this model of economics for it’s eBooks in it’s service. Amazon’s wishlist is useful but its interface means that directing people to purchase something in a way that is more than ‘click here and buy’ is difficult and risky.

So my proposed solution is gift cards.

Solution: Giftcards

Gasp! You say. I would never stoop so low as to give my near and dearest Nojh a gift card. That is for estranged family and no so close friends. To which I say in a fake european accent, poopy weenier!

Heh. Poopy weenier.

I actually heard/read/watched an article last year regarding the economics of gift giving and that the actual ratio of happiness to money spent ratio is significantly hire when giving gift cards than actual gifts over the long haul. IE that people who receive gift cards very specifically go out and buy what they want and like, as it isn’t rent money or savings money, its extra money they can spend on themselves. I think this kind of assumes that you get them the right gift card, of course. For example giving me gift cards to clothing stores? Not so much.

Additionally gift cards are supposed to be better, economically, for stores. Meaning that if everybody gave gift cards, and the occasional gift they were sure someone else wanted, then economically it would be better for all, including stores, as the massive return lines associated with the day after new years is actually economically detrimental. Supposedly. I might be remembering wrong. It seems counter intutitive.

That being said, I’m still going to guess gifts for my friends because I like gifts but I think, for my e-Book solution, I’m actually going to put gift cards up on my Amazon wish list, with the note that I plan to purchase books with the cards. And maybe the occasional iPad game.

Final Thoughts

Obviously this isn’t optimal. My friends want to purchase something specific for me. And this also doesn’t cover independent distributors or gaming PDFs, although gaming PDF webstores have built in wishlists so I could go fill that out and then perhaps put a link to it in my Amazon wish list.

I guess ultimately this basically required me to have some faith that the people who are interested in purchasing things for me are willing to look at the details of the items I’m asking for.

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3 Comments for this entry

  • midga

    Hell yeah it’s better for stores. The gift card is paid for, and there’s almost no production involved in making them. Then the store has money. Yay money. Eventually, they’ll lose a product of equivalent selling value as the gift card. That’s cool, they’ve had the money for a while, and economically that makes a difference. You could, of course, make the argument that the item is effectively acting as a gift card if you return it, but that’s where the actual physical value of the gift card comes into play.

    Also, when you have returns lines, you also have people working those returns lines, and less people shopping since they’d have to deal with the returns lines and all the people parked out there returning things and not spending more money. With gift cards, it’s just standard shopper traffic except with positive store credit.

    I’ll admit I used to be in the camp that really disliked the idea of gift cards, but as I’ve become more conscious of consumption that’s changed almost entirely. Personally, I like cards to Amazon and other internet-capable stores. If I can use the card to purchase a product without leaving my room, it’s a winner to me.

  • Nojh

    So here is the real question for you then. Is it any more consumptive from an economic or resource standpoint for these companies to run return counters, or a 24-7 run a website for online orders from gift cards, that also translate into shipping the product to your home?

    There is also a downside to local economies if stores don’t hire for holiday rushes.

    Bit of a catch 22 there.

  • Lacy Jae

    I think people are too against gift cards/cash because they have the idea that it’s impersonal. I would love to be able to get/make the perfect thing for everyone – but if you want books, or music… why not gift cards? I certainly don’t find them impersonal to receive, it shows you want me to be happy and pick what I want.

    There will always be people who don’t want to look at the details. It IS easier to get a gift card to somewhere you know the person likes, than to spend hours searching for that perfect gift, which you may not even FIND. I just don’t have a problem if that’s what someone wants to do – I will never have enough money for music, for movies/tv, for books. NEVER. Gift cards are just fine. :)


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