Kobo has announced today its plans to allow people to actually purchase specific e-books as gifts.If you plan to buy an e-book as a gift for someone, the closest you've been able to get 'til now is to buy them a gift card and have the recipient download the title of their choosing. But
In addition, Kobo will allow gift-givers to schedule when they want the e-book "delivered." Recipients can read the e-books on all platforms on which Kobo is available, from the Kobo e-reader to the iPad, iPhone, Android, PC and Mac.
Kobo may be one of the lesser known names in the e-book market, but today's announcement puts it one step ahead of its larger competitors. Amazon says, for example, that "While gifting is not yet offered in the Kindle store, we are working to make it available in the near future."
The transfer of e-book material - whether as a gift or as a loan - has been rather contentious with e-readers. Both the Nook and the Kindle allow users to loan e-books for short durations, but with DRM restrictions. Kobo uses the ePUB format and describes itself as a more open alternative. "We believe open standards for e-books are best for consumers, publishers, retailers and hardware manufacturers. Closed systems stifle innovation and growth."
In addition to e-book gift-giving, Kobo will also make available gift cards for e-books. But the ability to actually give a specific book, rather than a gift card is a nice feature, well-timed for predictions that place e-books as one of the "hot items" for the holidays.