My mother is a proud mother, and like any proud mother, she wants to get my novella into the hands of all her friends and family. Which is a considerable number of people. After we had a small lesson in ebook piracy, she asked if she could buy numerous copies of my book and send them to her friends. I told her that I was sure she could.
Apparently, I was wrong.
I decided to look into this right away, because she’s gonna want to do this. But every ebookstore I looked at–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, ebooks.com, MobiPocket, Kobo, Sony, iBooks–had either no possible way to buy an ebook gift, or you had buy a gift certificate. (Except WowIO, which uses its own proprietary format to support advertising). Check this out from Fictionwise’s FAQ:
Can I order multiple copies of an eBook?
Since you can download your eBooks as needed, there is no reason to buy multiple copies. If you wish to buy an eBook for a friend, check out our Gift Certificate and Gift Pack page.
Um, yes there is a reason to buy multiple ebooks. Because you want to legally distribute them to multiple persons.
This seems to me to be a grave oversight. It may have been done on purpose to protect the publisher or author, but from a consumer point-of-view, it makes no sense. I can understand DRM issues and the desire for companies like Amazon to know what is going into Kindles, but to have no support at all for giving ebooks as gifts seems to be simply asking for piracy to happen.
Why? Because well-meaning mothers of authors have no way to send the book to their friends except illegally. If my book had come out in print, my mother could have gone to the store, bought all the copies, and handed them out. She could have ordered twenty copies from Amazon. But there is simply NO WAY for her to do this with an ebook, at least legally.
I ask you, why? Book industry, you need to figure this out.