Until it came time to give away the prize.
And they discovered it was nearly impossible to give away ebooks. They were tied to the buyer's account. If someone loaded a Kindle and charged the books to his account, the new owner would be able to perpetually buy books using that account. But once the account was removed from the device, the books would disappear as well!
But those days are history--gone the way of the rotary phone and the Walkman.
Now, Amazon at least, allows the gifting of ebooks. (And as the proud author of an ebook, I think that's a very good thing.) If a reader likes a book, he could always recommend it to his friend. But now he can go a step further--and actually BUY the book for his friend.
Here's how that's done:
Go to the Amazon page for the KINDLE edition of the book you'd like to give. You'll have to have an Amazon account and be logged in to make a purchase, of course. For a purely hypothetical example (wink), here's mine: Gold, Frankincense, and Murder.
Once there, find the "Give as a Gift" button. Click away.
On the next page that comes up, you'll have the option of typing in the email address of the recipient and the date you want the gift delivered. Consider how handy that is for giving e-books for special occasions. Graduations, birthdays, weddings--that parenting book for a baby shower. And, oh yeah, A HOLIDAY ROMANTIC MYSTERY NOVELLA FOR CHRISTMAS. Yeah, what a great idea!! And you can have it arrive promptly on December 25th. How convenient is that! Especially for those people who are getting a new e-reader for Christmas, and don't know it yet. Shhhh....
You can also elect to have the email delivered to you instead, so you can send it yourself, or hand deliver it on a plate of snickerdoodles.
You can also type in a personalized message. Hats off to Amazon--they've created a great system here.
Now that you've seen how it works, why not practice sending Gold, Frankincense, and Murder to a friend. You might need to send it to several friends to make sure you've got the hang of e-book giving. Practice makes perfect. ;)
99 cent holiday novella, would be perfect as a special little something for your friend, spouse, brother, sister, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, child's teacher, school principal, Sunday school teacher, pastor, paper delivery person, hair stylist, gardener, snow plow operator, and first responder. You can even print out extra to have on hand to give to neighbors who drop by, carolers, and the harried waitress at the local diner.