I have posted in the past on how to run giveaways for your books. Forbes recently posted an article titled, Amazon’s New ‘Buy For Others’ Kindle Feature Lets Authors Buy Giftable Ebooks.
According to the article, Amazon now has a new Kindle feature: Termed “buy for others,” the feature lets users buy multiple copies of an ebook, allowing authors to purchase review copies for their fans.
The update, detailed in a page on KDP’s Help Topics, is explicitly aimed at authors who need to gift their books to others. Authors might need to throw social media giveaways, offer freebies at in-person events, or give newsletter subscribers a review copy. It’s a useful feature, given that marketing is an essential element for indie self-publishers.
A Gift Horse
So how does this change things?
Turns out, it does and it doesn’t. What changed is that gifting ebooks is once again easy. After a period during which Amazon seemed undecided as to whether it should allow gifting of e-books or not (paperbacks were never a problem), it’s good to have a clear policy on the matter.
What hasn’t changed is that the “new” feature keeps everything in-house: Authors who purchase their own ebook through the feature will earn back royalties just as they would for any normal purchase, the copies can be sent in the form of a redemption link to anyone on Amazon.com, and the recipients can read the ebook via any supported Amazon device, or through the free Kindle App on iOS or Android.
A few safeguards help protect the authors buying the copies: Recipients can’t swap out the redemption links for gift cards or other Amazon purchases, and authors will be refunded for any redemption links that go unused for 60 days.
How to NOT Use Giveaways
The “buy for others” feature seems to be an easy way for authors to drum up verified reviews. However, recipients of gift copies are only able to leave non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews.
Furthermore, a cunning marketer might read into this an easy way to cheat: since Amazon will give authors royalties, maybe it will also let giveaways improve a book’s rankings (incidentally, I suspect this is why it’s taken Amazon so long to come up with a decent way of gifting ebooks). They may also help a book enter the coveted New York and USA Today best-seller lists.
Amazon has thought of this, stating that a bulk order will only affect rank in a similar manner to the purchase of one copy — to prevent straightforward gaming of the charts. However, as David Gaughran points out, this leaves open a rather obvious loophole: allowing someone to place multiple orders of small amounts to gain maximum rank benefit.
An easy way to take care of this is for Amazon to forbid any gifted books from affecting sales rank. Giveaways must also not be reported to USA Today or the New York Times, to avoid gifted books making it into their respective best-seller lists.
But we have yet to hear from Amazon on that.
What Amazon does say on giveaways is the following (highlights are my own, to draw attention to the most important points):
Amazon lets you buy multiple copies of your eBook in a single order. This option is best when you want to buy many copies of a book at once. When you buy multiple copies of a Kindle eBook on Amazon.com, we create a set of redemption links, one for each copy of the book. You can send these links to any reader on Amazon.com. Recipients can redeem a claimed code from any desktop or mobile browsers and download the eBook to registered devices.
When buying eBooks in bulk:
- You earn royalties based on the price and royalty option selected at the time of purchase
- You can send copies to any reader on Amazon.com
- Your recipients can receive your eBook on any supported Amazon device or with a free Kindle App on iOS or Android.
- Any unredeemed copies can be refunded within 60 days or re-gifted at any time
- Recipients cannot exchange eBooks for gift cards or other products
The following applies to your purchase of multiple eBook copies:
- Free titles and titles available for pre-order aren’t eligible for bulk purchase
- Royalties accrue and sales will appear in your reports only when a title is redeemed
- An order of multiple eBooks will be considered when evaluating Sales Rank; the quantity of copies within that order will not be considered
- Recipients of eBook copies from a multi-copy purchase are able to leave non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews based on existing Community Guidelines
Gifting a Kindle eBook is similar to giving someone an Amazon.com Gift Card. Unlike gifting physical copies of your book, when you gift the eBook, the recipient doesn’t receive your title immediately. Instead, the recipient receives a redemption code. The recipient can choose to accept your gift by redeeming the code or to exchange it for a gift card. Customers can only gift titles available through KDP on Amazon.com, either through Wishlists or detail pages.
As with multi-copy purchases:
- Free titles and titles available for pre-order aren’t eligible for gifting
- You can only gift your book to anyone within the US
- Royalties will accrue only if the recipient redeems the title
- Your royalties will be based on the price and royalty option selected at the time the Kindle gift was purchased
- Your gift recipients can receive your title even if they don’t own a Fire tablet or Kindle E-reader. They can read your eBook on a supported Amazon device or Kindle reading app
Unlike multi-copy purchases:
- Gifts cannot be returned by the person who bought them
- As with all Kindle sales, gift recipients have the option to return the gift within 7 days of downloading
- Recipients can choose to exchange the eBook for a gift card
- You can enter a recipient’s email address to have Amazon send the redemption code on your behalf
OK, I’m Sold. How Do I Do It?
Here’s a brief guide to gifting your book.
To buy multiple copies:
- Go to the eBook’s detail page and find Buy for Others
- Select a quantity greater than 1
- Complete your purchase
- You will receive an email with redemption links. Alternatively, go to Your Account › Your Orders › Manage Your Redemption Links
- Send redemption links to your recipients
Want to send just one Kindle eBook as a gift? Here’s how:
- Go to the eBook’s detail page and find Buy for Others
- Select a quantity of 1
- Enter the recipient’s email address and have Amazon send the eBook to your recipient on your behalf