I originally wrote this article in March 2012, after being frustrated by the fact I couldn't buy a Kindle book for my wife's new Kindle eReader. Instead, I had to buy her an Amazon voucher and explain that it was for a particular book which I would have bought had I the option.
Now, it's November 2014 and Amazon has added new Kindles to its range such as the £59 touchscreen model, reviewed, and the expensive Voyage. Great, but there's still no option to buy ebooks for friends this Christmas.
No such limitations for our American cousins, though, as you can see plainly in the image above. The same ebook on Amazon's UK site lacks the Give as a Gift button, instead offering a drop-down menu so I can choose where to deliver the ebook (the list contains my iPad, iPhone, the Kindle Cloud Reader, and the various Kindle devices I've reviewed over the last few years). There's no way to add anyone else's Kindle to the list.
What Amazon has done is to introduce the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which allows Kindle owners (with an Amazon Prime membership) to borrow one book per month from a library of 600,000 titles. There's also Kindle Unlimited which lets you read as many books as you like for £7.99 per month. Audiobooks are included too, if you have a device which is capable of playing audiobooks.
Great, but why not allow UK customers to buy Kindle books as gifts? As many people have commented below, there's no sensible reason for this. Amazon has remained tight-lipped and won't give a reason, making it all the more frustrating. And the issue isn't limited to the UK. As far as I know, the ability to give a book as a gift is only possible for US customers.
It's an issue if you don't like giving gift cards or certificates, or don't want to because the recipient might choose to spend the voucher on something else. And it isn't quite the same to give a voucher with an accompanying note suggesting that the recipient spends it on a particular book because you think it will be 'right up their street'.
It's also confusing. It's very easy to buy a Kindle book and later realise it's locked to your account and therefore your Kindle. At least Amazon has made the processo of getting a refund on a Kindle book very simple. As soon as you hit the Buy button, you get a link for a refund in case you bought it accidentally.
Plus, you now have 14 rather than seven days to ask for a refund on any Kindle book. You can click the 'Manage your Kindle' link in your Amazon account to see this option.