• 2011
  • Jan
  • 19

Why Not - The Present Converter

Imagine the following scenario:

It is xmas, and everybody is running around like a headless chicken trying to find something they can give their beloved once, and their family.
Of course one does not just make cash gifts since those are:

  1. considered impersonal and prove that one did not have a better idea (regardless of the fact that a better idea could not be identified, and the receiver of the cash price might actually be happy with cash)
  2. have a direct amount that is not off-set by the personal though which of course creates the expectation that the return gift is of equal or larger value, which just opens an entire can of worms on game theory (so lets not go there)

So people eventually will actually exchange books, that appear to somehow have sentimental value, or humorous aspects to them. And since most books are actually sold by amazon we are living in a world where amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) supplies us with all we need.

An almost perfect world.

If it wasn’t for weight, size, and storage issues with books. After xmas I had to take 5 books with me back to the us and of course my amazon kindle. Wouldn’t it be nice if the book had magically shown up on my kindle instead? So much easier to carry, so much easier to store, so much easier to read, search, share, bookmark, etc…

Well here comes the idea:

Why not offer kindle users the ability to receive hard cover books on their e-book reader instead, fully transparent to the sender of the gift?

The scenario goes as follows:

A fictitious relative wants to send me a book as a xmas gift from amazon and goes online on amazon.de/.com/.co.uk picks the books, and has is send my way, gift wrapped and all.

amazon detects the shipping address and discovers a rule I defined that I generally prefer e-books over hard cover books. So based on this setting amazon sends me the e-book.
Amazon saves the shipping and handling, my fictitious relative did send me a book, which even arrived in time, no trees hat to be cut in thin slices for the paper, and for the most case I wouldn’t even complain if amazon keep the delta between hardcover and e-book - everybody is super happy.

Now you can start looking at the corner cases - how about if I actually want to get the hard cover?
Let’s assume open book exams, sentimentally valued books, children books with big colorful pictures, etc. I feel I should be able to trade the e-book in for the actual send book, within a given time period. Of receive an email early in the process making me pick one or the other.

What if the e-book costs more than the hard cover
Well - I feel that this should never happen - there is just no reason for this, shipping and storing bits and bytes is just soo much easier than keeping, handling and sending actual books. If this actually happens Amazon should eat the cost - and find out why they overcharge for the e-book.

I hope to see this idea pop-up some time soon - ideally before next xmas ;-)

Let me know what your take is, and what other use cases you see for this very basic idea, or why it will never fly.