This holiday, why not try giving more with less by dematerializing your gifts?
Essentially, dematerialization is the digitization of items, mostly media like books, music and video games (that’s a hint of what to expect on this list). These works, now freed from physical media — at least on the consumer end since they still ‘reside’ on a server somewhere — can then be transmitted over the Internet.
Let the cloud handle the sending of your gifts to your friends’ and loved ones’ devices, for them to enjoy the near-instant they receive their digital presents. Best of all, e-gifts are available right up to the last minute.
For eco-minded gift-givers, the environmental non-impact is huge.
You’ll be thrilled to take fewer trips to the mall and enjoy savings in gas, time and sanity. On the supplier side, there are fewer books to print and CDs/DVDs to manufacture, press and ship. Sure, big data centers are popping up in their place, but they are centralized and a lot greener than the manufacturing plants and truck fleets that they displace.
And it’s not just wishful green thinking. Recently, artist Erik Kessels gave us a vivid example of what the pictures uploaded to Flickr during a 24-hour period would look like if they were physical prints. And studies have revealed the environmental benefits of ebooks compared to their dead-tree counterparts.
So, hopefully I’ve sold you on some virtual gift giving this year, yay! Here’s what to get the people on your list.
A word of warning first: Some people think that e-gifting is impersonal. If you have someone like that on your list, the first step is to gift with their passions in mind. Secondly, get creative. Most stores let you print out redemption codes. Stuff these in a swank holiday card or a recyclable/recycled gift box.
Now that that’s settled…
For the music lover
I have two recommendations to make here, one for U.S.-based readers and you lucky stiffs in parts of Europe. You’ll see why…
If you’re in the U.S. , Amazon MP3 Gift Cards
Though it lacks the slickness of the iTunes ecosystem, Amazon’s library rivals that of iTunes. Quality-wise, their high-bitrate MP3s sound great. They’re also DRM-free, meaning that they’ll integrate seamlessly with iTunes, album artwork and all, or the music player and/or device of your choice. Better yet Amazon consistently offers tremendous discounts, meaning that the recipient(s) of your gift card can really stretch your holiday dollars.
There are several delivery options available, including via e-mail and Facebook. If you still want to cling to the material world a little, you can buy physical Amazon MP3 gift cards starting at $10 with free, one-day shipping.
Europeans, give Spotify Premium instead
I planned to make this my one and only recommendation in this category, but Spotify’s gift card link greeted me with this wall of fail (viewable in regions lacking gift card support):
Gift cards not available
Spotify gift cards are currently not available in your country.
Looking for Spotify Premium? You can get it here!
I have it already, but thanks!
It’s a pity that Spotify couldn’t get this functionality up and running in the U.S. in time for the holidays, but that’s par for the course with the company. But let’s not dwell..
If you’re in Europe, you’re already well-versed in how Spotify wows with its vast music library, excellent desktop software for Mac and Windows (no Internet browser support, though), and free, feature-packed apps for iOS and Android. And with its new app ecosystem, Spotify is poised to overshadow competing music services by eliminating many of the service’s lingering blind spots like a recommendation engine.
Add some generous offline storage and high-bitrate goodness, and a Spotify subscription is the perfect gift to give music lovers without cluttering up their CD racks or taking up insane amounts of hard drive space.
Next: Gifting for bookworms and PC gamers