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The Best Last-Minute Digital Gifts

These immediately-available gifts are perfect for the lazy gift-giver as well as for the digital-centric recipients.
Updated

It's Christmas morning and suddenly you realize you still need a gift or two for that one child that you're always forgetting about. Kevin? Who can remember them all! Well, fortunately we put together this list of over a dozen last-minute digital gifts that can be under the tree as fast as you can print 'em.

Alternately, you can choose to view these items as a collection of gifts suitable for your digitally-minded gift recipients. We think we're far enough into the digital revolution that receiving a printed out piece of paper with a code for a book is acceptable (to most people who are not our mom).

eBooks

  • Amazon Kindle eBooks
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email or print out
    Unlike many of the other services on this list, Amazon gives you the option to send the gift notification to yourself, so you can print it out and present it. If you're keen, you'll glance at your recipient's bookshelf and choose a title that isn't supported in Amazon's Kindle MatchBook program, too! But beware, Amazon book prices may be on the rise.

  • Barnes & Noble
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email
    There are no printing options, but like most of the items on this list B&N does let you schedule the notification email for a future date. You could buy a book now and have it delivered on December 25, for example. (It'll arrive at 12:01 in the morning, sure, but at least it lets you plan ahead a little bit!)

  • iTunes
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email
    Even though there are no printable gift certificate options, with so many people using their iPads as eReaders, iTunes might be an attractive service for gifting iBooks anyway. However, it helps to remember that the Amazon Kindle app is available for iOS devices, so double check to make sure you're getting the best price on the book you're about to gift. (Being a last-minute shopper doesn't preclude being a last-minute saver, too!)

Comics

  • Comixology
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Immediate delivery via email
    Your only choice is to order comics right before you all sit down to open presents. Inconvenient? Yes, but there are only so many last-minute digital comic book gift delivery options. Comixology does have the biggest online selection and you can choose from individual issues or collections and bundles, too.

  • DC Comics
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Immediate delivery via email
    It's the same story at DC Comics as with Comixology, except this merchant only sells DC comics. (Comixology sells Marvel, DC, and works from independent publishers, too.)

  • Marvel Unlimited
    Price: $9.99/month; $69/year; $99/year with "extras"
    Delivery Options: Immediate delivery via email or print out
    Marvel Unlimited is an all-you-can-read subscription to Marvel's digital comics. However, it's only back catalogue stuff, not new releases. Still, Marvel Unlimited is the only online comic shop allows the recipient access to more than just one comic book series or issue; this is about as close you'll come to giving a gift that keeps on giving, as new (older) content is added to Unlimited on a regular basis.

    Even better, the Annual Plus membership includes a limited edition Hasbro Marvel Legends 6" Gold-colored Ultron figure, exclusive variant cover Age of Ultron #10, and some other real-world goodies. It'll all show up after Christmas if you subscribe last-minute, but who doesn't like getting more stuff after the holidays are over? Little Christmas anyone?
Note that Marvel Online does not directly offer gifting of its titles, but you can buy them through Comixology.

Audiobooks

  • Audible
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email or printable gift card
    Who has time to sit and read? Busy people now "read" their books on-the-go. In the car or at the gym, your recipient can expand her mind with a science text or have his mind blown with the latest Dan Brown book (that thing is twisty!). Audible also lets you create a custom printable gift card with an image and a personalized message — a slightly nicer presentation than just thrusting a printed email at someone for sure.

Music

  • Amazon MP3 Store
    Price: Tracks from $0.69; albums from $5
    Delivery Options: Immediate delivery via email
    It would be nice if Amazon offered a delayed email delivery for its music, but at least recipients are offer an Amazon MP3 Store credit if they already own the album. Finally, there's no worrying that Dad might already own Beyoncé's latest!

  • iTunes
    Price: Tracks from $0.69; albums from $8
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email
    iTunes makes up for its lack of good pricing by giving you the option to schedule a gift email for a later date (something that Amazon does not do). Outside of that, with Amazon's better MP3 prices on the majority of MP3s, the only reason to gift someone an iTunes song or album is if they're a huge Apple fan who will absolutely throw a fit if they have to go elsewhere for their music. (Admit it, we all know at least one of those guys!)

  • Pandora
    Price: $36/year
    Delivery Options: Immediate delivery via email or printable gift card
    A year's Pandora subscription is the perfect gift for that person on your list who likes to discover new music via an algorithmic recommendation engine. Upgrade their Pandora subscription to give them ad-free listening, high quality audio, and other perks that the free version does not have.

  • Spotify
    Price: $9.99/month
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email or printable gift card
    For the "I want to hear it now!" listener on your list, Spotify offers access to hundreds of thousands of songs at the push of a button. This premium upgrade gives them on-demand music without ads and access to Spotify mobile and is available 1-, 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions.
Pandora and Spotify are arguably the two most popular streaming services (at least in the DealNews offices), but there are so many other streaming services, too. To find the one that'll best fit your giftee, check out our Guide to Finding the Right Music Streaming Service flowchart.

Movies & TV

  • iTunes
    Price: $10+
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email
    If your last-minute gift recipient is an Apple fanboy, he won't mind a digital copy of his favorite movie from the iTunes store. If he's a fan of any other online movie store, though, you're out of luck. Apple is the only store that lets you gift individual movies the recipient can keep; the others are only "streamers."

  • Netflix
    Price: $7.99/month
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email or printable gift card
    Even if the person receiving this already pays for Netflix (which is highly likely), a gift subscription won't go to waste because it can still cover the cost of a couple months of their service. Who doesn't like getting something they use and love for free? You can choose from 1-, 2-, 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions.

  • Hulu Plus
    Price: $7.99/month
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email or printable gift card
    Is your last-minute gift for someone who appreciates small-screen entertainment? Hook your TV-watching pal up with hours of current and vintage TV viewing in increments of 1 month, up to a full year! And, again, if your recipient already subscribes to Hulu+, this gets them out of paying for it for a time. People definitely like not having to pay for things they already want.
Though you weirdly can not gift movies through Amazon, for $79 you can gift an Amazon Prime 1-year subscription, which comes with a smattering of free streaming content, as well as some free eBooks. Plus, the recipient can enjoy free 2-day shipping on most they purchase through the site, so it's a gift that keeps on giving (as long as they keep on buying!)

Video Games

  • Steam
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Immediate email or saved for later
    Steam lets you, the gift-giver, save a gift to your account for delivery at a later time. For deal-savvy people, this means you can lock in a low price during one of Steam's notorious sales, then send it along later when you're good and ready. This is all done by hand, though, as there is no scheduling the gift to go out at a future time. Steam offers games for Mac as well as PC, so both camps are covered.

  • GOG
    Price: Free or $1+
    Delivery Options: Immediate email
    GOG is a repository of "Good Old Games" from "back in the day" when we were "old skool" ... or just "old." GOG offers a wide selection of "Oh! I remember this!" titles from yesteryear that are sure to delight any vintage gamer. It's also worth noting that GOG lets you gift free games! (Though, you probably shouldn't do this as you are bound to be found out.) GOG also offers titles for both Windows and Mac.

  • GameStop
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Immediate email
    If what you want to last-minute gift is a Windows game and you want to score some PowerUp Rewards points while doing so (that's next-level gifting, by the way!), then you might consider a digital download from GameStop. GameStop often has games that Steam or Gamer's Gate doesn't (and vice versa), so it's worth it to check each store before making your final decision.

  • Gamer's Gate
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Immediate email or saved for later
    You can choose to have your Gamer's Gate purchase immediately sent to the recipient or you can save it to your account and send it later; there's no scheduled option, though. And while Gamer's Gate often undercuts Steam (sometimes by as much as five cents!) it's worth checking each online store's prices, just in case a download is cheaper elsewhere.

Mobile Games & Apps

  • iTunes
    Price: $0.99+
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email
    If you want to gift an app, you can only do so for someone who rocks an iOS device. Neither of the other two big app stores, Google Play or Amazon, have digital gifting functionality at all. At Amazon, you can gift Amazon Coins, which can be used to purchase apps and make in-app purchases; Google Play has nothing in place for digital gifting at all.

Unconventional Gifts

  • Ancestry.com
    Price: $99+
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email
    We're going really niche for this one, we know, but if someone you need a last-minute gift for is into researching genealogy, then you're all set. Actually, think about it this way: if you give someone this gift, there is no way they are going to think it was a last-minute gift purchase. Who buys ancestral research at the last minute?!

  • New York Times
    Price: $30+
    Delivery Options: Scheduled email
    The $30 subscription includes unlimited reading on NYTimes.com and via the smartphone app. More expensive plans offer digital access via tablets or via tablets and smartphones. If you know a news junky, this subscription might just be a great gift. Plus, you can kind of think of it as charity ... in that you're donating to keep traditional media outlets alive in this fast-paced news age of Facebook and Twitter!
Media Editor

Jeff Somogyi is the DealNews Media Editor. Since working here he's written deals, features, promotional and newsletter copy, blog posts, as well as scripts for our videos. Follow him on Google+, Twitter at @sommerjam or his blog.
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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2 comments
Missy1989
Good article.
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