Another workaround is to give your friend an Amazon gift card. The popular spin is, "that way your friend can buy what they want, not what you pick." Woo-hoo. Aren't gift cards mostly intended for givers too lazy to think of (and shop for) a good gift?
Amazon undoubtedly loves gift cards though. First of all, just like every other retailer offering gift cards, they get their money now, well before they ever receive an order against it. Secondly, there's a good chance the recipient will never use the full value of the card. That's a tiny profit on an individual basis but adds up quickly if you're talking about millions of partially-used cards.
So why is it that I can gift a Kindle itself but not a Kindle book? Speculate all you want about legal ramifications and DRM but what if it has nothing to do with any of that? What if Amazon just doesn't want to encourage Kindle book gift-giving?
Someone receiving a gift card might buy something other than a Kindle book with it. Don't forget that Amazon loses money when it sells many of those Kindle editions. From a profitability point of view, Amazon is much happier selling you the print edition of that book than the Kindle edition.
Here's the problem with all this: Before too long one ebook retailer will decide that gifting is an important customer feature. I forgot to include this in my list last week but I believe it's something every retailer will have to offer to remain competitive.
So, Amazon, why not take the lead on this? Let everyone gift Kindle editions to their friends and family. If you don't do it soon someone else will and you'll be perceived as a follower.
P.S. -- Kudos to Amazon on the dictionary feature they added to the latest version of their Kindle app for the iPad. It's a much better service than the clumsy dictionary offered on my Kindle v1.