I Kindle, you Kindle, we all Kindle: sharing books on your Amazon Kindle

[That’s four “Kindle“s and the post hasn’t even begun!]

When blabbing on and on about my new Kindle, I got some comments and tweets asking about sharing books between Kindles, so I thought I’d delve a little further to answer your questions.

I was unsure about electronic readers from the very beginning because I thought it meant always having to buy books and not being able to share them like I’ve always been apt to do. Plus, I’ve always liked books themselves. When my mom and step-dad gifted me a Kindle, I was still admittedly a little hesitant about it. I had heard that you couldn’t share books between Kindles, but you could share them on Nooks (though there is a time limit on lending books, and you can only lend each title once). It wasn’t until I did a little Googling and found this post that I got really, really excited about my Kindle.

image source

The short of it: you cannot share or lend books to just any other Kindle user, but you can share an unlimited number of books (for an unlimited amount of time) with up to six Kindles on the same Amazon.com account. For some people this may be a drawback, because they may want to share books with friends without necessarily sharing an Amazon account (where credit card information is stored). If you have family members or other trustworthy friends with Kindles, though, it is an amazing way to share. Case in point: my mom has had her Kindle since last Christmas and has over 20 books already purchased in her library. By adding my Kindle to the same account, I had immediate access to all of her books, and it’s totally legal. Here’s how it works.

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• When you purchase and receive your Kindle, you’ll be prompted to register it to an Amazon.com account when you first turn it on. It will automatically be registered to the account through which it was purchased, but you can switch to a different shared account if desired. From your Kindle, select Home > Menu > Settings > Register or Deregister. From Amazon.com, register or deregister via the Your Account > Manage Your Kindle pages.

• If you want to pay for titles you purchase on a separate credit card from other users on the account, you can do so by selecting Manage Your Kindle > Your 1-click Payment Method and adding your own credit card. On our account, my mom’s credit card is the default payment method, because she purchases new books more frequently than I do. If I want to buy a book, I simply go to our account online, click Edit and choose my credit card before I make my purchase. When I’m done, I switch the default back to my mom’s credit card so she can buy her next title without making any changes here. Fortunately, we trust each other to not rack up credit card charges on the other person’s card, though I can see where this step would feel a bit risky if sharing an account with friends.

• When you purchase a title via Amazon.com, you can choose which Kindle that title should be sent to.

Regardless of the device you choose, that title will always be available in the library on the Amazon account, so other users on the same account can have it delivered to their Kindle at any time.

You can also purchase a title directly through your Kindle with a wifi connection, in which case the title is still available in the account library at all times.

• At the bottom of the Manage Your Kindle page, click on Manage synchronization between devices. If you want your Kindle to remember the last page of a particular title that you read (assuming that someone else on the same account could be reading the same book at the same time), you’ll want to click the yellow button on the right to Turn Synchronization Off. The only time you’ll want synchronization turned on is if you own multiple devices and you want all of your Kindles to track the last page of a book you read. (Though I’m not sure why one person would have multiple Kindles.)

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It honestly took just a few minutes to get everything set up and working seamlessly. I am officially addicted to reading again, and it’s a nice feeling! While I still love real, tangible books, I love that my Kindle takes up very little space (which works out well for me, given that the bookshelves in our apartment don’t have much room to spare). It’s great for traveling, particularly on long trips when you may have time to read more than one book but don’t have room in your luggage for several books, and I swear that it allows me to read faster (but maybe that’s just in my head).

Some people argue that sharing books on electronic readers is walking a fine line between innocent sharing and intellectual property violation. I genuinely think it can only be advantageous to writers and publishers as their work can now reach a broader audience than it may have before, and there is more money to be made off of electronic books that don’t require any printing whatsoever (but are still sold at prices similar to paperback prices). There will always be libraries, used book stores and book-sharing, and electronic readers are simply the latest method for facilitating book lending.

So now, the question is: do you Kindle (or will you consider it, now that you know about sharing)?


  1. I have a Kindle and now I can access all my books on my iphone and ipad. So I gave my Kindle to my husband. We can now share books because it’s literally one account and it works great. Too bad this won’t work with your best friends. I have one that buys like 6 books at a time and I would NOT want her to have access to my CC! :)

    This post as inspired me to pick up my “books” again once my time frees up soon!

  2. Do you usually leave yours on sleep mode, or do you turn it off? I just got mine and I’m not sure what is best for it. So far I am loving it. It’s great for a commuter. I need some good book recommendations!

  3. @Katie, when I first got it I didn’t bother reading the instructions very well and I just put it in sleep mode when I turned it off because I thought that WAS off. Then my mom told me otherwise! However, sleep mode really didn’t affect the battery very much. Overall the battery seems to last a really long time on each charge, but I’d say turn it off if you know you won’t be reading it for a while.

  4. I love my Kindle! And, you can keep their books after you deactivate from another person’s account. It’s a bit trickier, but possible. Here’s how you do it. De-register from your account and register into their account, send the books you want to your Kindle. Turn your Kindle on and turn the wireless on. Wait a few minutes. Their books should now appear in your “archived” items book list, go there and “restore” each book to your “Home” menu/booklist. They are now yours and won’t disappear so you can de-register from your friends account, re-register back to your own account. You now have their books and since you’re back on your account (or vice versa) you (or they) can’t charge to each others account!

    *ps…words in “quotes” are not necessarily the true words, I don’t have my Kindle so I’m going off my memory

  5. I have been looking at getting an electronic reader since the summer. Why did you decide to get the Kindle over the Nook?

  6. Thanks so much for this follow-up post to my previous comment (I forgot to say thanks earlier)! We’re buying my mom a Kindle for her b-day in Dec. Can’t wait to start sharing books with her!

  7. Have you enquired with Amazon whether they think this is OK? It sounds great, as long as the Amazon folks don’t think it’s in violation of the end user agreement.

    I’ll do this, once I know it’s OK

  8. @Jack – Amazon clearly states that you can have up to 6 Kindles/devices on a single account. According to this page on their site (http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=sv_kinh_9?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200127470):

    “You can enjoy your Kindle content on Kindle devices or Kindle applications that are registered to your Amazon.com account. There may be limits on the number of devices (usually six) that can simultaneously use a single book. Subscriptions to newspapers or periodicals cannot be shared on multiple devices….”

    So as long as the multiple devices are registered to the same account, it does not seem to be violating anything in their user agreement. Also, since I wrote this post, they have introduced 14-day book sharing with other users on separate accounts.

  9. the kindle fire is the only one that you cant get books from other peoples kindle when i had the second generation i was able to log into my sisters account and download books than sign out and back into mine and they would still be there and my whole family does it too because on the kindles before the fire they actually save on the actually device.

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