Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Share Books on Amazon Kindle

A common question I get is how do you share books between more than one Amazon Kindle? There are two basic answers to this question. First, the setup that I use:

It turns out that I have 7 Kindle like things in my life. Two of them are literally Kindles, the rest are mobile phones or computers. If you trust someone, say your spouse, and want to share books with them, there is an easy way. You just have to tie the Kindles to the same Amazon account. All book purchases made through the device will be to the same credit card. This approach has a few pros and cons.

First, you must truly trust the other person. While this is typically easy for spouses, it gets a little bit harder for people that are less closely related. What about a really close friend? What about a book circle? For myself, I chose the wife only option and have not regretted it at all.

Second, the really cool background sync feature may start to work against you. If the two of you happen to be reading the same book, either together or one after another, it will keep asking to sync to the furthest page read. Amazon is setup to read through a book just one time. They don’t, to my knowledge, allow you to restart your book. Their system also occasionally makes mistakes:
If you can deal with these issues, it is possible to build a much more robust library than one person would alone. It is also easier to enjoy books together. Since, at this time, Amazon does not allow transfer of Kindle books between accounts, the key action is to setup your Kindle on the same account from the get go. Any books you purchase on the other account will only be accessible if you re-register your Kindle back to the other account. According to the Kindle support forums and eHow Share books between Kindle accounts, you can keep the books on the device after it is deregistered. That means you can flip over to someone else’s account, download a few books, and flip back. Book copies are limited to around 5 devices.

The other option is far simpler, just wait for Amazon’s soon to be released Kindle lending feature. With the first solution, two or more people can be reading at the same time. With the Amazon solution, it looks like you will give up your rights to the book for up to two weeks and someone else will gain them. Also, not all books will be available for lending. This is where the paper book analogy starts to get me. I can do this with paper. They have a new cheaper distribution mechanism, which they sometimes charge more for, and they are taking away capabilities from their customers. Grrr… For what it is worth, my book, Leading and Managing in Silicon Valley, should be able to be read aloud and shared (if not, let me know).



Jeff said...

Hey I just stumbled on your blog through a link in the forum. I thought I'd mention that you can clear the furthest page read if you want to read a book a second time.

At you click on your account and go to "manage my kindle". From there you expand the "actions" drop down next to the book you want to read and you select "clear furthest page read."

Voila! Now you can reread the same book and it will sync across all your devices with your current furthest page read instead of the end of the book from the first time you read it.

Jacob Taylor said...

I just found this feature on a blog myself. I love it. It is a little awkward when you have more than one device, but I really appreciate Amazon investing in it.

Thank you for your comment.