Amazon Customer Service on selling your Kindle with Kindle books still on it

UPDATE: Amazon has reversed the policy reported in this post.  See the updated post here.

I just got off the phone with Jason at Amazon Kindle Customer Service.

There has been a lot of debate and (let’s just say it) argument about whether or not you could, under the Terms of Service, sell a Kindle with Kindle store books on it.

People have even specifically pointed out that it would raise the value of the Kindle.

I’ve asked by e-mail before, and haven’t gotten an answer, so I thought I’d call.

I specifically asked if selling a Kindle with Kindle store books on it would violate the Terms of Service.

Jason had to consult with someone else.  He came back and said that it was “a bit of a gray area”, but that it would not violate the TOS.

That’s important.

When you buy books from the Kindle store, you choose a specific device (a Kindle, iPhone, or iPod touch, currently) to which to send it.  Let’s say you sent it to “Pat’s Kindle”. 

It will be stored on that device.  It will also be stored in your Amazon archives, and you can send it from the archives to other devices on your account.

If you sell the device, even if you deregister the device (which you would), your local copy won’t disappear.  That’s true even after a Whispernet sync (where you connect with Amazon’s servers).

So, you could put thirty bestsellers and a hundred other new books on there, and sell the Kindle to somebody for, oh, five hundred.  Is that okay?

According to Jason, yes.  I specifically pointed out that people are concerned about the part in the Terms of Service where it says you can’t distribute the content, and mentioned that people weren’t clear if this would be distribution.   Jason still said this was okay.

Jason nicely pointed out that the new person, of course, would not have access to the archived version of it (since that’s on another account).  The new buyer couldn’t put it on other devices on their account legitimately, and when that Kindle died (knock virtual wood), they couldn’t download it to a new Kindle. 

I’d recommend backing up your Kindle book files (just copy them to a computer), but I always recommend that.  There may be two files: one ending in .azw, .azw1, or .tpz, and one ending in .mbp or .tan.  Copy them all, if you want your notes and such.

I asked in a bit of a throwaway if it would reduce the original owner’s number of device licenses.  Okay, I know that’s a bit geeky, but when you buy a book from the Kindle store, you get a specified amount of devices on to which you can download it (most commonly six). 

Let’s say you had six devices on the account, and you had downloaded the same six-license book on to all of them (which you can usually do for one purchase price).  You sell one of those Kindles with the book on it, and replace it.  Can you download it again on to your new Kindle with no additional purchase price?

Amazon says:

“…you must first deregister and delete the content from the device you wish to replace before you can access the content in question from your new device.”

[emphasis added]

My interpretation of what what Jason said, is that if you did not delete it first, you would not be able to download it to the new device.  I don’t think that would be necessarily enforced technically, but it makes some sense to me.

So, it sounds like you could no longer have it on six devices on your account simultaneously if it had been downloaded from your account originally and you got rid of one of your devices with the book on it.

I would love to see Amazon put this in writing somewhere, but I thought people would appreciate hearing what I heard.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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