Stop! Before you buy your first Kindle book…

Stop! Before you buy your first Kindle book…

A lot of you have Kindles on the way.  Buying Kindle books is super-easy (maybe a little too easy). 😉  You can even buy them before your Kindle arrives. 

Just check to see if it’s registered to your account already at

If it is, you can buy books for it…but wait a minute!  There’s an important decision to make besides, “What am I going to read first?”


You have to decide on which account you want the Kindle.

See, here’s the thing. 

You can share Kindle books.

Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.  You can pay $9.99 for a bestseller from the Kindle store and share it with one hundred people (more if you like)…entirely legally…within the rules.

There’s one big restriction, though.

They have to be on your account. 

Kindle books belong to the account on which they were purchased.

It doesn’t matter if the person who bought the book, the person who paid for it, is on the account any more or not.

You can pay for it, and your kids and grandkids and coworkers and friends can all read it.

But they have to be on your account.

There’s another major limitation, and that one is set by the publisher, on a per book basis.  That’s on how many devices* you have the book simultaneously.  Yes, you can have a hundred people or more on you account.  But you can only have the book on so many devices on the account at the same time.

Unless it says otherwise on the book’s Amazon Product Page, the number of devices on which you can have the book at the same time is six.  Some books have fewer device licenses (I’ve seen as few as 1), some are unlimited (those tend to be public domain ((not under copyright protection)) or independently published through Amazon’s Digital Text Platform). 

Even if the book has one license, though, all of the people on your account can read it.  They just have to take turns…just like with a paperbook.

But let’s say your Significant Other already has a Kindle and an Amazon account.  You’ve each got your own Amazon account…it’s how the two of you keep gifts secret from each other.  🙂  Your SO has already bought twenty books before your Kindle arrives.

Here’s what you have to decide:

Are you going to put your Kindle on your SO’s account (giving you access to the twenty books previously bought, and giving you both access to the books you buy in the future), or are you going to put in on your account?

Officially, you can’t combine the accounts later.  I’ve heard about Customer Service doing that, but don’t count on it.  They don’t have to do it.

Buy a book from the Kindle store when your Kindle is not on your SO’s account, and your SO doesn’t have access to it.

Now, I know there are some of you out there jumping up and down like Arnold Horshack, saying you can share Kindle store books with people not on your account.  They register the Kindle to your account, download the book, and then deregister.

The book does not disappear from the Kindle (again, despite what you may hear from people).

That absolutely works mechanically.

But is it okay?

I don’t know.

That’s the question Amazon won’t answer for me.  I’ve asked them different ways, even snail mailing the legal department. 

Amazon is usually very responsive…I love their Kindle Customer Service!

But apparently, they decline to respond to this one.

I’ll write more about that another time.  I know it’s against the Terms of Service to sell or give a Kindle with Kindle store content on it, but for now, I’m not going to recommend the register/download/deregister thing. 

Let me stress that it could be perfectly fine: I just don’t now.

Bottom line, if you register your Kindle to an account with another Kindle on it, you can share the books for sure…no questions asked.   All the Kindle store books bought on that account will be available to all of the devices on the account through the Amazon archives…even future devices.  You can redownload the books as often as you want, to the same device or others (with that simultaneous device license limitation, of course). 

There are advantages to having it on a separate account, too, don’t get me wrong.  For one thing, the money issue is clear.  If you’re on the same account with other people, you have to work out who is paying for what.  You can switch credit cards…but only from the computer, not from the Kindle.  You can buy gift certificates…but all that’s more complicated (although not too bad).

Also, you’ll both see what the other person is buying…there might be some surprises there.  🙂

So, before you buy your first Kindle book, you need to decide…on which account will your Kindle be registered?

* Other devices on your account could include: each Kindle for PC installation (two PCs, two devices); each Kindle for Mac installation; each iPad installation; each iPhone installation; each iPod touch installation; each Blackberry installation; each Android device installation.  If you have six device licenses, and put that book on a desktop, a laptop, and a Kindle, you’ve used up three licenses.

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

2 Responses to “Stop! Before you buy your first Kindle book…”

  1. Richard Askenase Says:

    I noticed yesterday that I could not find the listing for the number of devices allowed for each book. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place, I knew where theyn were, but I can not find them now. Did Amazon change its policy or am I just dumb? Thanks for looking into this.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Richard!

      It looks the same to me. They only list Simultaneous Device Licenses if it is different than six, which is what they have been doing. I just checked, and found one that said it was unlimited and one that said “Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits”.

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