Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special book lending edition

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special book lending edition

Q. Can I loan Kindle books that I have bought to other people?

A. Yes.  Amazon enabled Kindle book lending on December 30, 2010.

Q. Do I have to get my Kindle updated to have that ability?

A. No.  Lending takes place through Amazon’s servers, and that has already been updated.  Nothing needs to happen on your Kindle.

Q. Can I lend any book I want?

A. No.  It’s up to the publisher on each book.

Q. But I bought the book, right?  I should be able to loan any book to anybody I want, just like I do with a paperbook.

A. When you buy a copy of a paperbook, that’s what you buy…that copy.  You can do anything you want with it: loan it, sell it, give it away…burn it.  When you “buy a book” in the Kindle store, you are buying a license, and are bound by the terms of the license.

Q. I don’t remember reading any license.  Where is it?

A. It’s your Terms of Service with Amazon.   Variable elements for each title will generally be on the book’s product page at Amazon.  You may also be bound by copyright law, and there may be additional rights statements in the book.

Q. Product page?

A. That’s what you get when you search for the book at Amazon.

Q. So it will tell me there whether I can loan the book?

A. It will tell you if you can loan it.  It does not mention it if you can’t.  If it’s a book you bought previously, it will tell you at the top of the page that you can lend it.  If you haven’t bought it before, it will tell you in the product details…usually about half way down the page.

Q. So I can tell before I buy the book if I can loan it?

A. Yes.  It’s on the product page.

Q. I don’t want to have to look through the store to figure out which books I’ve bought that I can loan.  Can I see that somewhere else?

A. Yes.  You can go to

Click the plus box on the row for the book.  If you can lend it, there will be a button that says “Loan this book”.

Q. I tried that, but I didn’t see a button.

A. That means you can’t lend that book.  It’s up to the publisher.

Q. How many books can be loaned?

A. That’s hard to say at this point.  Amazon hasn’t given the books a separate section in the store.  It’s probably similar to Barnes & Noble…that’s about 50% for fiction e-books. 

Q. Why would it be similar?

A. The publishers presumably offered basically the same deal to Amazon and to Barnes & Noble.   Other elements of the program are similar to Barnes & Noble’s LendMe program for their NOOK.

Q. What other elements are there?

A. You can only loan a book once.

Q. Once to the same person?

A. Once ever.  If you buy a copy of Alice In Wonderland and loan it to your mother, you can not loan it to your sister later.

Q.  But my sister and I read the same Kindle books all the time.  Does this change that?

A. No.  You are probably on the same account.  People on the same account can read the same book for a single purchase price.

Q. Does this change anything else I’ve been doing?

A. No.  You can do everything you’ve been doing before.  If you don’t choose to use the lending program, nothing is different. 

Q. Why would the publishers limit it to one time?  I can lend a paperbook as much as I want. 

A. It’s up to the publisher…they are probably concerned about losing sales if they allowed unlimited lending.

Q. Can I only lend to my family members?

A. No, you can lend to anyone you want.  It could be a complete stranger.

Q. Won’t people set up ways to do that on the internet?

A. Yes.  There are already places to do that.

Q. Won’t that cost the publishers sales?

A. It might.

Q. Does the person have to have a Kindle for me to loan the book to her or him?

A. No.  They don’t even have to have a Kindle reader app.  If they don’t have one, they’ll be directed to a place to get a reader app.

Q. Directed how?

A. When you lend a book to someone you send a special e-mail to them that has a link to the book. 

Q. How do I do that?

A. You can do that from your Manage Your Kindle page (see above) or from the book’s product page.

Q. So someone would have to have my e-mail address to lend me a Kindle book?

A. Yes.

Q. What if I don’t want to borrow it?  What if I already have it, for example?

A. You won’t be able to accept the loan if you already have gotten the book from the Kindle store.  You also won’t be able to accept the loan if the book is unavailable to your country.

Q. So, if I buy a book in the US that isn’t available in Canada, I can’t loan it to a Canadian?

A. That’s correct.

Q. Can a Canadian lend to a Canadian?

A. No.  At this time, booklending can only be initiated within the USA.

Q. What if I just don’t want to read the book?

A. If you don’t accept the loan within seven days, the book becomes available to the lender again.  They can then try to lend it to someone else.

Q. Can I refuse the loan offer so they get it back faster than the seven days?

A. It doesn’t appear so.

Q. You said “becomes available”…what does that mean?

A. When you have loaned a book to someone else, it is not available to you.  That’s similar to a paperbook.

Q. Does it disappear from my Kindle?

A. It won’t be available to you through your archives or Manage Your Kindle for download.  If it’s on your Kindle and your wireless is on, you’ll see a message that items were “removed”.  You’ll see a note next to the title in your homescreen that is “[on loan]”.   If you try to open the book, you’ll get a message that it is on loan instead of the book.

Q. You said “your wireless is on”.  If my wireless isn’t on, will I still be able to read the book on my Kindle?

A. Yes.  If you have your wireless off when you lend the book and the book is on your Kindle, you can continue to read it.   When you sync the next time, though, it will go into the “loan mode”. 

Q. So if I just don’t turn the wireless on for the two weeks of the loan, we can both read it?

A. Yes.

Q. Is that against the rules?

A. I haven’t seen anything that says that.

Q. Okay, so I can’t read a book if I’ve loaned it and I’ve had my wireless on.  How long might it be before I can read it again?

A. The person has seven days to decide about the loan, and then fourteen days to read the book, so the maximum is 20 days.

Q.  What if the person hasn’t finished the book by then?

A. The book will still be “returned” to you.

Q. What if they don’t turn the wireless on?

A. Unknown.  The book may lock itself without using the wireless.

Q. Could I loan the book to the person again so they can finish reading it?

A. No.  A book can only be loaned once.

Q. What if the person finishes the book early?  Can they return it early?

A. Yes.  They would go to that Manage Your Kindle page, click the plus next in the book’s row, and choose to delete the book.

Q. Would I be able to read it again then? 

A. Yes.

Q. How would I know I could read it again.

A. You’ll get an e-mail.  You can also go to that Manage Your Kindle site to check on the status of the loan.  You’ll see if the loan has been accepted, and if it has, when it will run out.  A borrower can go there too, to see how long the loan is.

Q. Is there any kind of warning that the loan is going to end?

A. Yes.  The borrower will get a “courtesy notice” on her or his Kindle three days before it ends.

Q. Does Barnes & Noble have this fourteen day limit, too?

A. Yes.

Q. What if the person didn’t finish the book, or just liked it, and wants to buy it?  Is there an easy way to do that?

A. Yes. Clicking on a book you have borrowed in your Archived Items will bring up a link to buy the book (once the loan has ended).

Q. Does this have anything to do with borrowing books from a public library?

A. No.

Q. So, if I don’t want to use this, I don’t have to use it.  If I loan a book to somebody, I can only loan a book once, and I can’t read it while it is on loan unless I keep the wireless off…is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Where is the information from Amazon on this?


Q. I published a book through Amazon’s Digital Text Platform.  What do I need to do to make my book lendable?

A. It’s lendable now.  If your book is in the 70% royalty program, you have to allow lending.  If your book is in the 35% royalty program, you have to go to the Digital Text Platform site and opt out of it for each title, under Rights and Pricing

Q. If I opt out, what happens to loans that are already happening?

A. Opting out will only affect future purchases.  For more information on your DTP publications and lending, see

DTP book lending help

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions.

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

8 Responses to “Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special book lending edition”

  1. Mike Southerland Says:

    This answer is slightly off:
    Q. But I bought the book, right? I should be able to loan any book to anybody I want, just like I do with a paperbook.

    A. When you buy a copy of a paperbook, that’s what you buy…that copy. You can do anything you want with it: loan it, sell it, give it away…burn it. When you “buy a book” in the Kindle store, you are buying a license, and are bound by the terms of the license.

    You really can’t do “anything you want” with a paper book. I can’t scan it, turn it into an ebook, and charge people for it (or even give it away for that matter). I can’t take it to a copy machine and make a paper copy of the entire book and do the same thing I mentioned above. I can’t rip the cover off of it, slap my name on it, and resell it as if it were mine.

    I can’t record myself reading it and sell the audiobook.

    Of course, I could do all these things if the book is in the public domain. (not sure about claiming credit for it!) But then again, you could also do that with public domain e-books.

    So, my point is that there is an implicit “license” with a hard copy book as well. It is the copyright law.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mike!

      Your point is an excellent one, and you made it well.

      I’ve written about that precise thing before…when I write these questions, I write them the way that I’ve seen them expressed…and that’s the way I’ve seen people ask it. Okay, I do take some creative license to make the piece flow well 🙂 , but I haven’t seen anybody cite the restrictions in Copyright Law when asking about why the e-book lending in the Kindle store is limited to one person.

      You’ll notice in the answer that I used the key phrase “…a copy of a paperbook”. That’s what many people don’t understand: they think they’ve bought the contents, not the container.

      I appreciate you wanting to clarify it. That suggests that I may need to explain a bit more about the way I write these.

      As to your question: could you claim to have written a book that was written by someone else? If you charged for it, that would be fraud (misrepresenting something for financial gain).

      So, I’m happy that you made this comment…but my answer is correct about that copy of the book, which is what I referenced. All of the things you indicate would use the copy as a basis for something else…it’s the other things that would be infringing, not what you had done with the original copy.

  2. Catherine Says:

    Fantastic post!

  3. Martin Says:

    Is it possible to borrow more than one book at a time with Kindle lending?

    I have seen posts in social media from people that are loaning out multiple titles but I haven’t yet heard of anyone borrowing several at once.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Martin!

      Yes, that’s fine. I’ve loaned one person two books at the same time, when I was testing the system. Well, it actually took two actions, but the person had both loaned books at the same time.

      Your two week time starts from the acceptance, though. If you borrowed more books than you could complete in those two weeks, they would be returned before you finished them…although that might require that you had turned on Whispernet.

  4. rickd785 Says:

    I have an audiobook in archive but I can’t access it.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, rickd785!

      Tell me a bit more: do you have an Audible account? What version of Kindle do you have?

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