Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special shared accounts edition

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special shared accounts edition

Q. I have a Kindle and I’m thinking of getting my Signficant Other one.  If I do that, can we both read the books I buy?

A. Yes.  As long as both Kindles are registered to the same account, they’ll both have access to all of the Kindle store books bought on that account.

Q. Does that include books I bought before I got the second Kindle?

A. Yes. 

Q. Do all those books download automatically to the new one?  We don’t like all of the same things.

A. No.  They’ll be available to the new device, but your Significant Other can pick which ones actually are put on to it.

Q. What if we do want all of them on there?  Can we send them all at once?

A. No.  You make your choices one at a time.

Q. Can I just move the files from one Kindle to the other, using the USB cable?

A. No.  When you download a book from the Kindle store, you tell Amazon for which device you are downloading it.  The file you get is keyed for that one device.  If you put that file all another device, it won’t be able to read it.

Q. But I thought you said the books are available to the new Kindle?

A. They are, but you need to download a new copy of the file keyed for the new device.

Q. Is there a charge for that?

A. No.

Q. Do all of the files from the Kindle store work that way?

A. Almost all of them.  The others are independently-published books that don’t have that “keying”, called DRM (Digital Rights Management).  That’s only a few books, though.

Q. Do I have to understand that DRM thing to put my books on my Significant Other’s Kindle?

A. Not when it’s on the same account.

Q. How do I put it on the same account?

A. When you register, use the same e-mail address and password that you use for your Kindle.

Q. Does my Significant Other have to know the password?

A. No.  You can register the Kindle.

Q. Where do I do that?

A. Either from the Kindle itself (Home-Menu-Settings) or at

Q. How do I prove to Amazon that my Significant Other and I are in the same household?

A. You don’t have to do that.  You can put anybody you want on the same account.

Q. They don’t have to be part of my family?

A. No. 

Q. What stops me from getting a bunch of people from work and registering their Kindles to my account, so we can all share books?

A. Nothing.  That’s okay to do.

Q. I thought I heard somewhere that you could only have six Kindles on an account.  Is that true?

A. No.  There is no limit as to how many Kindles you can register to an account.  The limit is on how many Kindles  on the account can have the same book licensed for them at the same time.

 Q. So you are saying I could have one hundred Kindles on the same account?

A. Yes.  They don’t have to all be Kindles.  They could include free reader apps, like Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac, and so on.

Q. What about a NOOK or an iPad?

A. NOOKs can not read Kindle books. There is an app for an iPad.

Q. So, you said something about only six Kindles having a book.  Is that six ever or six at the same time?

A. Six at the same time.

Q. If I have one hundred Kindles on the same account, we can all read the same book for one purchase price, like $9.99?

A. Yes.  Not at the same time, usually.

Q. Usually?

A. The default number of “simultaneous device licenses” is six.  If it’s different from that, it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page.  Some books have fewer: some are unlimited.

Q.  Unlimited?  So all one hundred Kindles could have the same book at the same time?

A. Yes.  Those are often public domain titles, not under copyright.

Q. What’s the lowest number of simultaneous device licenses?

A. One.

Q. Have you ever seen a book with one simultaneous device license?

A. Yes.

Q. Why aren’t they all the same?

A. The publisher sets it on a title by title basis.

Q. It’s not up to Amazon?

A. No.

Q.  What happens when I’ve used all the device licenses and I try to put the book on another device?

A. You’ll get a message telling you can’t.

Q. So I can only have it on six devices ever?

A. No.  You can release the license from one device to use on another one on the account.

Q. How do I release the license?

A. Remove the book from the Kindle and sync with Amazon so they know you did.

Q. How do I remove the book from the Kindle? 

A. On any Kindle except a Kindle 1, get to the title and click right.  You’ll see a choice to remove it from the device.

Q. Is that the same as deleting?

A. No.  If you see a choice to delete, it isn’t a book from the Kindle store.  If you delete it, it won’t be backed up for you by Amazon.

Q.  What do I do if I have a Kindle 1?

A. Get to the book in the homescreen and hit the backspace button.

Q. Okay.  So, I can have as many devices on the same account as I want, and we can all read the Kindle store books for the same price, but we might have to wait for somebody else to delete and sync with Amazon, right?

A. Yes.

Q. How do we download the books?

A. You can get them from any Kindle except a Kindle 1 by going to the Archived Items.  Any book that is not on that Kindle will be in the Archived Items.

Q. It won’t be in the archives if it’s on that Kindle?

A. It wil be in the archives at Amazon, but it won’t show on the Archived Items on that device.

Q. So two Kindles on the same account might have a different number of books in the Archived Items?

A. Yes, depending on how many are on that device.

Q. My archives don’t seem right.  I bought a book using a different Kindle, but it isn’t showing in my Archived Items.

A. The Kindle doesn’t know what is in the archives until it syncs with Amazon.  If things don’t look right, do a sync: Home-Menu-Sync & Check for Items.

Q. I restarted once and lost all the books in my Archived Items, but they came back later…what happened?

A. When the Kindle restarted, it forgot which books were in the archives.  It had to connect to Amazon again to find out.

Q. I do all the computer stuff for my Significant Other.  Is there a way I can just send the books to my Significant Other’s Kindle?

A. Yes.  Go to .  You’ll see a way to search for titles you have purchased, and to send them to a particular Kindle.

Q. I might put my child on my account.  Can I control which books my kid can get from the Archives?

A. While the Kindle is on the account, it can see all of the books in the archives.  You can’t choose which ones each Kindle sees.

Q. But I don’t want my child to see certain books I’ve bought.  What can I do?

A. The Kindle won’t see the archives while it is deregistered.  You could download the books you want your child to see, then deregister the Kindle. 

Q. The books won’t disappear when it is deregisted?

A. No.  They won’t go away until they are removed from the device.  But the Kindle won’t have access to the account’s archives while it is deregistered.

Q. How do I put more books on it?

A. Re-register it to the account and download the books you want.

Q. Is it okay with Amazon to keep registering it and deregistering like that?

A. They haven’t said.  I’ve asked them several ways, and they’ve never answered.

Q. But I won’t get in trouble?

A. Not as far as I know.

Q. So, I can sell or give away a Kindle with Kindle store books on it?

A. No.  That’s against the Terms of Service.

Q. Isn’t that what’s happening when I put books on a Kindle for my child and then deregister it?

A. No.  The ownership of the Kindle isn’t changing.

Q. Okay.  So when the Kindle isn’t on the account any more, it can’t get to the archives?

A. Right.

Q. Can a Kindle be on more than one account at once?

A. No.

Q. That means I can’t have my Kindle on my family’s account and on my work’s account?

A. That’s right…only one account at a time.

Q. What if I want to put someone else on the account who already bought books on a different account?  Can we combine the two accounts and have access to the books we both bought before?

A. Not officially, but I’ve heard about it happening.  If you want to check a specific case, contact Kindle Customer Service at .

Q. I think I’ve got it, then.  I can have one hundred people on my account, or more, and we can all read the same book for one purchase price, but probably not at the same time?

A. That’s right.

Q. That sounds great!  Hey, who pays for the books?

A. There are several ways to arrange that.

Q. Can we have different credit cards for different people?

A. All Kindle store books are bought with 1-click.  You set that up in your account. 

Q. I can’t switch credit cards when I’m checking out?

A. With 1-click, you don’t check out.  You just buy the book by clicking a button.

Q. So we all have to use the same credit card?

A. No.  You can switch credit cards on your computer, but not on your Kindles.  You’d have to switch it before each purchase.  You do that in the Your Account link at Amazon.

Q. You said there was more than one way?

A. Yes.  Now that Kindle book gift-giving is available, one person could gift a book to someone else on the account.  The giver can pay for it however they want to do that.  The recipient will get an e-mail with a link to get the book: the giver will have paid for it.

Q. I wouldn’t be able to read the book until the recipient clicked on the link?

A. That’s right.

Q. That still seems pretty good.  My credit card would be on the account, but if I put my friend on the account, they could still buy books with their own credit card?

A. Yes.

Q. Any other ways?

A. Yes.  You can also buy gift cards/certificates for the account.  Let’s say you have the password.  Someone else on the account could buy you gift certificates for the books they want to get.

Q. Can I limit those gift cards so they are used just for Kindle books?

A. No.  When you get a gift card, you apply it to your Amazon account.  Any 1-click purchases, whether for a Kindle book or not, will draw from that gift card balance before going to the credit/debit card on the account.

Q. So, if I bought a t-shirt with my 1-click, it would drain the gift card balance?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay, I see how we could both pay for books.  What happens if one of us leaves the account?  Do they just lose the books they bought?

A. They lose access to the archives.  If they have books on their Kindle, those books will remain on the device.  But if they get a new Kindle, they will not be able to put those books on the new device.

Q. That sounds like it’s kind of risky to go on someone else’s account, right?

A. That’s right.  You need to figure out how you will deal with that situation.

Q. Do I have to give everybody on my account the password?

A. No.  The only people who need the password are the people who are going to “manage” the account.  Those people will register and deregister the Kindles, change the credit cards, and so on.  The other people are “users”.  They can buy books through their Kindles.  They can also gift books to the Managers. 

Q. If I die, can the users get to the books?

A. No.  They need the password.  You might want to make sure someone has the credentials (e-mail and password) in the event of your death. 

Q. Can I will the books to someone else?

A. If someone has the username and password they won’t need the books to be willed to them.

Q. But could I will them to someone?

A. Unknown.

Q. Does this only work with books?  What about games and magazines?

A. Games you buy should be in the archives and available to other Kindles on the account.  Back issues of magazines and newspapers will appear in the Archived Items of other compatible devices on the account, so it works with those, too.  That’s fairly new.

Q. So we can have one subscription the New York Times and read it on more than one Kindle?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I read it on my iPad?

A. You can only read magazines and newspapers through the Kindle store on Kindles and Android devices currently, and the back issue will only appear for those devices.  Amazon says they will be making them available to other devices in the future.

Q. Can I download the games to my Kindle 1?

A. No, that’s not a compatible device for the active content in the Kindle store.  Some “games” are really just books, and those will work.

Q. This all seems to good to be true.  Do the publishers know about it?

A. They set the number of simultaneous device licenses, so they know.

Q. Why doesn’t Amazon advertise this more?  It seems like such a good deal.

A. You’d have to ask them.  😉


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


24 Responses to “Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special shared accounts edition”

  1. sara smith Says:

    Very helpful and clear

  2. Brett Says:

    Wonderful post – thorough, succinct, and nicely written. Much appreciated.

  3. Mike Southerland Says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and it seems like I remember reading the answer to this question, but I can’t seem to find it on your site. Maybe you could add it into this posting. My question is, once I copy the collections from one Kindle on my account to another, is there a way to automatically have books go to the correct collection when they are sent to the new Kindle? I have recently bought my son a K3 for his birthday. It’s still unwrapped in a box at home (I don’t think he’ll be reading this blog…as he’s only turning 7 🙂 ) Anyway, I have used the “manage my Kindle” to send all the books on the account that I want him to have on his. I also know that when I help him set it up, I’ll choose the “Copy the collections from another device” option. Is there a particular order that this needs to be done in order to have those books automatically drop into the correct collections? A friend of mine tried this with a replacement Kindle that he had, and he told me he had to manually add all his books back into the correct collection. I’m thinking that I’ve read that there is a way to avoid this if you do it right. Is that correct?

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mike!

      First, download the books to the Kindle as you have done. Then, import the Collections from the other device.

      The Collection on your son’s Kindle and the old collection are separate at that point (it’s an import, not a link).

      Let’s say you had five books on cats and five book on dogs, and you had put them into Dog and Cat Collections on Kindle A.

      When you get Kindle B, you only download three of the books on dogs, and all five of the books on cats.

      Then, you import the Collections from Kindle A.

      Those books on Kindle B will go into the correct Collections.

      Later, you download one of the dog books to Kindle B which you hadn’t downloaded previousy. It will not automatically go into the Dog Collection, even though that’s where it is on Kindle A.

      You could, however, import the Collections from Kindle A again.

      The mistake people make is they import the Collections and then download the books…that will not place the books into the Collections.

      Let me know if you need more help with that.

  4. 5 Kindle Accounts Sites | TechBrief Says:

    […] my Kindle to her account. Or have her e-mail the books Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special shared accounts edition .Feb 17, 2011 Q. I thought I heard somewhere that you could only have six Kindles on an account. Is […]

  5. k forbes Says:

    Hey does the kindle have a narrotor

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      thanks for writing, k.!

      I assume you mean text-to-speech? All Kindles do except for

      The Kindle 1
      The new $79/$109 Kindle (which doesn’t do any audio)
      The Kindle Fire

      I typically use it for hours a week in my car.

  6. paulette Says:

    bOUGHT a kindle from you have you registerd’ it wont let us and he paid 149. cant learn anything from it HELP

  7. Susan Says:

    Thank you very much. I finally have my question answered on the number of books that can be read at one time

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Susan!

      Great! I’m glad that was helpful for you! 🙂 It’s a complicated, not well-understood service.

  8. RonnieC Says:

    Thanks for putting so much effort into this writeup. I found it extremely helpful. One question – now that I am going to register 2 new Kindle Fires for my 2 kids under my account, does the 1-click allow them to purchase content freely or is that password-protected? I am scared that I will find a multi-thousand dollar Amazon charge for kid’s stuff the day after Christmas!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, RonnieC!

      What great gifts!

      You can turn off the 1-click purchasing. I’ll have a post up on parental controls in the next couple of days (it’s already scheduled), but basically, you swipe down from the top of the screen, choose More, then Parental Controls.

  9. Nancy grenda Says:

    Ii let my sister in law borrow my kindle..she is now in va and i am in fl…i cannot get my kindle paperwhite to open to the book i was i need to get my kindle back?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Nancy!

      When you say your sister-in-law borrowed your Kindle, I assume it is still on your account?

      You don’t need to take it back, but let’s go through a couple of things.

      Another device on your account would not affect your Paperwhite still being on the same book, if you let the Paperwhite go to sleep while you have the book open. If that’s what is happening, something else is going on.

      Another device on your account can affect where you are when the e-book opens. That’s due to something called Whispersync, which synchronizes your position across devices…read to page 100 on your Kindle, it opens the book to page 100 on your phone. Whispersync is great when the same person is reading the same book on multiple devices, but not good when different people are reading the same book on different devices.

      You can turn Whispersync off by going to

      and clicking or tapping

      Manage Your Devices

      Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you’ll see the choice.

      If that doesn’t resolve the problem, feel free to post again.

  10. asdfg Says:

    Q. I am trying to buy a book an my kindle but i can’t find it on my homescreen?

  11. Darryl Simon Says:

    How do I get rid of devices I no longer use? I can’t download any more books until I get rid of some devices..It says I have 3 devices, but I only use 1.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Darryl!

      There is no limit to the number of devices you can have registered to an account, so you don’t need to get rid of any.

      What may be happening here is that you’ve run into the Simultaneous Device Limit on a particular title. That’s set by the publishers on each title. Unless it says otherwise on the book’s Amazon product page, that number (the number of devices on the account that can have the title licensed at the same time) is six. Some books have lower, and three is certainly possible.

      You can deregister devices, if you want, at


      Manage Your Devices

      Something you may find there is that you may have a reader app showing up multiple times. That happens sometimes when the app updates. Again, you don’t need to deregister those extra ones, but you can if you want to do that. Rename them so you can tell which is which: look at your device to see which one you are currently using.

  12. Donna Says:

    I made an account on my kindle for my son and I don’t know how to switch from my profile to his. I know how to manage it, but how do I switch to it?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Donna!

      From what you are saying, I’m guessing that you made a profile in FreeTime, rather than a separate account (with a different e-mail address and, perhaps, payment methods)?

      If so, Freetime is an app on your device…at least in my version, it has a picture of a child with a kite. Launch the app, and you’ll see from there. 🙂

  13. Brian Grimshaw Says:

    myself and my wife share my account, dose the books she orders fill the available space on my kindle.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Brian!

      Only if you choose to download them to your device.

      Think of it this way:

      When either of you buy a book on the account, Amazon stores it in the Cloud…sort of like putting it into a library in your house. However, it isn’t really a copy of a book: it’s a blueprint, and they can print more copies of the book for you whenever you want (usually up to six at a time).

      If your wife buys it from her device, a copy goes to her device…and the blueprint goes into the library. Depending on the types of Kindles, you may see the cover on your device, but that’s just to make it easy for you to download it if you want to do that.

      Bottom line: you can both buy as many books as you want and it won’t affect the storage on the other person’s device…unless they choose to download it.

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