Simultaneous Device Licenses from the Kindle store

Simultaneous Device Licenses from the Kindle store

I’ve written before about the archives at Amazon and about shared accounts (both of which come into play here), but I do still see a lot of confusion about simultaneous device licenses.

So, I thought I’d do a post specifically about that concept.  I apologize in advance for my images…not my area of strength, but I know it helps some people get it.

When you buy a book from the Kindle store, you get a certain number of “simultaneous  device licenses”.  That is the number of devices for which the book can be licensed at the same time by you.

The default number of licenses is six:

Books in the Kindle store typically come with 6 simultaneous device licenses

That means that when you buy the book, you are allowed to put it on six devices registered to your account at the same time.  You don’t actually do it all at once…you download for one and then another, but if you have six licenses, you have to stop at six devices until you free a license (see below).

Books can have any number of simultaneous devices licenses from one (rare) to unlimited (public domain titles may have this, as well as the minority of books where the independent publisher has chosen to do them without DRM…Digital Rights Management). 

If the number is other than six, it will say so on the book’s Amazon product page.  If the number is six, they actually don’t say it on the page.  If you don’t see a simultaneous device license number, it is six.

When you buy the book, you specify a device for which it is intended (licensing the book for that device).  It will typically download wirelessly to that device at that time.  You can download it to your computer instead for transfer to the Kindle later, if you don’t have a wireless connection available.

That device gets one of your licenses.

That leaves you with five licenses.  Those go into your Amazon archives. 

The other devices registered to your account can download the book (using up a license each time).

They can find the books that are available to them through the Archived Items (in the homescreen on the Kindle: it could be in the menu or on a button on the Kindle reader apps).

Note that the Archived Items list on the device won’t show items that are already on that specific device.  It shows you what books are available for download to that device from the archives, and if you already have a book on there at that time, you can’t put it on there twice.

You can also go to

and send the books from there to the devices on your account.

Again, each time you license a book for a device, you eliminate one license.

Let’s say you download the book from your archives for a second Kindle, a Kindle for PC installation, and a Kindle for Android installation.

Downloading for different devices

You would have used four licenses: the one you did originally when you bought the book, and the other devices.

You have two licenses left in your archives and you try to download for one more after that (the seventh)?

You’ll get a message telling you that you can’t do that.

Does that mean you can only have it on six devices ever?

Nope.  🙂

If you remove the book from one of your devices and then sync with Amazon

Home-Menu-Sync & Check for Items

you’ll free up the license.

That license will go back to your archives, and be available to other devices on your account. 

Delete a book then sync & check and you free a license

You can remove the book from a Kindle by right-clicking on the title in your homescreen, and choosing Remove from Device.  The reader apps may use other methods, like right-clicking or “long-touching” or possibly using a menu.

Remove it from the device, sync with Amazon and you free the license.

It’s against your Terms of Service with Amazon to sell or give away (to someone not on your account) your Kindle with Kindle store content on it.  Just make sure you Sync & Check before you give it away or sell it (after deleting the content), so Amazon knows you’ve freed the license and can return it to your archives.

What happens if your Kindle is lost/stolen/fails?  How do you regain that license?

Contact Kindle Customer Service:

Let them know what happened: they can restore your license.

Those are the basics.

Remember that this only works with Kindle store books, not books from other sources or personal documents.  That’s one of the big advantages of getting books from the Kindle store…you get the Kindle service.

It does work with some other items from the Kindle store as well, although it won’t work if the device can’t use the item at all.

For example, it works for active content, like games, but not for the reader apps or the Kindle 1.

It works for issues of magazines and newspapers, but currently only for the Kindles and Android phones (and only certain ones on the Android phone, I believe).

There are some rare variations.  If you bought a book from the Kindle store and it turns out the book had to be removed by Amazon for legal reasons (such as it infringing on someone’s rights), they have to remove it from the cloud (your archives) as well.  If you have local copies (copies you have downloaded to a device), Amazon won’t remove those…but you won’t be able to download from the cloud to any of your devices again.

I think this ability is one of the best things about the Kindle store.  It’s a much better arrangement for us than buying a paperbook, since four people in our family can read the same book at the same time for one download price…even in different places.  I used the number four, because that’s what we actually have…you could typically have six for simultaneous reading, and an unlimited number for sequential reading. 

Let me know if you have any questions about this.  Also, if you’d like to comment about this use of graphics, I’d appreciate that.  I assume some of you are going to like it…but I want to judge whether or not it’s worth the effort in the future.

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

7 Responses to “Simultaneous Device Licenses from the Kindle store”

  1. Paul Lee Says:

    Thanks for this information, it was really helpful. Do you know, is there any way to sync a personal document among all of my units (like the Kindle and My PC)? I haven’t been able to figure out how to do this.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Paul!

      I’m glad you found it useful!

      You can not use Amazon to sync personal documents. Whispersync is part of the Kindle service you get when you buy a book from the Kindle store.

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  4. Julia Says:

    Thanks for the info! The graphics ere really helpful and showed up nicely on the Kindle!

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Julia!

      That’s useful to hear! Thanks for taking the time to let me me know. 🙂

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