Should you own two Kindles?

Should you own two Kindles?

Okay, this one may seem ridiculous at first. Many people still see EBRs (E-Book Readers) as a luxury. I’m amused that suddenly $114 seems inexpensive…I think if the Kindle had been introduced at $100 (instead of about $400), I don’t think we’d see that as cheap. People act like paying $100 for a “gadget” is like getting a meal at a fast food drive-through. 😉

However, for people like me who spent hundreds of dollars a year on paperbooks (and have been able to replace that with significantly less expensive e-books…not everybody does, it depends on your reading patters), the Kindle (even at $399) made economic sense. For the investment for the device, we saved money on the books. That’s been especially true for me with the public domain freebies: i was buying those kinds of books before. That doesn’t count additional savings, such as reduced storage costs.

Many people immediately respond to that with the idea that they didn’t get the Kindle to save money, they got it for convenience or for other advantages (like the increaseable text sizes).  That’s fine…I have saved money with my Kindle…If you haven’t but there are other things that make it worthwhile, great.

If one Kindle will save you money, will two save you more?


I started thinking about this now with a relative (who was on our account) who was upgrading from a Kindle 1 to a Kindle 3. One of the main drivers for that was that the Kindle 3 has the Cyrillic character set (for reading Russian text, for one thing).

The Kindle 1 had been on our account, which practically means access to thousands of titles. All Kindle store books bought on an account are available to all the devices on the account.

This relative wanted to have the new Kindle on a new account. I was a little hesitant…it seemed to make sense to me that we would all be building a giant library to share, but I understood that desire to start a library. People used to say that owning a home was the “American Dream”, but I always thought owning a library would be cooler. 😉

Simple solution…leave the Kindle 1 on our account.

That way, my relative can read the new books on the Kindle 3 and our library (which keeps growing) on the Kindle 1.

We can’t read the books that my relative buys on the new account (unless they are lendable), but that’s okay.

A lot of people actually end up with two Kindles that way: they upgrade to a newer model and keep the old one.

They could give that first Kindle away, of course, and some do. If you give it to someone who is on your account, that gives you more buying power for the shared library. You could donate it to a school or other organization. I think, though, that some people have a sentimental attachment to it, and some people don’t want to give the older version.

Anyway, that got me thinking.

Let’s say your employer is buying a bunch of Kindle store books related to your job (maybe computer programming, as an example). The employer lets any employee register a Kindle (or app) to that company account so they can read the books.

You already own a Kindle…but you don’t want to register it to that account. A Kindle can only be registered to one account at a time, and you want access to your library…and the work library…at the same time.

You could hypothetically deregister your Kindle from your account and register to the other one, download the one book (or more than one), deregister it, reregister to your account.

You’ll still have that local copy on your device.

Not too long ago, I wrote about Amazon saying that deregistering your Kindle would remove all the content. I suggested at the time that it might be an error on the Help page…and they have now changed what it says. When I wrote about it last time, it said:

“Deregistering the Kindle will remove all content from the device.”

They’ve updated that: it now says

“…once the Kindle is deregistered, any books, subscriptions, or other content you’ve purchased from the Kindle Store will no longer be delivered to the device.”

Whew! That’s the way we’ve understood it to work. The Register/Deregister Dance (R/DD) is safe. 😉

However, you might want to access those two full libraries without going through that whole register/deregister thing.

You could have two Kindles…one for work, one for home.

Your company could provide you with one, of course, but let’s say they don’t. Would you spend $114 (the currently lowest-priced Kindle, which is ad-supported) to get to those books?

That’s not much, compared to the cost for computer books.

You might have to wait to get some books you want…if there were a hundred employees in the programming department, and the book only had six simultaneous device licenses, it’s like the company only has six copies they can lend out at a time.

I can really see that working, though.

What if there was a science fiction club? You could join it, register your Kindle bought for that purpose, and read all the books the club has bought. My guess is that it would be within the Terms of Service for you to be paying an annual membership fee for the club…I’m not sure it would be okay for them to charge for specific access to the library, though.

Of course, if you change jobs or they kick you out of the club, you’d lose access to the archives for those books.

I know some people also keep an old Kindle as a back-up. Kindle do fail, and it might take Amazon a couple of days to get you a replacement.

Hmmm….could I still use of my bookshelves, but just have Kindles on it? 🙂 I could put different skins on them to tell them apart.

Some of this may change when we get Kindle for the Web doing full books, which has been announced. Since you would be reading in the browser, you wouldn’t need to register your specific device, presumably. That means you could log into the website for different accounts. As the browser improves on reflective screen devices, this will become more practical.

What do you think? Do you already personally have more than one Kindle (not for other people)? Do you have Kindles and apps registered to different accounts? Would buying a second Kindle just be decadent? Feel free to let me know…

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

17 Responses to “Should you own two Kindles?”

  1. Mary Says:

    I have had two Kindles ever since the Kindle 2 showed up. I kept the Kindle 1 for a spare because my daughter is on my account and it seemed a good idea to have a spare in case something happened to either. After I got a K3, I gave the K1 to another family member and it is still on the account. So now I had a K2 as a spare. At that point, I asked my daughter if she wanted to switch to it but she said her K1 was fine. Recently the K1 was acting up so I gave her the K2 to use and took back the wonky K1. After fooling around with it and emptying it of a lot of extraneous content, it was no longer wonky so that is now the spare. By the way, she likes the K2 better than the K1 which is understandable.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mary!

      I appreciate you sharing that, and I really understand that process. 🙂

  2. draegi Says:

    Have to say, new vistas of possibilities opened up to me when you suggested a sci-fi club with a single account. That’s actually a really good idea, although I suppose it isn’t too far from what the libraries do.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, draegi!

      It’s a little tricky if it is a bunch of strangers. The hard part at this point would be to know who ordered what, in case they violated ordering guidelines. You might assume they would only order for their own Kindles, but of course, I could order for yours…and then just download it to mine. There would also be the risk of being kicked out of the club…twenty people who knew (and trusted each other) could do it easily.

  3. Crystal Davis Says:

    I bought a second Kindle 2 when Woot ran that special, thinking I would give to my mother. Couldn’t do it. So I bought a third one to give to my mother.

    The really, really irritating thing about having multiple devices is that “buy with one-click” defaults to the last Kindle you bought. I want MY Kindle to be the default, so that would mean keeping #3 and giving away #1 or #2. The first Kindle I bought, though, has just my user ID with no number extension as the email address and I think that’s kind of cool. So I guess Mom is going to get Kindle #2.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Crystal!

      i can remove that irritation for you. 🙂

      It doesn’t default to the last Kindle you bought: it defaults to the first Kindle alphabetically.

      You can rename the Kindle at

      Just rename your Kindle starting AA or something along those lines.

  4. Karen Says:

    I have one of EACH – a Kindle 2 (International) my first kindle; a DX (US) and a Kindle 3 with SO. I have designated the DX (grabbed it as a refurb for a special price with Amazon Prime a while back) for any classics, anything with illustrations, and all my non-fiction. I use the K2 as a back-up now, and am sharing those two with my daughter as she loves the classics and word games. I keep the K3 for my current fiction reading, and I bought it because I was interested in the special offers. I concentrate on aquiring free and low price titles and have over 1,000 books on my acct, plus a few hundred freebies from non-Amazon sources. I felt that I should get rid of the DX, as it is outdated and clunky, but it has more than paid for itself, and it is still valuable for the uses we are putting it to.

    I am a reading addict, needless to say, and the expense of my gadgets is only exceeded by the thousands of dollars I have spent of paper books over the years. I still have most of those books.Trying to part with them to regain the acres of space they are occupying in my home was a the first justification I had for getting a Kindle in Dec. 2009. A slow painful sorting is going on, but I keep getting distracted by the next batch of free books I download!

  5. Crystal Davis Says:

    OMG! It works! Thank you so much!!

  6. Rivery Says:

    We are working on that shelf of readers too :). I have a K1, K2, and A K3. My husband has the Kso and we won’t mention the other brands. I use my K2 to carry with me because it has Sprint and we have better Sprint coverage in our area. My K3 I use at home. My K1 I load up with books and lend it to a friend who is not on our account. She can’t loan them to me unless they have the lend feature but that is OK, pay back for all the years she was doing most of the lending.

  7. Mark Says:

    Hard to believe but I have three Kindles.

    The K2 was my first and it is too sentimental to sell or give away. When I bought the K3 I offered it to family members but they turned it down because they like real books. I recently bought K3wSO because I was curious about the special offers.

    I have a question for you: I keep my entire library on my K2 and it is feeling the strain of having so many books. If I put all the books on one of my K3s and it is lost or stolen, will I loose a license to all the books that are on it? I have over a thousand free books and over five hundred paid books so I don’t think if I said to Amazon customer service I had every book I paid money for on the lost Kindle they would be able to manually do anything about it.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mark!

      First, just to be clear for others reading this, you typically have multiple device licenses for one title. When you license the books for an additional device, that uses up one of those licenses.

      Typically what happens is that when you delete a book from a Kindle and then Sync & Check with Amazon, that license is made available to other devices on your account.

      In the case of a Kindle that is lost/stolen/fails, though, you can’t delete and then Sync & Check.

      In that case, I would contact Kindle Customer Service, starting here:

      They have a record of which titles have been licensed for which devices, presumably, so they should be able to release the licenses.

      I could see them saying that you should contact them as you max out the licenses on individual titles, but it seems more convenient for both if they just released all of the licenses at once.

  8. Liz Says:

    If I were involved in the scenario you posited wherein the employer has several work-related books in the Kindle format, but is not providing devices to the employees, I wonder if it would make sense to set up a Kindle for PC (or Mac) for that account, rather than plunking down more of your hard-earned cash on something that THE MAN should have provided in the first place (you recognize the attempts at humor here, right?).

    Which brings up a question I’ve had at the back of my mind: is it possible to have access to multiple Kindle accounts on a single PC or Mac? Could I share my library with my folks, and read their books, without having to put the whole clan in a single account? We could have a family web library! Charlotte would be proud.

    Of course, bottom line is that I’d rather read books on my Kindle than on my PC.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Liz!

      Yes, you could read those books your employer generously provided for you 😉 without a Kindle…there are a lot of free apps. I just wouldn’t want to do that on a backlit screen for whole books. Besides, I want to listen to text-to-speech in the car in that kind of situation.

      I was surprised that you could have multiple Kindle for Mac installations on the same machine, but that’s what I have heard. Not sure about PCs…I’m just not sure how it identifies the device. If you are willing to read on a computer, that does open up more possibilities.

      When we get full books in Kindle for the Web, you could presumably log into those different accounts on your computer…that will be another option.

  9. Laurie Osborne Says:

    Our family now has three kindles. I bought the K2 — twice. Once for me and once for my daughter. Then I could not resist K3 and bought that. I offered my husband the K2, and he was uninterested. He told me that he only liked “real books” (of which we have a lot!). And then he wanted to read a book that I only had on my kindle. The rest is history. Now we seem to go everywhere with his and hers kindles!

    And I have been contemplating the KSO, even though I hate commericals.

  10. Elanor Says:

    I put the Kindle 3g with special offers in my cart this morning. I’m *so* tempted to order it just for the 3g service when away from home. And the special offers sound fairly good. If I would place the order I would keep certain books on it (for traveling away from home) and others on the old one. I haven’t come up with a firm plan since I’m kind of waiting to see about that rumored Amazon tablet. I’m I going to want that instead of a second kindle?

  11. Edward Boyhan Says:

    You raise a bunch of interesting scenarios — none of which seem to directly apply, but it does raise a bunch of “kindle environment” questions that I’m going to have to answer “real soon now”.

    I only have a 2G KDX purchased with case for around $500 back a ways. I did a financial analysis similar to the one you presented. The factors were: savings on mass market books (PB + HB), savings on technical books (most in PDF format), savings on printer paper & toner (I was going to try to “print to kindle”). This was before agency pricing so I was looking at $6.50 per paperback, and $11-12 per hardback, and about 10-15% off technical books. I also figured I would cut my paper usage from a case a month to a case every other month, and reduce laser toner cartridges from 15 a year to 8. Well agency pricing came along, and I didn’t do nearly as well on the mass market side as I estimated (the fact that I have shifted a substantial part of my reading to non-big6 indie titles has not been factored in to this). “Printing” to kindle given my printer usage patterns has been more difficult to realize than I first estimated — so paper and toner usage are down about 25% instead of the 50% that I had estimated. OTOH I’ve done much better with technical books saving 20-50% (I buy a lot of these — most priced in the $40-75 range). I think on balance the KDX paid for itself in the first year. Cost wasn’t my primary driver, but I’m happy with the savings nevertheless.

    While I only have the one device, I will soon have at least 2 (whenever Amazon decides to announce new models:-)). I also have two apps associated with my account: K4PC, and K4Android (which looks a lot like K4PC). At least 30% of what I buy is not through Amazon — so it’s not backed up by them. I use Calibre for this purpose (and I also plan to move my paper library records from Gurulib to Calibre whenever I can bring myself to focus on this for a week or so).

    So at some point in the not too distant future I’m going to have to figure out how to manage 2 (or 3) EBRs, 2 apps, Calibre, and 3 or 4 eBookstores (one of which is Amazon) in some kind of coherent fashion.

    The one saving grace is that I don’t have to deal with multiple users of this environment — although when I get a new EBR, I will have to think about whether that new device can be attached to my existing account, or whether it has to be on a separate account. Thoughts? — I’m not sure which way I would prefer: one account per EBR, or one account for all my EBRs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: