The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the…Kindle

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the…Kindle

I find it’s valuable for my readers for me to return to the basic  hierarchy of devices and the account from time to time.

That’s partially because I have new readers, but it’s also just worth a reminder. 🙂

I recently answered a question like this in the Kindle forums: essentially, what had happened was that the person posting had lost a Kindle at the airport. They wanted to deregister that one (which is the right thing to do), but was worried that doing that would have a negative impact on a Kindle Fire on the account.

It won’t.

What you do on one Kindle really has no impact on other devices registered to the account.

I’ll need to clarify that, of course, because I’m sure some of you are going right to Whispersync…I’ll get there. 😉

Let’s stay with the idea of a single account with a…I’ll go with a

Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

which are two of the devices we have on our account, and the two Kindle/Fires I use the most.

There is a very important third entity in this equation: “the account”.

Our Paperwhite does not communicate directly to our Kindle Fire HDX…and vice versa.

However, they both communicate with the account.

Let’s say I remove a book from the Paperwhite…does that affect the book if it is on the Fire?


However, it does affect the account…which can affect the Fire.

Most books from the Kindle store have six SDLs (Simultaneous Device Licenses). That means that you can generally have Kindle store books on six devices at the same time on your account for one purchase price. If it’s a different number (a small minority of books have fewer licenses…some are unlimited), it will say so on the book’s Amazon product pages.

Let’s just pretend that this book has one SDL: I’ve seen that be the case for some textbooks.

That means I’m only allowed to have it on one device registered to the account at a time.

If it’s on the Paperwhite, I can’t download it to the Fire.

If I remove it from the Paperwhite, that “returns the license” to the account. The Fire, then, can download it from the account.

That wasn’t the Paperwhite giving it to the Fire. It was the Paperwhite giving it to the account, and the account giving it to the  Fire.

That may seem like an overly technical way to explain it, but it’s important.

Losing one of your devices has no impact on the other devices registered to your account.

It’s a similar idea with Whispersync, which enables you to pick up where you were when you go from device to device. I could read three chapters of a book on the Paperwhite, and then pick up right on Chapter Four on the Fire.

Again, that’s a case of the Paperwhite telling the account what my “furthest page read” is, and the account then telling the Fire.

We didn’t used to be able to do this, but you can now reset that reading point by going to

That will reset it for all devices on the account.

You also have the option to keep Whispersync turned off…that’s what we do. You do that on the Settings tab at that MYK page linked above.

It’s a pretty simple equation:

One person reading the same book on multiple devices = Whispersync on.

Two people reading the same book on different devices = Whispersync off.

My Significant Other and I sometimes read the same book at the same time (Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, for example), but not at the same speed.

With Whispersync on, it would keep skipping my SO ahead to where I am in the book. I’m usually ahead, since I use text-to-speech in the car and I drive a lot (I worked in three different cities…today alone).

Don’t worry…I never spoil the books. 🙂 I’m quite careful about that.

Do we get competitive about who is ahead? Not really…but I remember jokingly saying to my SO once, “I can be less competitive than you can!” 😉

We have a healthy competitive feel. I do that with everything. Yes, I want to win, but I want you to have the best game you possibly can…otherwise, it doesn’t mean as much to me.

I will train you for our match. I’ll recommend books to you. I’ll do what I can to make you better…and then I want to beat you. 😉

So, to restate this: books belong to the account, not to the device.

I think for a lot of people, they still think of it as if they bought a physical copy of the book.

They think there is just one copy for them. They downloaded it, so if they accidentally delete it, they’d have to buy it again. That did used to be true with some digital files, but not from the Kindle store.

You buy a license to read the book: you don’t buy the file itself.

It’s Amazon’s responsibility to keep that book available to you.

For more information on that, you may find this earlier post of mine interesting:

How an e-book is like a treadmill at the gym

You can read the book on the device…you can’t manage the book on the device.

That’s an important distinction.

You could have a hundred people on your account…that’s fine: Amazon doesn’t put a limit on the number of devices registered to one account.

Very few of them, though, should have the password and username for the account.

Those credentials should only be known to the “account managers”, as I like to call them.

Lots of users: very few managers.

The managers have the authority to delete the book from the account…which does affect everybody.

The account (reached at that Manage Your Kindle page above) is central…all devices on the account touch it.

Each device connects to the account…but not directly to another device on the account.

There you go! Hope that helps…

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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