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Sharing a Kindle account with a friend

I have a friend whose tastes in books are somewhat similar to mine. She would frequently ask me what I purchased and I found so many times that our tastes overlapped. Why not share an ebook account, I proposed. We both have multiple Kindle devices and so I signed us up for a joint gmail account that we would attach to our joint Kindle account. This has been a lot of fun for me. I enjoy going into the Kindle account in hopes that she’s bought something great. From time to time, she’ll ask me what in our joint account we should read.

Kindle permits up to 6 Kindle devices to be attached to one account and any number of apps. We have two Kindle devices, two computers, two phones, and one iPad connected to the account. By pooling our resources, my friend and I have spent approximately the same amount of money than before we shared but we have access to a larger ebook library.

We fund the account primarily with gift cards, although I often “gift” myself books and my friend has recently attached her credit card so that we can access the Prime Library.

I asked on Facebook and Twitter whether any one else account shared and received some really interesting responses.

Dabney

DA reviewer, Dabney, shares with her sister. Dabney buys the adult books and her sister buys the YA books.

How do you fund your account?

I fund my Amazon account with a credit card. When she buys me a book, she gifts it to me through Amazon.

Did you have separate accounts before ? If so do you spend more or less?

We have different Kindles. For that matter, I own five Kindles–mine, my kids, my husband’s, my best friend’s and my sister’s–that all use my Amazon account. Only I buy books.

How do you decide who purchases what titles? Do you check with each other first?
My sister has her own Amazon account, but doesn’t buy Kindle books through it.
How do you decide who purchases what titles? Do you check with each other first?
She checks with me before gifting me a book. Sometimes, she buys a YA I already own (her eldest is 5 years younger than my youngest) and I return it for credit.
How did you decide to share an account?
She has an iPad for work, but wouldn’t have splurged on a Kindle. When I switched to a Paperwhite, I gave her my old one. She loves it because when she travels–her family lives in Spain for three months every other year–she can load up with books for her whole family.

Reader R

I share a Kindle account with my mom, but I do everything as far as getting the books, downloading them for her.
We do it primarily for the Audible account.

We live separately, but I have always been her book buyer, even paper copies. To us, this is just a continuation of the way we have always managed books. It just has the wifi element in it now.

Reader A

How do you fund your account?
I pay for the books on my debit card. I’ve always bought a lot of books. Honestly, I drink at bars. I always think – hm, I can buy a book instead, right?
Did you have separate accounts before ? If so do you spend more or less?
We never had separate accounts. I choose the books and she’ll give me a gift card every now. I spend about the same, but I buy more books since I follow both Dear Authors & Smart Bitches for book deals.
How do you decide who purchases what titles? Do you check with each other first?
I pick the books, though she’s told me about upcoming books or books her MIL has recommended.

How did you decide to share an account?

I had a thought about sharing a while back. I suggested she get a new Kindle and just hook it up to my account, but I got a new one first. I mean, she’s not going to announce my addiction to awesome erotic fiction authors. My Goodreads feed already does that.

Reader C

I started sharing my Kindle account with my friend Janice a few years ago. She got a Kindle for Christmas but didn’t use it very much at first, not loving the idea of having to buy most of her books. Her local library closed for 6 months for renovations, and I offered to add her Kindle to my account since we read similar genres and it would still be free for her. She took me up on it and we’ve been Kindle buddies ever since. I still buy any books that I would normally. She now loves the convenience of release-day delivery, as well as getting books she can’t find at the library. For any books she buys she’ll either send me a check every 3 or 4 months, or add a gift card to my account to cover her “tab.” We talked about it, and she’s fine with the idea that I technically own any books that she purchases. We have no plans to unshare my account, and would deal with stripping DRM to copy her books to her new device if we needed to.

….


The convenience of sharing is wonderful. Previously my friends and I would trade around a stack of paperbacks when we visited a few times a year, and now if I get something new that we’re all excited about I just go online in the morning, send the book to everyone’s device, and then we compare notes via email a few days later. There’s no more delaying the discussion while we wait for someone’s name to get to the top of the library queue. Also, there’s no more worry that a shared book will get lost and not make it’s way back to me.
As I said before, I buy the books that I would anyway so there’s no financial penalty to me. I see being able to share as a nice bonus and don’t expect that we’ll cut the cost 4 ways if it’s something we’re all interested in. There have been times when I’ve had the first book in a series but decided not to continue with it, and someone else buys the rest of the series. When my friends buy books, they reimburse me. We all benefit from having easy access to the shared pool of books and have discovered authors and series that we might have missed out on otherwise.
Sharing an account sometimes leads to other fun – since my sharers have to log in as me in order to buy a book, Amazon tags any other searches they do as mine. So, for about a week last summer, I got frequent emails from Amazon letting me know about sales on chainsaws and related accessories. I didn’t need a chainsaw, but J was removing a tree in her backyard. It makes for a fun ongoing joke when we all get together.

Reader T

so i saw this post and decided i needed to comment. i used to share a kindle acct with my best friend. we both read the same kind of books and thought it was silly to have to each buy the same books we read twice so we decided to put me on her acct and i would give her some money and we would share the books. THEN SHE GOT MAD AT ME for something and took me off her acct and changed her password…… all the money i paid for the books is lost… all the books i paid for are no longer on my kindle…she wouldnt give me any money back as compensation. i think sharing an acct with someone is a bad bad idea unless its ur acct to begin with and u always have access to it……….
Reader T told me she had shared this account for two years.

Reader S

In the beginning I read a lot more than my 2 other friends so instead of them spending money on something I already had I offered my account. We switch off on who buys the books to keep it fair for the most part. I still read a lot more than them though so I do not save a considerable amount because I will just end up buying another book with what I saved from rotating.

The drawbacks are if one is not careful with changing the CC to theirs or back to mine. I’ve had it happen a handful of times over the last 4 years being charged or charging someone else accidentally. I quickly learned to tell the others not to buy from their Kindle.
Children getting hold of their momma’s Kindle and buying things is another drawback. It’s easy fixed though, I just return the book as an accidental purchase.

There is a way you can buy a book on your Amazon acct & “gift” it to a friend(that way you can keep the books on one acct). I personally found that irritating and that’s when we came up with storing the CCs.

The other option is to “loan” it to a friend but a vast majority of ebooks I had do not allow this feature. I only share with people I trust implicitly! My hubby is in the USAF so we move a lot, sharing books with my friends/family helps keep the bond going strong…and lessens the loneliness one feels from time to time from being apart.

Reviewer M

How do you fund your account?
I’m the only one that makes purchases…. I think which just goes out of my personal bank account. I really bad at paying attention to what I spend on books… I just click, click, and click. I have a lot of books on my kindle I have never read because of this bad clicking problem.
Did you have separate accounts before? If so do you spend more or less?
I think she spends less. We were both buying the same books before. Now if I buy something she doesn’t have too.
How do you decide who purchases what titles? Do you check with each other first?
I just buy what I want or if its popular and I know one of us needs to review. We are really close so it I wouldn’t really care if she got something
How did you decide to share an account?
How it happened was I wanted the new Kindle with 4G LTE (it downloads books while not on wifi) and I already had the kindle fire. When I got my new kindle I still had this perfectly fine kindle fire so I handed to over to my other reviewer who also already had her own kindle but now she can have access to everything I buy. She literally is always caring around 2 kindles.

Reviewer L

I share a friend of mine’s account (I forwarded her your email address but don’t know whether she emailed you). The vast majority of her ebooks we both have (the free ones) however there are some that she cannot “loan” me because for whatever reason Amazon won’t let her. So I just log into the cloud reader and read it that way.

She also shares this account with her mother, her boyfriend and another of her friends. Attached to her Amazon account are 2 kindles (one is her mothers, other is hers), 3 ipads (1 work one and 1 for each of her kids), 3 iphones (2 are hers, one is her friends), a windows phone, an android phone (the boyfriends) and she also has the app for her PC. If I recall correctly she reads her books via her phone and loans out her kindle to friends if they want to read specific books that she can’t loan out otherwise.

As for the money aspect. I know her mother and her load money up on the account to buy books, not sure about the other friend. However she has told me that I can order whatever books I’d like on her account (she’s got prime) and I can reimburse her later. I’ve also mentioned just buying a giftcard, loading that up and paying off that for anything I’ve bought, that was also find with her.

I tried to preserve the anonymity of the readers and other reviewers. I know some people find the sharing of an account troubling but I see it as a way for readers to share with others much the same way as they did with paper books. As one reader above noted, the lending feature is limited because so few books feature that option.
Are you interested in sharing? Do you find it problematic? Would you share an account and if so, with whom?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. Lizabeth S. Tucker
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 07:56:38

    I don’t have a Kindle, but I do have two Sony devices that are shared. My father has my older one which doesn’t have wifi. I buy all the books, but he will suggest a book he might be interested in reading and I’ll get it for him.

  2. DB Cooper
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 08:10:39

    You know what I’ve discovered over the past few years? I’m a gossip. Not so much that I spread things about others, but I do love knowing how people do things, and finding out what makes them tick.

    Jane, thanks for setting this up. This was awesome. There’s so much more to Kindle sharing than I would have thought, and I loved seeing the wide variety of experiences and reasoning behind everything. :)

  3. Keishon
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 09:03:27

    Interesting that some find sharing an account problematic. I guess it doesn’t matter that some publishers have a limit to how many devices can download the same title? I’ve had that happen, forgetting that I downloaded said ebook on three devices and it stopped me from downloading on another one so I had to go back and remove the title from those devices. I guess it will always be a lose-lose situation for some parties if no money is passing hands.

    I’m nobody special so I can say that I share my Kindle account with my mother. I do all of the purchasing. We both read mystery and she doesn’t buy any books. If there’s a title she wants (damn James Patterson title), I’ll buy it for her. Even though we both are avid readers, we don’t have a lot of time to go through a lot of books. Often my mother sticks to the ebooks I buy her. She is a big audiobook fan so that’s where she spends most of her dollars.

  4. Anne
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 09:38:42

    I set my kindle account up from the beginning with my parents sharing my account way back in May 2009. They were the first with ereaders in the family, I figured I’d be getting my own soon and I was also pretty sure I’d end up being tech/account support so it made sense at the time. It still makes sense. There is some overlap between my mom’s reading choices and mine, it’s great for recommending reads to each other.

    I’ve since added a brother, his wife and a nephew. Brother and SIL have never really jumped on the ereader wagon except for vacations. They tend to buy from used bookstores so most of the time it’s like they’re not even on the account except when buying for their vacation reading. There isn’t much overlap in their reading with the rest of us so I probably wouldn’t have them on my account if I had a do over, I just don’t see any benefit here.

    Nephew is both a voracious reader and a poor college boy. There is some overlap between his choices and mine so that works well. I hadn’t read fantasy in a long time, he reintroduced me to the genre and I thank him.

    I do all the buying for my parents and the others pay me with gift cards. That’s primarily so I can make sure it’s not a duplicate purchase. If it’s already on the account, I just download it to the appropriate device(s) and hold the gift for application to a future purchase.* I don’t think any other the others on the account are very good at checking the archives.

    My mom is the only other person with my Amazon login info but I’ve provided her with all my various logins just in case she should need any of it. Of course, any could buy directly from the kindle but they generally don’t.

    My nephew is the only one that I’m worried about that might want “his” books but I made it very clear from the beginning that they were on “my” account so I couldn’t make any promises that he would get “his” books back in any way. That said, I’ll probably just give him my account information at some point in the future. He’s never abused any privileges on the account and maybe it’s time for me to start treating him as an adult.

    * I have had them gifting me a specific book but sometimes it’s already on the account. You can return these but there has been enough talk about Amazon cracking down on too many returns that I hesitate to do so. I just keep the credit balance on record for whomever unless I think it’s one of those overlap books and then we usually end up splitting the cost.

    Currently on my account- 11 kindle e-ink devices (some of us have two devices and two of the basic kindles are reserved/used specifically for kids books), 2 fires, 2 computers and 5 phones on my account.

    Accounts are NOT limited to six kindle devices but many books are limited to being downloaded to six devices and/or apps at one time. As I understand it, six is the default. The publisher can change that number and it’s shown under the product description.

    Anyway, it all works fine for us but I really wouldn’t want to add anyone else to my account. I already do all the tech support regardless of the device or retailer with the exception of B&N for the rest of my family. I hate the thought of having to manage their libraries as well. These days, I’d rather just lend someone one of the kid kindles if I had a book I thought they might be interested in.

  5. L Burns
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 09:48:36

    I’ve been sharing a kindle account with my sister for about two years now, and it works out great. The only downside seems to be that we’re probably spending more on books than before we started sharing! It’s easier to overspend on new releases when you can justify it with “It’s not really like I’m spending $9.99; it’s only $5.00 each”.

    Amazing the lies you’ll tell yourself when you want something really bad, lol.

  6. Lynne Connolly
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 09:58:14

    Some of my fellow writers will hate me now, but I think the sharing is wonderful. The only other way of legally sharing is to hand someone your device with a book loaded on it, and for obvious reasons that’s not always practical.
    Sharing is one of the joys of reading. It’s why I review, and why I turn up on sites like this talking about books and topics related to books. It’s not why I write, that’s something far darker and more complicated. But when I read a book, I want to go, “Hey, look at this!” and I want some of my friends to read it, because I think they’ll enjoy it, too. Unfortunately a lot of them are an ocean away.

  7. Sunita
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 11:08:31

    My husband and I use the Amazon account in my name for most of our purchases, and we have shared a Kindle account for years. We also shared our ereader and Fictionwise accounts, back when those stores existed. We overlap in our general fiction, mystery, and SFF reading, and he reads some romance as well, although usually on my recommendation. Three years ago I got my mother a Kindle and put her on the same account so that I could buy her books and she wouldn’t have to worry about the cost if she wanted to pick something up. It’s been great.

  8. Jody W.
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 11:21:56

    Another “advantage” to a shared Kindle account I haven’t seen mentioned is the ability to force-send books and samples to someone else’s device. I may or may not frequently send the most wacked-out material I can find to my sister’s phone app just to hear her yell at me whenever she gets a chance to sit down and read. DELIGHTFUL FUN!

    Needless to say, I have had to set up a separate account for my childrens’ ebook reading…there’s no way to limit a user’s access to all the wack in your cloud, heh.

  9. Lynn Pauley
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 11:23:43

    I share my Amazon account with my sister and my Mom. I was the first to get a Kindle and once my sister saw how much I liked it, she purchased one. Once I purchased my Fire, I passed my Kindle Keyboard on to my Mom.
    My sister and I share some of the same tastes in books — we both like Romantic Suspense particularly J. D. Robb. The true crime novels and CSI type books are pretty much all hers and the historical romances, straight romances, science fiction, fantasy, horror and westerns are pretty much all mine — although we both do share the Harry Potter books.
    My Mom pretty much only likes Inspirational romances and some women’s fiction — she doesn’t want me to buy any for her Kindle since she does not use it that often, so I have downloaded all of her titles when they were offered for free.
    I use my debit card for purchases and when my sister buys something, she just gives me cash or a check. She now has a Fire for the grandkids and has purchased a number of games for it.
    On my account, we have 3 Fires (mine, my sister’s and the grandkids’), a regular Kindle, a Kindle Keyboard, a 1st Gen Kindle (that I have just not bothered to delete), and 2 I-Phones.
    The only trouble I have ever had was when I checked my account about a month ago and realized that I had purchased $130 worth of Amazon coins!! One of the grandkids had played a game and did not realize that buying the coins actually cost money!!! Amazon took the purchase off and needless to say, we now have Parental Controls on all the devices.

  10. Lexie C.
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 11:57:00

    Before the Kindle broke my sister and I shared that as a device–not as an account. After it broke we instead decided to share the account and she reads from her iPhone and I read from my Samsung Note tablet.

    It works pretty well. We read a lot of the same stuff and when I buy the older stuff she wouldn’t touch as a print copy (really old style cover or whatever, she reads on the Kindle with the new cover. The only drawback is I tend to read more erotica than her–especially of the m/m or m/m/f variety. She’ll open her app and look at what I recently purchased and freak because her friends can see those covers on her phone. Meanwhile she will buy a book that is $10 without telling me, I’ll get the email and be like ‘omg where did that come from?!’ and then she’d had me the money in the night time.

  11. @moirarogersbree
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 12:21:31

    I share a kindle/amazon account with my husband, since we have a lot of reading crossover with SF/F/UF books and he likes some steampunk & fantasy romance. It’s pretty much just an extension of how we’ve always done things, because it’s not like we were buying multiple copies of print books before we switched to digital.

    The only difference is that now we have to paper-rock-scissors when a new book comes out because if I sneak it open on the kindle and read, I mess up his “furthest point read” setting when HE comes back to pick it up. I used to get away with it when we were reading paperbacks… ;)

  12. Lori
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 12:21:44

    My friend buys a crazy amount of books and simply put me on her account so I can download onto my Kindle. She knows I wouldn’t abuse her trust and I don’t. This way I have access to her amazing library. And sometimes I buy books and gift them to her or put a gift card on the account.

    I also have a separate account with my daughter and my Fires which is app driven and where I download a lot of Freebie books.

    Sharing an account is brilliant, quite frankly.

  13. library addict
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 12:32:13

    If I ever convince my mother to go digital I would probably get a Kindle just for the ease of use. But she’s not techy, so I’d be doing all of the book buying. Sadly, we don’t overlap in reading taste that much, so it wouldn’t save either of us money.

  14. Sarah
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 12:46:13

    I share a Kindle account with my mom and my husband. It works out pretty well, since between the three of us, we have a lot of crossover interests. My mom and husband both like things like Carl Hiasson’s novels and mysteries/crime fiction. I read a mix of everything and they both enjoy digging around in my selections and finding things they wouldn’t normally read. We work out the buying with my mom gifting me the books she wants (husband and I share an Amazon account) and every once in awhile she gifts me a book that I already have, but then I just claim a giftcard credit and buy something else we both want. This isn’t really different from when we all read print books, since we’d trade books around all the time.

    One tip I have is to disable syncing to furthest page read if you share your account. This way, everyone’s place is maintained if you’re all reading the same book.

  15. Mitzi
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 16:19:05

    My 1st kindle is registered to my aunt’s account. We love the same books. When I want to buy a book, I gift it to her. She buys more books than I do (she is retired now). She keeps a book list by author/series and updates it every few months and sends the document to both our kindles for easy reference. All of our purchased books go into this account. We now have over 1000 books in our shared library!

    We both have 2nd kindles. I keep that one registered in ‘my’ amazon account. I use it for all the free books I want to try (my aunt isn’t interested in them unless they come highly rated).

    So far, we’ve been doing this for 4 years and it’s working out great!

  16. Gwen Hayes
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 16:39:25

    I’m an author and it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I share a Kindle account with another author. It’s tied to my Amazon Prime account, so she gifts the books she buys.

    You have to really trust the person if the Kindle account is your main Amazon account because then they have access to all your music and cloud stuff and CC info, too. Which doesn’t bother me, but something to think about. Also, if you want to buy that person a gift, you lose the element of surprise. We pretty much just get each other amazon cards anymore, so it’s sort of like investing in my own bookshelf whenever she has a birthday.

    My husband and daughter are on it too, but I usually buy their books.

    Oh, we share a Verizon account too. Much cheaper.

  17. Lea B
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 16:51:55

    Brilliant! Why did I never think of this?! My sister got a Kindle Fire, a year after I got mine. I’ve been disappointed in the # of books I can loan her – I just to just give her my paperbacks when I was done. I’m going to chat with her about this. Thanks for the idea!

  18. Carrie G
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 20:42:33

    I’ve shared an account with my husband from the beginning. We each buy whatever books we want for ourselves, and the read each others book if we’re interested. Two Christmases ago we gave our oldest daughter a Kindle and gave her our account info. She and I read a lot of the same books and since she’s tight on money, it gives her access to my digital library. She always pays us back when she buys a book, usually writing a check once a month nor so. We’ve also given her “money” to buy Kindle books for birthdays and holidays when she’s asked for it. Usually that means we tell her how much she can spend (the account is tied to our cc) and she keeps track. It’s worked really well for us. I also share my audible account with my daughter. Unfortunately, my audible account is tied to a different email address (and name) than the Kindle account, so I’m not getting the reduced price benefits at the moment.

  19. Kindle- und Tolino-Accounts teilen » Debatte, eBooks » lesen.net
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 05:05:09

    [...] profitieren. Im US-Literaturblog Dear Author hat Jane Litte eine Reihe Kommentare zum Thema zusammengefasst. Für die meisten ist der geteilte Plattform-Account nicht mehr als eine Fortführung der [...]

  20. farmwifetwo
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 07:00:56

    I will share mine with nobody, including my dh. I gave mom my old Kobo touch and we created her an account. She uses it for library books, and I can gift her books for holidays etc.

    Dh doesn’t read ebooks. I get all his stuff for him. Honestly I think he likes being technologically challenged.

  21. SC
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 11:17:35

    I’m jealous of those that share a kindle. I have a kindle fire but no one that I would share it with. My mother doesn’t read digitally. I get a lot of my book recommendations from my best friend that lives across the country, but she doesn’t read digitally. And my best friend that lives near me, that does have a kindle fire, our reading tastes only overlap about once every couple of years.

  22. Janine
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 13:35:26

    @SC: This was a wonderful article, but it made me feel envious of those with kindle partners too.

  23. carmen webster buxton
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 15:25:11

    I once spent an hour showing a 90-year-old learn how to use her new Kindle, which her niece had bought her. She didn’t own a computer, but she loved the Kindle (every book was a large font book!) but the one thing she had a problem with was buying books, so the niece just kept the Kindle on her account and bought whatever book the aunt asked for.

    In my family we have my Kindle Keyboard, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Fire and my husband’s iPad app and Kindle Touch on one account. I read more in general, but especially science fiction, fantasy, and historical romance (the last he doesn’t read at all). We both read mysteries but he loves police procedurals while I like cozies. The only real problem is you have one choice: sync or don’t sync. If you don’t sync, you can’t go easily back and forth reading a book on multiple devices, and if you do sync, it’s awkward if you both want to read the same book at the same time.

    I used to have a problem with sending books to the wrong device because I didn’t realize I could control which was the default by naming them in alphabetical order. No problem! My Paperwhite is now aCarmen’s Paperwhite.

  24. Jenny J
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 18:47:37

    I have a Kindle Fire HD and I love it! It’s easy to understand and the interface is perfect. Here’s the one I have on Amazon http://amzn.to/11SRHbE. If you’re looking for a tablet you should check it out, I think it’s very underrated.

  25. persnickety
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 21:19:11

    I don’t share a kindle account (although my husband does periodically suggest it), but we do share the books back and forth. I have an Australian account, he has a US one. Usually books are cheaper/more available for him, but every so often, they are a better deal for me (not sure why) or are available in australia and not in the USA.

    We strip the DRM and put the books in our Calibre library. Any book i buy from a store other than amazo.n will be a file that just gets placed in there, I don’t particularly like that one seller can limit who reads the books I buy. We started doing this when we had different types of ereaders, and will probably continue doing so.

    I

  26. Bessamy
    Jun 28, 2013 @ 18:33:22

    I have several devices that are shared between myself and my husband. I buy most of the books.

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