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Amazon's Kindle includes a couple of different concepts of borrowing or sharing books, but giving a Kindle book that you've purchased to someone else doesn't appear to be possible.

I know you can share a Kindle book, but can you give it away completely to another Kindle user when you are done reading it?

Kindle includes the ability to purchase a book for someone else or to loan your book to someone for a period of time, but I'm not aware of a way to give a book that you've purchased for yourself to someone else.

In this audio segment from an Ask Leo! webinar, I discuss Kindle sharing – the closest solution to what you're looking for – how it works and why I think it's pretty cool.

Download the mp3 (2M)


I know you can share a Kindle book, but can you give it away completely to another Kindle user when you are done reading it?

Not that I'm aware of. I'm just impressed enough that they are doing the sharing thing. And in fact, I'm reading a book right now (that is way off topic so I won't talk about it) but I'm reading a book right now that's the kind of a thing where I'm reading I say, 'You know what? So-and-so needs to read this book. I need to share it with him.'

So I don't believe you can actually be done with a book on Kindle. You own it; you own it for life apparently. I could be wrong, but I think that is just not the way they've set up their ecosystem.

I like the fact that you can share. I really do. I think that's pretty cool.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Kindle, what you can do if you own a book; if you've purchased a book and if the author of that book or the publisher that book has enabled this feature, you can actually say, 'I want to share this book. I want to let so-and-so borrow this book' and what happens is you basically specify so-and-so by their email address. They either have or get an Amazon account and a Kindle reader or the free app or an actual Kindle and for the duration of the loan, for the duration of sharing it, you can't read it. They can.

They get up to I think three weeks to read the book and at which point it is automatically returned to you or they can obviously read it quickly, be done with it, and return it to you immediately, but the interesting thing about it is that the one copy that you purchased can actually only be read by one account at a time. It's kind of interesting solution to the problem.

Article C5474 - June 17, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Jimmy Grant
June 19, 2012 8:23 AM

Barnes & Noble's Nooks work the same way, except the share time is only two weeks.

June 19, 2012 10:17 AM

I've loaned an ebook, and it was a simple process. Just want to thank you for the transcripts. I find it easier to assimilate info in written, rather than oral, form. I learn a lot from your newsletter. Thank you.

Franie Leklerc
June 19, 2012 12:08 PM

How come I can't get font sizes in regular reading view with pdf. The size is so small it is unreadable and on Kindle Touch the increase text size function doesn't work on pdf documents. Most books that are not from Kindle and that would be interesting to read are available in pdf format. So did I make a mistake in buying a Kindle Touch?

John H
June 19, 2012 12:26 PM

People may want to look into a program called Calibre to help them manage their E-book collection. It is free and open source. I am just starting to learn how to use it.

I stay away from proprietary formats and devices. Amazon is the last place I purchase from. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to. At least Barnes and Noble uses a non proprietary format. I use a cheap $80 android tablet with Nook and Kindle apps installed. I also use my tablet PC to read from.

Nancy Hudson
June 20, 2012 10:53 AM

The loan time for Kindle is 2 weeks. Thanks Leo for your newsletters. They are very helpful!

Jack Samso
June 21, 2012 12:48 AM

There are many who strongly believe that putting restrictions on what I can do with something that is legitimately mine, i.e., I bought it/it's mine, is illegal. It is illegal to prohibit me from selling or giving away something that I bought. SO I HAVE NO PROBLEM IN REMOVING THE DRM FROM A BOOK THAT I OWN! You are doing a disservice by not telling your supporters to just Google 'remove drm from kindle books'.

Make publishers pay attention to the fact that it is illegal to put a restraint of trade on something I purchase outright, that there is a law on the books that assures that I can exercise my right to make a backup/archive copy of any and every owned digital file, and that DRM doesn't work anyway.

Nonetheless removing the DRM is illegal (and hence not something I can recommend here). I suspect that in most cases you'll find you have not purchased the book, but rather have purchased a license to the book that specifies numerous restrictions that you implicitly agreed to by purchasing the book (or by accepting a license agreement elsewhere in the transaction/relationship). Don't like the terms of the license? Simple: don't buy the book.

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