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How to Share Amazon Kindle Ebooks

I love reading, and I love books. I don't care much about the medium--paper or digital, it's all the same to me, for the most part.

But one thing I really miss about books and stories printed on paper is the ability to share a good book with a friend or colleague by simply handing over my copy when I'm finished with it.

When it comes to ebooks, Amazon's Kindle Store is my favorite online destination to obtain new reading material, mainly because it's so easy to access Kindle books on all of my various ereaders, smartphones, tablets, PCs and other gadgets--Amazon offers mobile apps for most mobile platforms including iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone, and the Web-based "Cloud Reader" lets you access your Kindle library via most popular browsers, so you can don't need a Kindle ereader to read Kindle books.

And, thankfully, Amazon offers a method of instantly sharing certain ebooks with other Kindle users, even if they don't own Kindles. The process is a bit tedious, only select ebooks can be shared and there are many constraints associated with Kindle ebook sharing. But it's certainly worth the time it takes to learn the ins and outs of Kindle loaning. Keep moving for specifics on how to share Kindle books, how to determine if your Kindle books can be shared, constraints and restrictions, and more.

How to Determine if Kindle Books Can be Shared or Loaned

Only certain Kindle ebooks can be shared; Kindle publishers and authors must enable the sharing features for Kindle ebooks to be eligible for sharing or loaning. And, unfortunately, more Kindle books cannot be shared than ebooks that are sharing eligible. But it's fairly simple to determine if Kindle books can be shared, before and after you purchase them.

If you want to know whether or not a specific Kindle book can be shared before you buy it, simply surf over to the book's webpage in the Kindle Store, navigate down to the "Product Details" section of the page, and if the book can be shared you'll see the words "Lending: Enabled." If the book is not eligible for sharing, you won't see any "Lending" option.

To determine whether or not a Kindle book can be shared after you've purchased it, sign into your Amazon account on Amazon's site, navigate to the Kindle Store and then click the "Manage Your Kindle" tab in the top right of the main store navigation bar at the top of the page. On the following page, you'll see a list of all your purchased Kindle content. On the far right side of the page is a button marked "Actions." Click on the Actions button, and if that particular book can be shared, you'll see a "Loan this Title" option that you can click to initiate the sharing process.

How to Share or Loan Eligible Amazon Kindle Ebooks

A few methods exist for sharing eligible Kindle books. The most simple of which is surf to an individual book's page in within the Kindle Store, where you'll see a yellow bar on top of the page, indicating that you've already purchased the book and with a link labeled "Loan this book." Click that link and you're brought to another page that requests information on the person you intend to share the book with, including his or her e-mail address--make sure the email address you enter is the one the recipient associated with his or her Amazon.com account--and name. You can also enter a personal message to go along with the shared book.

You can also share eligible Kindle books directly from the Manage Your Kindle page mentioned above. To access the Manage Your Kindle page, navigate to the Kindle Store and then click the "Manage Your Kindle" tab in the top right of the main store navigation bar at the top of the page. Click the Actions button on the right side of the following page, then click the "Loan this Title" option from the drop- down menu. You'll then be brought to the page that requests information on the person to which you wish to lend the book. Enter in the appropriate data and click the "Send Now" button. You're now on your way to sharing your Kindle book; an e-mail will be sent to the recipient informing him or her that you're sharing an ebook.

Amazon Kindle Sharing and Loaning Restrictions

Unfortunately, Amazon and its digital publisher partners have tied a number of sharing restrictions and loan constraints to Kindle ebooks. And those rules and regulations vary depending on the specific publishers and books. But what follows is a quick list of high-level restrictions that apply to most load-eligible Kindle ebooks.

  • Kindle ebooks can be shared or loaned out for only a specific amount of time. Most books can be shared for 14 days, or two weeks. During the loan period, the book owner cannot access the shared book. Only after the loan period has expired can the ebook owner access the previously shared book.
  • Your Amazon Kindle sharing invite must be accepted by the recipient within seven days, or one week, of receiving it or it will "expire" and you'll need to send another invite.
  • Many loan-eligible Kindle ebooks can be shared only a certain number of times and many of them can be shared only a single time.
  • Only Amazon customers located within the United States can initiate Kindle loans, though U.S. customers may be able to share ebooks with users outside of the country if the specific book is available in digital format in the recipient's locale.

Find more details on Kindle e-book sharing on Amazon's website.

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for CIO.com. Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Al at [email protected]


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