Can You Share eBooks on Kindle?

By Jennifer Leighton

Kindle e-reader owners may have an entire virtual library at their fingertips, but until the end of 2010, they had no way to share books with friends. Amazon.com introduced the e-book lending program in December 2010, offering Kindle users and their friends -- whether fellow Kindle owners or not -- to share select books for a two-week lending period. Although the e-books cannot be shared directly from the Kindle device itself, lending and borrowing is easily accomplished via the Amazon.com website.

Lendable Books

Many Amazon.com e-books are eligible for sharing under the Kindle lending program. Book publishers or rights holders make the decision whether a book will be eligible for lending. Kindle store books that can be shared say "Lending: Enabled" under the Product Details section for the e-book. Kindle users can also check the Manage Your Kindle section on Amazon.com to see if an e-book they already own can be shared. Click the plus sign directly across from an e-book title. If the book can be shared, a "Loan This Book" option button appears next to the title.

Book-Sharing Process

Kindle owners can share a book via the Manage Your Kindle section on Amazon.com or from the e-book detail page on Amazon. Loan a book by clicking the "Loan This Book" button, which appears only on eligible books. Book lenders must provide the email address and name of the loan recipient, and they may include a personal message if desired. The lender may send the book to any person with a valid email address, regardless of whether the recipient owns a Kindle or a Kindle reading application.

Receiving Shared Books

The borrower can receive shared books by accessing his email account and opening the message from the lender. To download the shared book, borrowers must click the "Get Your Loaned Book Now" link within the email message. This action launches a Web browser in a separate window, going directly to Amazon.com. Borrowers must log into the Amazon website (or create an account) and choose whether to send the shared book to their Kindle (if they have one) or to download a free reading app in which to read the e-book over the Internet.

Book Loan Expiration

Book loan recipients are allowed up to one week to accept the loan. After the book loan has been accepted, the borrower has the book for 14 days. Three days prior to the end of the loan period, both borrower and lender get an email reminder that the book loan expires soon. When the loan expires, another email is sent to both borrower and lender.During the time that a borrower has a book, the lender may not access that book herself. Just as with borrowing a paper book, the book is accessible only upon the end of the lending period.