How To: Set up Kindle Family Library

kindle-voyage.jpgUpdate: since I first wrote this article, Amazon added the ability to set up a household from their website; initially, you could only do so from a recent Kindle. I’ve updated the article to discuss these steps in addition to doing so from a Kindle.

Amazon finally allows you to share ebooks with your family, using the Family Library feature in the latest version of the Kindle software. But this feature may be a bit confusing to set up. Here’s how to do it.

First, find if your devices are compatible with Kindle Family Library. You’ll find the minimum software you need for each device to be able to access Family Library content; the minimum version to manage Family Library settings; and which devices support Child profiles.

You can set up Family Library on a Kindle if you own one of the following devices:

  • Kindle Paperwhite (2nd generation)
  • Kindle (7th Generation)
  • Kindle Voyage
  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Kindle Fire HDX
  • Kindle Fire HDX 8.9”
  • Fire HD 6
  • Fire HD 7
  • Fire HDX 8.9

You’ll want to check the software version on your device (on a Kindle, tap the menu, then Settings, then tap the menu again, and tap Device Info; I’m not sure where the settings are for the Kindle Fire), and update it if necessary. You can download the software for all of Amazon’s devices on this page. Follow the updating instructions on the page where you download the software.

There is no way to set up Kindle Family Library from the Amazon web site, or from a device running a Kindle app (such as an iPhone or Android phone), so if you don’t have a recent Kindle, you simply cannot use this feature. I find this surprising for two reasons. First, Amazon is saying that they have this great feature that is supported by every device they’ve ever made, but you can only turn it on if you have a recent device. Second, the settings are a bit confusing, and would be a lot easier to manage on the web.

I managed to set this up yesterday, from my Kindle Voyage, so my partner and I can share our content. She uses a Kindle Paperwhite (1st generation), an iPad and an Android phone; I have the Kindle Voyage, and also use my iPhone and iPad occasionally.

To set up Family Library on a Kindle that supports managing Family Library settings, tap the menu, then Settings. Tap Registration and Household. Then tap Household and Family Library. You set up a “Household” from this screen; add each person, entering their Amazon email address and password. What’s important is that, after they have signed in, they tap Devices and choose on which devices they want to see the shared content. The creator of the Family Library must also tap Share All Books and activate the feature to share their entire library; if not, you can choose to share individual books from your Manage Your Content and Devices page on Amazon’s web site.

You can also set up a household, and invite an adult to it, and add children from the Manage Your Content and Devices page on Amazon’s web site. Click Invite Adult, and follow the instructions. The other adult will need to sign into their Amazon account, but children don’t need accounts; you just create profiles for them.

Remember that, later on, if one of you gets a new Kindle, or adds a new device – such as an iPhone or iPad – to their account, you need to go back to these settings and select it in the Devices settings.

Unfortunately, if you ever want to change any of these settings – remove someone from the household, add a new device, etc. – you must do it on one of the newer Kindles. You can’t manage any of this on Amazon’s web site, where you have many settings for your Kindle and its content.

So you can finally share books that you and other members of your family have bought. This makes the Kindle a bit more useful, and it’s been too long in coming.

15 thoughts on “How To: Set up Kindle Family Library

    • If they’re DRM-free, then just copy them to other devices. Otherwise, Apple has a Family Sharing feature that lets you link accounts.

  1. Have to say not very happy about child accounts. Doesn’t seem to create an Amazon account so my children can’t login to their own Kindles with it. How do I get it setup on their Kindles so I can share books with them?

    Seems very limiting at first glance vs what Apple are offering.

    • You are absolutely correct that it is limiting. So limiting that IMO you shouldn’t do it. Read my comment below for my thoughts on Family Library.

  2. Just spent a couple of hours on the phone with Amazon Support (I don’t care what anyone says, Amazon Support is outstanding.) discussing Family Library with them. My advice at this point DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER USING IT!!!! It does NOT do what you think it will do.

    The “best” way to share your Amazon content and Prime benefits is to simply use the same Amazon account for everything including all of your devices. Hey, we’re not supposed to have secrets from our spouses/partners and we are supposed to be parenting our children and teaching them not to read 50 Shades of Grey when they reach puberty.

    I may set my 14-year old up as the other “adult” in a “household” so that they can have their own Watchlist but I probably won’t. I don’t see any major benefit to trying to manage what the kids are watching by using Family Library or FreeTime. If they have to be in my account to watch or read then I can just look through the history on my account to see what they are up to. And heck, a little bit of accountability to my children will keep me in line.

    I think what everyone was hoping for with Family Library was the ability to share everything while having having FULL, SEPARATE Amazon accounts, watchlists, playlist, wishlists, etc. My biggest complaint about having two Kindles registered to one account is that all of the Kindle Docs that I upload show up on ALL of the Carousels cluttering things up. It would be nice if you could control what shows up on the Carousel, but hey those 20-something programmers KNOW what’s best for this 50+ device user.

    Hope this helps and prevents someone from doing something they regret.

    • You can choose to not share everything, but then you need to share each item individually on the page I linked to in the article.

  3. The real deal breaker here is in the finer print – by authorising sharing, you also authorise the second adult in your ‘family’ to have access to your credit card details. They can transfer your cc details to their own Amazon account and use them for future purchases. Works (probably) with spouses, etc. Doesn’t work if you just want to share content with a buddy. What an odd way to do business :(

        • Actually, westerners are the ones who have been chasing individual and small family households. In Latin America and many other parts of the world, multi-generational living is the norm.

  4. Looks like the “household” option has not been rolled out to all markets. Works if you login with an account you created for amazon.com; does not appear if you use an amazon.it account. Another detail is that you can’t add a family member if their account was created via a different market (ie. if your account is through amazon.com, you can’t add your spouse to the household if theirs is through amazon.it, etc.)

    • Yes. My kindle 7th gen does not have a “Registration and household” option but instead has just “registration”
      I have an account on amazon.in (India)
      I hope they do roll out family library for everyone. :/

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