Skip to main content

Amazon's new Family Library feature lets you share purchases as a household

Amazon's new Family Library feature lets you share purchases as a household


Books, apps, Prime Instant videos, audiobooks, and games — but no music, movies, or TV shows

Share this story

Amazon just removed one of the biggest roadblocks for sharing things you've bought with someone else in your family — at least for some of the things you buy off Amazon. Alongside its new line of Kindle announcements, it's introducing a new feature called Family Library that lets people in the same household share books, audiobooks, Prime Instant videos, and any apps or games that were bought off Amazon's Appstore. Not included on that list are things like purchased music, movies, or TV shows.

Family Sharing Amazon

Amazon already had a sharing feature with its Kindle loan program, but books could only be loaned out once, and for a limited time period. The new policy — which Amazon says is "coming soon" — is far more broad and expands to other types of media. Up to six users can share content, with the option for two adults to manage up to four children. Amazon says the new feature works not just on its own devices like the Kindle Fire phones, tablets, and e-ink readers, but also third-party devices running Amazon's apps.

No music or videos is a big miss

Apple introduced a more comprehensive sharing feature that went live today as part of iOS 8. It lets up to six members of a family share whatever they've purchased on the App Store, iTunes, and iBooks. Apple's system also employs controls to let kids ask parents to allow purchases on those stores, and includes shared photos, calendars, and locations.

To coincide with the new sharing feature, Amazon is adding user profiles for Kindle devices. Unlike the existing FreeTime feature, which was designed mainly for children and let you basically cordon off a section of the tablet with restrictions, this is something designed for multiple people to have their own settings on the same device. The new profiles setup saves things like how far you are in a book or video. It also saves progress and data from apps, and settings like screen brightness.