Update – Amazon now provides an option called Family Library. It allows books to be shared between two adult accounts, and children can be added as child profiles as part of an adult’s account.
Our family has multiple devices. In all, we have two iPads and three Kindles. Until now, we were able to use one Amazon.com account to purchase all of our ebooks and distribute it to any of our devices. That worked great for me and my wife, but it doesn’t work so well for our children.
The public school we send our children to have a digital device program, which allows them to bring a Kindle, iPad or similar device to school. They can use it to surf the web (during teacher led projects) and also read books during reading time. The problem is that they have access to all of the books we’ve ever bought, some of which are not appropriate for young children.
Amazon doesn’t provide a way for us to hide or control access to these books, which led us to find our own workaround.
The unfortunate reality with Kindle books is that they have DRM. This doesn’t seem like a problem – especially with Kindle apps being available for almost any popular device – but it is when you want to share a book with another person (with a different account).
Amazon supports ebook lending, but it only allows the book to be accessed for 14 days, and most books (publishers) don’t support it.
Without the ability to lend books, or lend books for a reasonable amount of time, the only alternative is to have multiple Amazon accounts and to buy ebooks for the appropriate account. We created two unique email addresses for both of our accounts. The first one was email@example.com, which is the one my wife and I have been sharing for years. The second one was firstname.lastname@example.org, which is the newer account made just for our children.
We always purchase books for the kids with the amazonkids account, which keeps them from viewing the books that my wife and I purchased. It also keeps our ebook library clean from their books, which we have no intent on reading either.
While this workaround is not ideal, it works well enough for us. And until Amazon can come up with a better solution – which is unlikely as long as publishers continue to get their way – this seems like the best solution for families that have multiple devices, but need parental control over what their children see and read.