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Kindle Device License Limits Are Stupid

There, I said it. I'm betting most consumers and quite a few publishers don't realize that Amazon has limits in place to prevent you from loading one Kindle ebook on more than 6 devices within the same account. You're probably wondering why I have so many devices connected to the same account. The answer is simple: I like to test new devices and the old ones become hand-me-down's to family members. They all remain on the same account though.

Amazon has a default maximum of 6 devices for any given Kindle ebook. Once you try to get it onto the 7th device you're greeted with an error message saying, "License Limit Reached", and they nudge you to buy another copy of the product. No way. I already bought it once and I'm not buying it again.

This is yet another example of why DRM sucks. Someone decided 6 was a magical number and so no title can be read across more than 6 devices. Sure, I could de-register or maybe even just delete the book from one or two of my older devices but why should I have to?!

Limitations like this, including DRM in general, are evil and should be done away with. Amazon and publishers, please start trusting your customers and eliminate stupid barriers like this. You're not protecting your revenue stream this way but you're doing a terrific job of irritating your customers and reminding them that you don't trust them.



I don't like DRM. It begins every customer relationship with the assumption that every customer will steal. It's hard to believe in a business that does that. It's really hard to want to give them money when they start off treating you like a thief. (Was it Twain that suggested it was better to be guilty than to be assumed to be guilty?)

However I can see Amazon's side on this particular issue. You pass the older devices down to family members on the same account. If this was a paper book they'd have to read it one at a time. Here you're handing off copies of the book willy-nilly and getting cranky when Amazon won't send you an extra issue for your third cousin when you only ever paid for one copy. Just because you paid for more electronic devices doesn't mean you're being fair to the book company or the author.

Joe Wikert

You make a good point. I'd like to think though that the cumbersome nature of having so many devices on one account will more or less solve that problem. I'm just about maxed out as far as family member hand-me-downs are concerned and I can tell you it's not a lot of fun when two of us are reading the same book at the same time. Whispersync often gets in the way so each person has to carefully bookmark their location. So if the user experience of sharing a book across so many devices is already challenging why do they need the extra pain of the 6-book limit? Again, it's all rooted in DRM and the FUD publishers and author have about non-DRM'd books, content being illegally shared, etc.

If that were such a big problem though, don't you think my employer (O'Reilly Media) would have reversed course and adopted DRM long ago? Our customers *expect* to get their content without DRM. Yes, they're a much more technical crowd than what most publishers cater to, but I suspect it won't be long before all consumers expect their books to be DRM-free.


Can you unconnect one of the devices. That's what I do with my Apple devices. They also have a limit (I think it's 5).

Joe Wikert

Hi Dominique. Absolutely. Either removing one of my devices from my account or buying the book again are two fairly simple solutions. I'm not trying to solve the problem though. I'm more focused on why Amazon even introduces the limit. They should remove limits like this and DRM as well. I can't wait till that finally happens.

Dawn Danish

I think the interesting thing with digital content is that unlike the physical product, when you "purchase" digital content, you're actually renting it -- you don't own it.


I didn't realise O'Reilly sold their excellent books as e-books with no DRM. Checked it out last night, loved the "green" discount, lifetime download, multiple downloads, and 3 for 2 offer. Bought three books as a direct result.


Just started playing with the manage devices tab and learned you can turn off whispersync. If you hop back and forth on multiple devices it would be better to keep it on, but it would help with multiple people reading from the same device.

John Pearson

When I buy a printed book, I usually read it then give it to someone else to read and pass on. who knows how many people read it? but it was my book, I bought it and I can damn well do what I like with it, even sell it. I guess if I were paying .99 for it that would be different, but I'm not, I'm paying nearly as much as a printed copy would cost, a copy I would be free to do whatever I liked with. It's back to this "license" nonsense we see all the time now. A purchase is a purchase. If they are so worried about piracy etc., why don't they figure out a way to remove the book from one device and place it on another?


FWIW ... I'm troubleshooting an error where, when I do delete a college textbook from a kindle ... I am STILL NOT able to download the second (yes, SECOND COPY - the publisher restricts to ONLY TWO devices) copy to another device !!!! What's worse (in my mind anyway) is that this is a textbook related to computer science majors ... and ... it is NOT ATYPICAL for a computer person to own 5 to 10 platforms where a Kindle app could run! Allowing only two ... ridiculous ! But worse ... Amazon account issues where deleting the book still does not free up a license to download to a new system ? Even worse ! As it stands now, I must deregister (as the only way) to free that extra license ! I'll be nice and not mention which publisher decided to do this ...

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