Each of the Big 3 e-reader manufacturers has an associated store where you can buy e-books to read on your device. Here’s the catch: the e-books you buy from these stores are protected by DRM, which limits what you can do with your e-books after you’ve purchased them. That means if you want to lend an e-book to a friend or spouse the same way you’d lend them a regular book, you can only do so if you abide by the policies of the store you got it from.
Here are the lending policies for each of the Big 3 e-reader manufacturers’ stores:
Amazon’s lending policy states you can lend each of your e-books (but not magazines or newspapers) one time only for up to 14 days apiece. During that time, you won’t have access to your book.
You can send a loan through email and the recipient will have seven days from the day you send it to either accept or reject it. If the recipient doesn’t accept within seven days, you’ll get your book back and you’ll be able to loan it in the future if you’d like.
If they do accept, the 14-day lending period begins on the day they accept. If they don’t have a Kindle, they can still read your book by downloading the Kindle app to their device.
If you have a Kobo, you can’t share e-books, newspapers or magazines purchased through the Kobo store. The company’s official policy is that your purchases are tied to your account, so unless you want to give your kids your username, password and access to your credit card number, you’ll have to either lend them your e-reader or buy them their own copy of Harry Potter separate from yours.
Barnes and Noble’s lending policy is very similar to Amazon’s. You can lend an e-book once for 14 days, with seven days available to the recipient to either accept or reject it. You can’t read a book while it’s on loan. Because the permission to be loaned is given at the publisher’s discretion, not all books are eligible for lending, though Barnes and Noble claims most are. Books that can be loaned are clearly marked in the store.
The recipient’s email address must be associated with a Barnes and Noble account that’s linked to a credit card.