Amazon.com has made a small-but-significant enhancement to its Kindle ebook ecosystem, as it now allows sharing ebooks among family members.
The new Family Library feature allows one to access ebooks “from the Amazon account of a spouse or partner.”
Amazon's allowed loans of ebooks, under limited conditions, for a while now. But it's not been possible to enjoy permanent access to another person's library. The new feature doesn't look like it's anywhere near the equivalent of being able to hand a book over to a friend of family member: it only kicks in once you enable the “Household” feature that lets one control the ebooks and other content that one's offspring are permitted to access.
That makes this new feature arguably less useful than a shared Amazon account and lots of Kindles: the company seems not to place a limit on how many devices – or virtual Kindles running software only - can share one account. Kindle owners know only too well that Amazon doesn't make it easy to share books in this mode, as once the first reader of book completes subsequent readers can't easily track their progress through a work.
Amazon is also not exactly on the bleeding edge here, as Apple's iOS 8 allows six family members to share content. And a calendar, a service Amazon doesn't currently offer.
The software update allowing Kindles to join the family will land without user intervention in coming weeks, if Kindles are online. ®