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Old 05-06-2009, 08:41 AM   #1
anniep
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Can multiple people share a book?

In trying to decide which ereader to purchase, can you share ebooks? There are 3 of us who would like to be able to share ebooks. We share regular books and would like the same ability with ereaders. Can this be done? Does the answer change based upon the reader you buy? Do specific ereaders lend themselves better to this than others? Thank you
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:57 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by anniep View Post
In trying to decide which ereader to purchase, can you share ebooks? There are 3 of us who would like to be able to share ebooks. We share regular books and would like the same ability with ereaders. Can this be done? Does the answer change based upon the reader you buy? Do specific ereaders lend themselves better to this than others? Thank you
Hi anniep,

We have a Sony PRS-505 and PRS-700 in our home and we often both read the same DRM'ed eBooks, that we purchased or got for free from the eBook Store or other on-line store, at the same time. Reading together is fun and can generate some good conversation.

If the books are non-DRM'ed, and both devices can read in the same format then there is also no problem sharing. Or, use Calibre to convert a non-DRM'ed format to any format that can be read on the device(s) you have.

In other words, if all the readers you have can read a specific format, and it is a format you like, then there should be no problem sharing.

WDE.
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Old 05-06-2009, 09:15 AM   #3
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hi anniep,
that's a question which comes back regularly and the answer is a bit complex.

if you are reading drm-free public domain books, these can be shared freely with anyone you like, and providing the people you are sharing with have a reader compatible with that format or can convert the file to the appropriate format. you can get these books from project gutenberg, feedbooks.com, manybooks.com, right here on mobileread, and many other sources.

if you are reading books still under copyright, this is where the question becomes more complicated.

first, the question of sharing the books on a legal / ethical / philosophical level. many publishers / vendors would like to consider their sales as 1 file = 1 user, even though as you point out this is not the case with paper books. some of them have specifically allowed a certain amount of sharing ; for example, 6 sony devices can be registered to the same account, and all of the registered devices can access all the books on that account. epub files encrypted with adobe adept drm can be authorised for 6 devices. some vendors, like Baen, sell their books drm-free and encourage sharing with immediate friends and family because they consider that fair use and free advertising. most people would agree that sharing a book between 3 people from your immediate circle of friends or family is perfectly acceptable under the concept of "fair use", however to do this, if their readers are not registered to your account, you may have to remove the drm, which may or may not be technically illegal in your country.

on a technical level : files can be shared with other readers if they are drm-free (or have had the drm removed, which is possible for most forms of drm but may be technically illegal where you live) and a compatible format. if they are not a compatible format, most formats can be converted to other formats, although the quality of the results can vary.
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Old 05-06-2009, 09:58 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by anniep View Post
In trying to decide which ereader to purchase, can you share ebooks? There are 3 of us who would like to be able to share ebooks. We share regular books and would like the same ability with ereaders. Can this be done? Does the answer change based upon the reader you buy? Do specific ereaders lend themselves better to this than others? Thank you
Amazon also allows up to 6 people to share books purchased from Amazon if the readers are Kindles all linked to the same account.

cheers
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:11 AM   #5
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With DRM-free ebooks you purchase the seller usually says something like "treat it like a physical book". It isn't entirely clear what this means, but since you are already sharing books I don't think anyone is going to come after you for sharing DRM-free ebooks.

With DRMed ebooks, as a practical matter anything the DRM allows is OK (the seller may try to add additional requirements, but if they wanted these requirements to have force they should have added them to the Digital Rights Management). Some vendors have said this explicitly - for example responses on MobiPocket's forum directly from MobiPocket about classroom use simply say 4 students per ebook (i.e. 4 PIDs per ebook).

MobiPocket allows 4 devices (4 PIDs) per ebook file (some retailers allows fewer then 4 but 4 is the maximum). Adobe allows 6 devices per Adobe ID (managed by a central Adobe server, one device must be a Windows PC or a Mac). Sony allows 6 devices (one device must be a Windows PC) per account. eReader has no device limit but your "password" is the last 8 digits of your credit card. Amazon allows 6 devices (Kindles or iPhone/Touch) per account.

If you all want to separately buy ebooks but share them after purchase, then I think Adobe's scheme may be the easiest because you can all be under the same Adobe ID (three desktops and 3 reading devices). If you buy Sony Readers, then you can probably share a Sony account and an Adobe ID. I'm not sure if multiple mobipocket accounts can contain the same set of PIDs - if so then this will work too (just share your device PIDs and add them all to the ebook before downloading it). At Amazon, everyone would have to buy from the same account. That might work if you created an account just for this purpose and funded it with gift cards. There has to be a credit card on the account though. Amazon has a long list of things you are not allowed to do with your Kindle, but they are not enforcing them and there are lots of groups sharing a Kindle account. I don't know if there is a way to get the same credit card registered to multiple eReader accounts for use as a password. There might be, but it isn't obvious how to do this. Note that most of what I just said about sharing is theory (i.e. I have not tried it) - but in most cases you can test using 3 desktop PCs and seeing if they can share ebooks purchased on multiple credit cards. This isn't the case with Amazon, but I have seen multiple reports of family and friends sharing a Kindle account.
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