Amazon is the hidden behomoth in the ecosystems wars. If you think about operating systems and stores Apple and Google spring to mind with their huge numbers of apps, audio and video but Amazon has a very strong ebook library and mp3s, videos and it has a a growing set of app support. As with the other ecosystems this content is tied to one email address and username. This account can be signed in on multiple devices but streaming or reading in multiple places or by multiple members of a family can get confusing and run into blocks. Amazon this week launched new ebook readers, tablets and a new version of their Fire operating system but less publicised was their launch of a new facet to the Prime service called Family Sharing.
The service as the name implies lets you share some of your media content with other members of your family. The service covers books, audiobooks (Audible), Instant Video and apps and games from the Amazon app store. It does not cover purchased music, movies or TV shows.
This might sound a little familiar to Amazon readers as there has previously been a program called the Kindle Loan Program but that was extremely limited. Books could only be loaned out once and they were time limited. The new program allows for up to six separate users and this could be made up of up to 4 child accounts that could be directly controlled from adult parent accounts. Amazon has also been specific that this will work not just on their own hardware but also on third party devices, although they stopped short of saying which ones would be supported.
It has also not been made clear exactly how much content within the given limits will be shareable. The inference is that there will be the ability to read or consume any media from a sharing library, but this has not actually been stated yet. In addition Amazon has said they will require all sharing accounts to have the same billing address.
The ability to switch accounts on Kindle e-readers has also been promised which will be great for anyone who shares a reader.
Amazon Family Library is to launch in October, probably initially in the US although possibly in the UK as well.