How to Borrow Amazon Prime Books without Using Kindle Unlimited

Prime Reads

Borrowing with Amazon Prime

Amazon used to advertise on the book’s product page that the book could be read for free if the book was in KDP Select.

With the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, product pages no longer advertise Amazon Prime’s monthly free borrow.

Instead, they advertise Kindle Unlimited, which makes sense. Customers interested in reading free e-books are more apt to appreciate Kindle Unlimited than Amazon Prime (since they can only borrow one book per month through Prime).

However, Amazon Prime customers can still borrow one KDP Select book per month, as in previous months.

But many Prime members are confused about this.

They don’t see mention of Prime on product pages like they have in the past. So many customers are wondering if they can no longer borrow books through Prime.

The trick is to log into the Kindle device, rather than browse for books on Amazon’s website.

Here are Amazon’s instructions for how to borrow one eligible book per month through Amazon Prime:

Amazon Prime is still great for free two-day shipping and for video streaming. Amazon is still advertising Amazon Prime for quick shipping of print books and other physical products.

But Kindle Unlimited is the better alternative for reading ‘free’ books. Well, they aren’t free, but once you pay the $9.99 monthly fee for Kindle Unlimited, you can read as many KDP Select books (and 100,000 others) as you’d like.

Some customers are switching from Prime to Kindle Unlimited, but some customers have both, and yet others have never had Prime but are signing up for Kindle Unlimited.

Those who are keeping Prime only: Yes, you can still borrow one book per month from KDP Select. Be sure to browse for books from your device, rather than searching on Amazon’s website.

UK and other European customers are eligible for Amazon Prime, but presently Kindle Unlimited is only available for U.S. customers.

Kindle Unlimited customers have access to 600,000 titles, whereas Prime customers have access to 500,000, so there are a few books that Kindle Unlimited customers can download, which Prime customers can’t.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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31 comments on “How to Borrow Amazon Prime Books without Using Kindle Unlimited

  1. Thanks! I had been wondering what they were planning to do. I have Prime and I went ahead and got “Audible” cuz sometimes I like hearing someone else read it to me… especially if it’s set in another country… accents etc. 😀

  2. Okay, so I know I haven’t been able to read all the info, but tell me what is your personal opinion. I can’t do them all… so how about rating them for me and a 1st, 2nd and 3rd…. if you can. You know so much more about this than I do. LOL😀

    • If you’re asking between Prime and Unlimited, it depends on what you want. For reading (and audio), I’d go with Unlimited. For free shipping and videos, I’d go with Prime.

  3. I don’t know if I’ll go with the unlimited, but I have Prime – and I’m NOT going to browse on the Kindle I have – it’s too awkward.

    But I can browse on the computer, and then select the appropriate books on the Kindle.

    I can’t read AND write, and the writing is more important right now, and the husband doesn’t read – so we’ll be staying in Prime.

    People’s needs are different.

    Thanks for pointing out you can still go Prime only.

  4. Didn’t this service used to be available to non-Kindle owners, on a one-book-per-month basis, providing they had Amazon Prime? Now it is only for those Prime members who also own a Kindle-branded device, correct?

    • I signed up for Amazon Prime when it first came out and I needed an actual device in order to borrow my monthly book for free.

      I now have Kindle Unlimited, too. With Kindle Unlimited, it’s not necessary to have the device—it even works with Kindle for PC and on other devices (like iPad and iPhone) that support free Kindle apps.

  5. The way it’s currently working, when you go to an eligible book from a Kindle, you only get two choices: Buy the book or Join KU. There is no longer a choice allowing you to borrow the book through Amazon Prime. I saw one Internet post that the only way to get around this is to join KU for the 30-day trial, then not renew the trial. According to that person, then you get your choice back for borrowing through Amazon Prime. Have you heard anything along these lines? Is there another way to make it work instead? This sounds ridiculous.

    • I just got out my Kindle Fire to test this out. I have Amazon Prime on my Kindle Fire (and have had Prime membership on this account since KDP Select was introduced). I’ve never had or tried Kindle Unlimited with this account.

      I clicked Books > Store on my Kindle Fire. I typed the name of an author in the Search field whom I know has books in KDP Select. I picked a book that said Kindle Unlimited next to it. I see three buttons to choose from: (1) Buy for $2.99. (2) Borrow for Free (Prime members only). (3) Try a sample.

      (I also found a book that was Free. The free book only gave me Buy for Free and Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited options. Well, I guess if it’s free, there is no reason to use Prime for that.)

      I just tried Harry Potter and there was a button on my Kindle Fire to borrow that for free with Prime. Another thing to note is that in the search results I see the words “Kindle Unlimited” on the right column with the price, and I also see the word “Prime” on the left column with the title.

      I believe that if you instead shop from in a web browser, you don’t get the Prime option there. Unlike Kindle Unlimited, you need to use a Kindle device to borrow Prime books, so now Amazon only allows Prime customers to borrow from the device itself (not one of the free apps, and not in a web browser).

      • The results I gave you were from using a Kindle Paperwhite (the second version of the Paperwhite). I’ll give you the specific book I’m looking at. It’s “Murder at the Breakers” by Alyssa Maxwell. On the Paperwhite under the shop menu, I go to the menu entry for “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library,” search for the book, and under book details I see two boxes: “Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited” and “Buy.” There’s a smaller “Try a Sample” link below the “Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited” box, and a smaller “Add to Wish List” link under the “Buy” box. Nowhere is there any box or link for “Borrow for Free.”

        I went to my Kindle Fire and followed the same approach you did, using Shop and then searching the book. On the Kindle Fire I see two boxes but they are “Buy for $8.57” and “Try a Sample.” There isn’t even a “Read for Free” box on my Kindle Fire. (My Kindle Fire is the first version of the Fire that they issued, so that might make a difference).

        I have no doubt that you’re getting different results. Maybe it’s the book — give me an example of a book that works for you. Or maybe it’s something funny with my Amazon Prime account. But apparently I’m not alone. See

      • An additional update to my previous comment about using a Kindle Fire. I hadn’t used the Fire in a long time, and after getting the result I mentioned in the prior comment, Amazon downloaded a firmware update to the Fire. Now when I go to that book on the Fire I see three boxes: “Buy for $8.57,” “Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited,” and “Try a Sample.” But I still don’t see any way to borrow the book as part of Amazon Prime.

    • Note that your Kindle device must be registered with your Prime account. So, for example, if your Kindle DX is registered with your Prime account but your Fire isn’t, you wouldn’t be able to find the option to borrow a Prime book on the Kindle Fire until first registering the device with the your Prime account. Which device(s) is(are) registered with your Prime account? (Also, they don’t advertise the borrow for free through Prime like they used to, now that Kindle Unlimited lets customers borrow several books. You need to have Prime to see this option, and then you need to view from the device for which you can borrow books through Prime.)

      • I’ve used my Paperwhite in the past for Prime book borrowing. I even had a previously borrowed Prime book on it when I got the results I mentioned in my other comments. And just to make sure it didn’t affect anything, I returned my previously borrowed Prime book, and the choices are still the same on my Paperwhite.

        On the other hand, I just looked at the first Harry Potter book (Sorcerer’s Stone), and I see two options: “Borrow for Free with Prime” and “to purchase this title, visit” So apparently the behavior is at least partially book dependent.

        What do you see for “Murder at the Breakers”?

      • I typed in Murder at the Breakers. That book appears to be in Kindle Unlimited, but not in Amazon Prime. Two books down, I see Murder Stalks a Mansion, which is in both Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited.

        Note that there are about 100,000 more books in Kindle Unlimited than Amazon Prime (there are around 500,000 books in both). Amazon negotiated a deal with some publishers to include their books in Kindle Unlimited, but that didn’t include Amazon Prime, which is the reason for the difference.

      • OK, so now things are becoming clear. For “Murder Stalks a Mansion,” I see “Borrow for Free with Prime” and “Buy for $2.99.”

        So the problem is that (1) Amazon isn’t labeling its books as being Prime versus Kindle Unlimited so there’s no way to tell them apart from their web site, (2) they haven’t updated their documentation for Kindle Prime borrowing to reflect the differences, and (3) the search within the Lending Library on a Kindle (at least on a Kindle Paperwhite) doesn’t just search within the Lending Library so it picks up books that aren’t borrowing alternatives, and it doesn’t even label the Prime borrowing alternatives in the list of search results.

        Thanks very much for your help. This clears up the mystery. I guess the next step is to light a fire under Amazon to fix this situation.

      • My guess is that Amazon didn’t fully realize how those additional books that are in Kindle Unlimited but aren’t in Prime might impact Prime customers shopping for Prime books to borrow. There are indeed many Prime customers trying to find Prime books to borrow, who are having trouble figuring it out.

        I believe that Amazon loves Prime customers very much, and didn’t mean to make it look like Kindle Unlimited customers are favored over Prime customers in the book borrowing regard. Perhaps you can persuade them to help make it easier for Prime customers to find books to borrow.

        I hope you’re able to borrow your Prime books easily now, and perhaps some other Prime customers will benefit from your comments. Thank you for taking so much time to describe your issue here on my blog.

    • I see the option to borrow Harry Potter for free through Amazon Prime when I use my Kindle Fire. If I try to do this with another device that isn’t registered with my Prime account, I don’t see this option.

      • You do not have to associate a device for the KOLL loan. I can borrow from any of the many devices (10) that are registered to my prime account. Each month I borrow from whichever kindle is closest when I finish the current KOLL.
        All devices will show the same available KOLL books.

  6. Their app for android does not let you get your free monthly borrow. It’s not worth buying a kindle when that is the only reason I’d be buying it for. I personally hate kindles. I currently have an Android and thinking about getting a Windows10 tablet sometime in the future. I will only be using the borrow feature if they build it into their Android and/or Windows10 apps.

  7. I have multiple kindles all registered with Amazon Prime. I also have Kindle Unlimited. I still cannot find a “borrow for free” button on any of the books in the kindle lenders library. Before I had kindle unlimited I was able to borrow books. Are they now mutually exclusive?

    • Books to borrow for free are easier to find if you have Kindle Unlimited (than through Amazon Prime), and there are about 100,000 traditionally published books that can be borrowed through Kindle Unlimited but not through Amazon Prime (whereas anything that can be borrowed for free through Prime is also available through Kindle Unlimited).

      When I shop for Kindle Unlimited books on a device (I have Paperwhite, several Fires, and a couple of basic Kindles), I first go to Shop Kindle Store, type a keyword into the search field, and then Refine the results, for which the very first option is Kindle Unlimited. This way, every book on the list will be available for free through Kindle Unlimited.

      They don’t say “borrow for free” on the list, but they do say Kindle Unlimited next to the book on the list of search results when I browse for books on one of my Kindle devices.

    • Hmm. They do restrict certain kinds of cards for Kindle Unlimited, I believe (like visa gift cards; I don’t recall the exact criteria offhand). You might contact Amazon to speak with a person.

  8. I got Prime in Jan 2015. All year I was able to find eligible books with the Prime badge and add them to a lending wishlist I made – all done on my computer. Then I would use the device to actually borrow the book. When I went to choose my Dec book, I see all Prime badges are gone. It’s now virtually impossible for me to search for eligible books on my 5-way controller kindle.

    It makes no sense to me to scroll through pages and pages of books from a list of eligible titles. I’ve always looked up a book I actually wanted on the computer & if it had the Prime badge I’d add it to my wishlist for future borrowing.

    It boggles my mind that Amazon made such a user-unfriendly change.

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