Kindle Unlimited – can you side-load borrowed content?

This post is a cry for help to my US friends. If any of you have signed up to use the new Kindle Unlimited borrowing feature, could you please experiment to see if you can borrow a book using the side-loading method?!?

What is Kindle Unlimited?

For those who may not have heard of Kindle Unlimited yet, it’s a new featured offered by Amazon whereby you pay a monthly subscription fee of $10, for which you get to borrow as many books as you want. The only restriction I can see is that you’re only allowed to borrow 10 books at a time – i.e., you have to ‘return’ the borrowed books before you can select and download another ten.

What is side-loading?

Most people who buy ebooks from Amazon use the easy Whispersync feature to download their books direct to their Kindles. But Whispersync relies on wi-fi to work, and some of us don’t have wifi [yes, I know, what luddites, shocking]. So, when I buy ebooks from Amazon, I have to download them to my computer, attach my Kindle to my computer, and then copy the new ebooks from the computer to my Kindle. This slightly cumbersome process is called side-loading. [See instructions on side-loading at the end of the post].

Why do I want someone to experiment with side-loading?

As a voracious reader on a very strict budget, I’d love to sign up for Kindle Unlimited [KU]. Unfortunately, KU is only available in the US [for the moment]. If it’s a success, however, I’m sure it will quickly be extended to the rest of Amazon’s world, including Australia.

Before that blessed day arrives, however, I need to know whether I’m going to be able to even use the feature. As mentioned above, I can only download ebooks using the side-loading method, but I suspect KU will only be available via Whispersync. Why? Because Whispersync would allow Amazon to track the borrowed books. By contrast, side-loading would allow the user to keep a copy of every borrowed book on their PC, even if they deleted the copies from their Kindles.

So, if anyone is game to help me out, the process is detailed below, starting from within Amazon itself. Do not miss this first step!

Side-loading Step 1

As I can’t sign up for Kindle Unlimited, I have no idea what its download screen looks like, so the best I can do is show you screenshots of how to buy ebooks for side-loading. If side-loading is available for Kindle Unlimited, I imagine it will work something like this :

So …you are signed into Amazon/Kindle Unlimited, and have found an ebook you like. Now, look for a box called ‘Deliver to:’ [or something similar]. If you see a little arrow next to the ‘Deliver to:’  box, click it to see what delivery options are available. If you see something like the screenshot below – i.e. a list that includes the option to transfer via the computer, click it and continue with Step 2.

sideload from amazon1

If the only option is to download to your Kindle, it means side-loading is not possible. Cancel and thank you for experimenting, and letting me know the result! 

Side-loading Step 2

Assuming there is an option to transfer via the computer, this is likely to be the next screen you see :

sideload from amazon2As I only have one Kindle, I just click on Continue. If you have more than one, select the one you want to use and then click Continue.

Side-loading Step 3

You are still signed in to Amazon, but now the program is asking you where you want to save the new ebook file… on your own computer. Click on Save.

sideload from amazon3

Side-loading Step 4

You are now looking at the folders on your own computer. I save all my downloaded ebooks to the folder ‘EBOOKS kindle’, so that is where I will save the latest one I have bought. You will need to navigate to the folder of your choice and then click the Save button.


sideload from amazon4

Once the ebook file has finished downloading, you will be taken back into the Amazon web space to buy more books or sign out. Your latest ebook purchase, however, is now safely saved to your computer.

How to transfer Amazon ebook files from your pc to your Kindle 

Step 1 Hook up your Kindle to your pc like so :

usb k to pc


The USB cable you can see in the photos is the same cable I use to charge my Kindle.

Step 2. Open My Computer or Windows Explorer, and find the ebook file you have saved to your pc.

Step 3. Left click the ebook file to highlight it.

Step 4. With the ebook file highlighted, press the Ctrl and C keys on your keyboard – at the same time.

[Windows will not show you any notifications, but ‘Ctrl C‘ is a keyboard shortcut that copies the highlighted file to a holding area called the clipboard. A copied file will stay in the clipboard until you paste it somewhere else, or overwrite it with something else].

Step 5. Now scroll down My Computer or Windows Explorer until you see your Kindle device listed.

Step 6. Double click on your Kindle device folder. You should now see some sub-folders. The one you want is called Documents :

how to transfer to Kindle 7

Step 7. Left click on the [Kindle] Documents folder to highlight it [as shown above]. Next, press the Ctrl and V keys on your keyboard – at the same time.

[The keyboard shortcut ‘Ctrl V‘ will paste your copied ebook file into the Kindle Documents folder].

And that’s just about it. After you ‘Safely eject’ your Kindle from the computer, you should find your new, side-loaded ebook file waiting for you to read.

If we’ve gotten this far, it means I will be able to side-load Kindle Unlimited borrows, once they become available in Australia. Yay!

If not, I’ll be crying in my coffee. Either way, however, my deepest thanks to whoever does this bit of technological sleuthing for me. Please let me know how you go in comments. Of course, you can also make comments about other things, and I hope you do. 😀



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

6 responses to “Kindle Unlimited – can you side-load borrowed content?

  • davidprosser

    You make me glad I only have Kindle for PC and rarely use it as I don”t get chance to read from there very often.It’s not bad being a technophobe. I do wish you luck though and hope the side loading method still works.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx


    • acflory

      I tried the Kindle for the PC, but reading off the screen tires me out too much. And yes, it IS bad being a technophobe! Imagine how boring your life would be without the internet, or a pc, or a microwave!


  • Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)

    It’s been ages since I manually loaded items onto my Kindle, but you raise a good question here. I’m tempted by Kindle Unlimited, but won’t try it out until my Prime membership expires. I think I would get my money’s worth with the $10 a month deal, but the benefits of Prime go mostly unused for me due to NetFlix, etc.


    • acflory

      Yes, I’ve never seen the point of Prime because I literally don’t watch movies, well so few they don’t count. But I would LOVE to be able to as much as I wanted. 🙂

      I stopped going to libraries because I hated having to read to a deadline, plus I literally ran out of great sci-fi books to read. KU sounds like heaven.


  • EllaDee

    An interesting version of “what I did on my holidays”. I give it an A+ 🙂


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