An interesting question popped up last month on Kindleboards.

A mom wanted to set up FreeTime—the app included on Kindle Fire HD that allows parents to create a customized content experience—for her son on the Fire HD. A lot of his books were not purchased from Amazon, so when she sent them to the Fire, they were classified as “personal documents” and didn’t show up under any of the FreeTime tabs.

She converted the books to EPUB, side-loaded an EPUB reader and figured that would fix it. Nope. Sideloaded apps also don’t show up on FreeTime. She called Amazon Customer Service, and they said what she wanted couldn’t be done.

But they were wrong. I remembered that the OverDrive Media Console was available as a Fire app, so I suggested she try that.

It worked. OverDrive shows up under the FreeTime apps tab. She used Dropbox to load the books into Overdrive and everyone was happy.

I hope this helps other parents who are struggling with non-Amazon content in FreeTime.

Anyone know of another work-around?


  1. I came across this as I had just finished swapping out the Kindles for the kids in order to set my daughter up on Free Time. She loves playing games in the apps, so I am trying to limit that, but then I ran into this issue… I was really hoping to find some miracle answer, because her not being able to read the library books is not an option, but neither is giving her unlimited time for overall apps. Really stinks!

  2. Just bought a Kindle Fire HD partly because of FreeTime, then realized I can’t add non-Amazon-purchased content. Found your site.

    “OverDrive shows up under the FreeTime apps tab. She used Dropbox to load the books into Overdrive and everyone was happy.”

    I installed both OverDrive and DropBox, but can’t seem to figure out the steps to make them communicate. Can you enlighten me, or offer direction? My google-fu isn’t strong on this.

  3. Any word about this being problematic with the 2013 Kindle Fires? I’m trying to set up my daughter’s for Christmas and got the surprise that I couldn’t just sideload our books in. Found this solution and got started adding them one at a time. After pulling a number of them from Dropbox (which is not accessible within FreeTime because it’s not approved), I went into the FreeTime environment to check up. While the books show up in Overdrive, when I open Overdrive within FreeTime, there’s nothing there. The app even looks a little different and I’m kinda afraid the app’s been tweaked to close this loophole.

  4. the only flaw with this is I’m guessing is that reading the books through the app counts as “app time” if you’ve set time limits. I’d love to give the kids access to books all day but apps only an hour or so. still searching for the perfect answer…

  5. @jack – EXACTLY! The WHOLE POINT is trying to get them to appear as books, not apps, as like you, I let my kids have unlimited reading, but they are limited to an hour of apps. Also they have to do 30 minutes reading before they can access apps. This is a great feature, but I’m now finding it to be a really cynical one instead, as it just forces loads of content purchasing from Amazon. With a young reader they get through a couple of books a day!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the help and I may well follow the advice, but not being able to load your own books as books really stinks. Very cynical ploy.

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