Getting your hands on a good book to read is as easy as clicking “borrow” on your tablet. If you’re a slow adopter to the world of e-books, you should know that you can download thousands of e-books and their audio counterparts from your phone, computer, or tablet—for free. Here’s how to quickly and easily borrow an e-book from your local public library.
How to access an e-library
Depending on where you live, your library may already have an extensive collection of e-books available. For example, the New York Public Library (NYPL) allows New York residents to sign up for a digital library card and check out available titles. You can sign up online, create a username (usually your email address or member number), and enter a password. You’ll then have access to their library of e-books through the app SimplyE. Other library systems across the country may have similar programs; visit your local library’s website for more information.
If a digital library card isn’t an option in your area, literary site Goodreads also published a short list of e-readers that are great for e-borrowing across the United States and Canada. Libby’s online readers’ app makes e-borrowing simple and links to your e-reader, Kindle, or Kindle app. The company OverDrive created Libby to link public libraries with readers for easy online borrowing; approximately 90% of libraries are reportedly connected to OverDrive and Libby, but you can search for participating libraries on their website to confirm this resource is available in your area.
How to borrow e-books through Libby
To work with Libby, you’ll need a library card. You can either use your existing card information or visit your local library for a new card. Once you have the card, download the Libby app and follow its simple set-up prompts. The app will ask you if you have a library card. If you select “no,” it will provide you with directions for getting a new card in your area. If you select “yes,” the app will ask if you know your local branch or if you want it to “guess your branch.” (The app uses your current location to find the nearest library branch.) After confirming your branch, you’re ready to start borrowing right away.
How to link your e-reader to your borrowed e-books
Once you’ve adequately browsed and found the book (or audiobook) you want through Libby, choose “borrow” at the bottom. The app will direct you to the checkout page, where you can select a seven-day, 14-day or 21-day borrowing period (depending on your library).
After setting the lending period, Libby will ask you to update the notifications settings. You can receive notifications when the lending period is about to expire and get notified when books you have on hold are now available. You can also choose to be notified when your favorite author has a new title or when the next installment of a series you like becomes available. This feature can help you track how long you have left to finish your current book and what to borrow next. Once the lending period ends, the book will no longer be available on your account or device.
Now that you are ready to read, you can access the book in your Kindle library with all of your other e-books. When you click the title, you’ll see the option to read it in Kindle or on an e-reader. Selecting “Kindle” reroutes you to log into your Amazon Kindle account. Once logged in, the Kindle app will ask to send the book to your device. You have the option of choosing which of your Kindle devices you’d like to use. When you open your e-library on your tablet, Kindle, or iPad, all of your books will be in the same place for easy reading.