Your book club meets next month, but you’re just too busy to run down to Barnes and Noble to pick up Infinite Jest. Sure, you could order it on Amazon, but it’s way too heavy to lug around in your backpack and your bookshelf is looking pretty crammed. That’s OK, though! With a library card, an internet connection, and an e-reader, you can download the book—for free!—without ever leaving your house.
First, you’ll need a library card. If you don’t already have one, visit your local branch to get one. Then, use your credentials to access your library’s e-book collection. Many libraries use OverDrive, a cross-platform service with millions of e-books and audiobooks. Scroll through OverDrive’s catalogue in your browser, or download the Libby app from OverDrive to scroll through the selection on your phone.
Found the book you want? Great! Just click “Download to Kindle” and you’ll be sent to Amazon to finish up. Just be sure your Kindle is connected to Wi-Fi so you can finish the download, and the book will automatically appear on your device.
Just like the rest of the books in the library, there are limits on how long you can keep the e-books you check out on OverDrive. These limits vary from library to library. Unlike physical books, you don’t have to return any of the e-books you’ve checked out. After your time’s up, they simply disappear from your Kindle.
If you don’t have a Kindle (which, you know, you should) you can still save e-books for offline reading inside the Libby app. You can also download some ebooks in ePub format, which will load onto any device that supports reading digital books. There’s also an option to read your borrowed book directly in your web browser, but really, who wants to do that?
Need a break from all that reading? Check out Hoopla, a platform that lets library patrons download digital media for free. It works a lot like OverDrive, but also offers movies, TV shows, comics, and music in addition to a selection of e-books. Borrowing items is free, but you’re limited to five titles at a time and 20 per month, which you can load onto your phone or tablet. Perfect for when the book club’s selection was turned into a movie.