The ebooks market is huge. There are dozens of services for purchasing books to read on your tablet or smartphone. There are also ways to read ebooks for free, legitimately. Just like borrowing a physical book from the library, you can check out ebooks right on your Android, iOS, or Kindle device.
OverDrive is one of the most popular services for borrowing ebooks, with two million titles from more than 5,000 publishers. The company works with more than 30,000 libraries across the U.S., although not every library uses the service.
The first thing you will need is a valid library card from your local public library. Some libraries will allow you to sign up online, but you’ll have to visit the official website to find out. Make sure you have a library card before trying to borrow books from one.
Then, download the OverDrive app onto either your Android or iOS device (we’ll get to Kindle later). Create an account using your email address and at least an eight-character password. This will allow you to sync your personal settings across all devices that have OverDrive installed, including saved libraries, devices, settings, and more.
Tap the menu tab in the upper left corner of the screen to access your available options. Select “Add a Library” Then, enter your zip code and tap “Search” to find your library.
Once added, select the library to visit the website where you can search for titles to borrow.
You will also need to log into your public library online account (different from your OverDrive account). For me, the log in is my card number. If you don’t already know your pin number, call the library to find out. They will have it stored in their system.
Once you’ve found a book, select it. If it is already checked out, you can put it on hold and you’ll receive a notification when it becomes available. If it is available, tap “Borrow.”
You will be given an option to choose which format to download the book as. Select “EPUB eBook” from the available options. This will automatically send the book directly to your Overdrive app.
Then, tap the menu tab again and select “Bookshelf.” The book you have just borrowed will appear in this section.
Tap it to download the content onto your device and you can begin reading.
If you want to read a book on your Kindle device (or using a Kindle app on your Android, iOS, or Windows device), follow the same instructions above However, instead of selecting an EPUB file, choose Kindle Book instead.
This will redirect you to Amazon, where you must sign in with your Amazon account to continue. You will be prompted to send the book to your selected Kindle device and it will download directly.
There are, of course other apps that serve as a portal to borrow library books. Bluefire, for example works on iOS. Aldiko works on Android devices. Adobe recently launched a tablet version of its Digital Editions application as an app for the iPad.
With so many ways to borrow ebooks from the library, it is no wonder the most popular titles are always checked out.