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Get free e-books from your public library



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Hoopla Digital offers a wide selection of e-books that you can borrow for free – assuming your library is connected to the service.


Screenshot by Rick Broida / CNET

After falling in love with Hamilton the musical recently, I decided to read Hamilton's biography. Price for the Kindle edition of Ron Chernov's excellent book: $ 14. To check it out of my public library, it costs $ 0.

To be clear, I'm talking about the ebook – exactly what would cost me $ 15 on Amazon. Most libraries have partnerships with one or more digital lending services, so you can conveniently borrow library reading material from your PC, phone or tablet.

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James Martin / CNET

The following applies to getting started:

  • A library card
  • A compatible device (iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone / tablet, Kindle reader, Kobo reader)

Yes, that's it , Next, you should visit your library's website and look for something related to e-books. It could be called "eLibrary" or "downloads" or something else, but should lead to at least one of the two most important lending services: Hoopla Digital and OverDrive. You can use your library card to sign up and / or create an account.

OverDrive provides access to e-books and audiobooks, while Hoopla adds music, comics, movies and TV programs to the mix

What types of books can you expect? Here's the clue: just like the actual library, the choices may be somewhat limited, and you may have to wait to read the books you want. Because just like in the library, there are a limited number of titles for each title.

More information: 10 ways to read books online for free

The OverDrive service – accessible via Libby app – offers many books, but the waiting list can be long. In the case of Tara Westover's new memoirs very long. It depends on how many copies your library has and how many people are waiting.


Screenshot by Rick Broida / CNET

At Hamilton, for example, I had to be on a waiting list with OverDrive (the book is currently not available at Hoopla). That's because there are only 10 digital copies available in my library and currently 17 people are interested in lending them. Fortunately, OverDrive notifies you when a title becomes available in your Holds list, and you can even choose to have the book automatically checked out.

From there, you can download the e-book with a Kindle (or Kindle app), a Kobo Reader, or the Overreader Ereader app, Libby. (We've seen lesser compatibility with Kindle with OverDrive lately, possibly due to the fact that Kobo and Kobo are now owned by rival Rakuten.) It's available for Android and iOS, so it can find, reserve, and check out books [19659014] When a book is checked out, it usually takes 2-3 weeks before it has to be "returned". This happens automatically as soon as the return date occurs. At this point, the digital copy will expire, which means that you will not be able to access it unless you need to check it out again. (Note, however, that you may end up at the bottom of the queue again.)

Hoopla works similarly unless there is no option to read on the Kindle. You must use the Hoopla app. It is a mostly usable reader, although it is limited to three font sizes.

The key to this is that before you buy an e-book, check that it is available in your library. And if not, you may find something else that you enjoy reading. You certainly can not beat the price.

Read More: How To Get Free Digital Magazines From Your Library

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