If you own a Nook or a Kindle device, it is expected that you can access every genre of written material from biographies to science fiction from your respective libraries. These libraries are at your fingertips when you visit the Barnes & Noble or Amazon websites — both of which carry an assortment of e-books. Unfortunately, however, the fact remains that these sites generally require that you pay a fee in order to download the book onto your device. Yes, there are exceptions (such as paying for an annual Amazon Prime account) that will allow you to access a designated lending library, but in general, you can expect to pay a fee for essentially buying the e-book.
What surprises me is that the majority of Nook, Kindle, or other e-reader owners have no clue that their local library loans e-books for free. In fact, a recent Pew report states that:
- Only 12% of owners of e-readers borrow e-books from their local library.
- Readers who borrow e-books from the library read approximately 29 books a year, whereas those who don’t borrow e-books from the library read 23 books a year.
- In an interview, an astonishing 62% of users and non-users of e-readers did not know if their local library even loaned out e-books.
- 32% of e-book borrowers rated the selection of books available at their local library as ‘good.’
Like with everything in life, however, borrowing popular e-books from your local library may not be as easy as strolling through your local rose garden. The stumbling blocks or hiccups that the local libraries are experiencing, according to the borrowing public, are as follows:
- 56% of those surveyed stated that their local library didn’t have the title they wanted.
- 52% stated that their local library sometimes had a waiting list to borrow an e-book.
- 18% said that not all of the offered e-books are compatible with their device.
The Pew survey also revealed that people who already have library cards are more likely to use the e-book services than those who don’t have a current library card. However, it also revealed that, since the development of the e-reader, these same library card holders are visiting their local libraries less as their dependence on online e-books has increased. It appears that their choices include offerings from not only the e-book categories, but audio recordings, as well.
What Are the Benefits of Downloading an E-book from a Public Library?
- The primary benefit for most of us is the cost. Using the public library is free and so are the books.
- Like with a hard copy, you can still check out a book for somewhere between seven and 21 days, depending on the library that you use.
- Checking out and returning a book no longer requires a special trip to the physical library location, thus providing savings in the way of time and gas.
My Library Has a Small Selection of E-books. What Can I Do?
- The easiest solution is to visit a larger library in your vicinity and request to join its system. Most libraries — for a fee, of course — will allow out-of-towners to join their system. I know that a larger library near us charges users from a nearby, smaller town a $50 annual fee to borrow its books. .
- If you don’t currently have a library card, you can often register online for one.
- Before paying a fee and signing up for a library card, however, check out that particular library’s inventory of e-books (all library offerings will vary).
In my search to take advantage of free e-books, I went out looking for the perfect public venue. I began my quest with our local county library where I was disappointed to find the inventory of available e-books sadly deficient. However, never one to give up, I continued on my journey by checking out the libraries in our nearby counties. One of these libraries was located in a major metropolis and, sure enough, its inventory of available e-books was quite large. The catch was that, if you didn’t reside in its covered area, you had to pay a $50-per-year membership fee. While for some this may seem out of reach and just another luxury, for my wife and I, who read three to four books a month, it made sense. Remember that most paperback books can cost $10.00 and up, so we had our money back in a mere two months. Now remember, your family mileage may vary and your reading habits may not justify any fee. If this is the case, you should still be able to find something to your liking from your local library where no fee is attached. If you are stymied as to where to begin your search, Overdrive.com was designed to help you.
What is Overdrive.com?
Overdrive.com is a simple way to determine which libraries, colleges, schools, or other organizations in your area support free e-book downloads. This site also provides a means for you to locate downloads that are available for your favorite computer or device, (including PC, Mac, Kindle, Nook, iPhone, iPad, iPod, and many other popular e-readers and devices). Overdrive.com is the perfect place, no matter where you live, to begin your own venture in finding free e-books.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Librarian By Day