You might think that the only way to get e-books on your Kindle is to buy them from Amazon. But the truth is that you have access to a literal library of free books. All you need is a library card.
That’s right. Switching from physical to digital books doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the benefits of a public library. The process of checking out books isn’t quite as simple as walking into a library and getting lost in the bookcases, but it does work well once you get past the initial setup.
How does this differ from checking out physical books at a library? Well, actually, it’s quite similar. There are only a certain number of e-books available. If they’re all checked out, you can place a hold. You are allowed to have the e-book for a set number of days, after which it’s automatically returned.
What You Will Need
- The most important thing that you’ll need is a Kindle e-Reader—such as the Kindle Paperwhite—or a device with the Kindle app. That could be a Kindle Fire tablet or an iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
- Second, you should check to make sure that your local library or any libraries that you’re interested in joining support lending with OverDrive. This is the service that’s officially supported by Amazon, and it’s what we will be using in this guide. Head over to this page and search for your library.
- Lastly, you will need to obtain a library card from the library that you want to use. Some libraries allow you to get these online, but others require you to visit the physical location. Every library is different, so consult with yours.
TL;DR: You need a Kindle or the Kindle app and a library card from a library that participates with OverDrive. That’s it!
How to Find e-Books from Your Library
The first thing to do is find an e-book to rent from your library. To do this, you’ll need to visit the website for the library that you have a card with. The screenshots below are specific to my library, but it should be a similar process.
Find your library on the OverDrive search map using a desktop web browser such as Chrome and select “Visit Library Website.”
This will take you to your library’s website or to the network that your library belongs to. Click “Sign In” and enter your library card number. You might have to select your specific library if you’re on a network website.
Next, search for a book that you want to read. From the results, use the search filters to see only “Kindle Books.”
Find a book that’s labeled as “Available” and select it.
Now, simply click the “Borrow” button.
Choose how long you want to borrow the book. The options are usually 7 or 14 days. Then, click “Borrow.”
A confirmation pop-up will appear with some extra information. The next step is to click “Read Now With Kindle.”
This will take you to the Amazon listing of the book. Make sure that you’re signed in with the same account as your Kindle e-Reader or app, and then click “Get Library Book.”
Amazon will confirm that you have checked out the book, and it will appear on your Kindle devices and apps the next time they perform a sync.
How to Borrow e-Books on Your Phone
The process described above was done in a web browser on a computer, but you can also check out books with OverDrive’s handy “Libby” app. The process is similar, but we’ll show you how to do it.
Once it’s installed, the app will ask whether you have a library card. Tap “Yes.”
Next, you’ll have a few options for selecting your library. The “Yes, Guess My Library” option will use your location.
After you’ve selected your library, you’ll be guided through entering your library card number.
Once that’s all taken care of, you’ll be ready to search for e-books. Use the Search tab at the bottom to do this.
Use the “Refine” tool on the results page to select “Kindle” in the “Supports” section.
Find a book that says “Borrow.” Books that aren’t currently available will say “Place Hold.”
Tap “Borrow” on the book information page.
Select how many days you want to borrow the book, and then tap “Borrow.”
From here, you’ll want to open the book with “Kindle,” which will take you to the Amazon website.
Make sure that you’re signed in with the same account as your Kindle e-Reader or app, and then click “Get Library Book.”
Amazon will confirm that you have checked out the book, and it will appear on your Kindle devices and apps. If you’re already on the device where you want to read the book, tap “Read Now in the Kindle App.”
This all might seem like a complex process, but it’s pretty easy after you’ve finished all the initial library searching and signing in with your card. From here on out, it’s just a matter of finding books and sending them to your Kindle. Happy reading!