Did you know that you can check out books for free just using your library card? Today I wanted to share a quick tutorial on how to borrow Kindle ebooks through your public library for free.
Don’t have a Kindle device?
You can also get books for free using a simple Kindle reading app on your phone or tablet.
The reason I wanted to share this is because when I bought my Kindle Paperwhite (this is what I read on!), I had the hardest time figuring out how to borrow these books from their lending library and how to get those books that I ordered to move over to my Kindle device.
To me, it just wasn’t an intuitive process so today’s post is for anyone else who has struggled borrowing books on their Amazon Kindle or Fire tablet.
Step One: Get a Library Card
If you want to begin checking out Kindle books, you will need to begin with getting a library card from your local library. This card number is what you will use to access your account and allows you to get these free Kindle library books and audiobooks for free.
When you get this card, you are typically assigned a pin that you will then use to access the Overdrive app that allows you to search for the books that you are interested in. If you have trouble figuring out a great library pin number, a local librarian offered the tip to make your pin the last four digits of your library card so you never forget it.
This is a great time to just confirm that your library is participating in Overdrive and also to ask about any other apps that might be available to you for digital lending. It is HIGHLY likely that your library is participating since over 11,000 libraries now offer this option.
Step Two: Download the Overdrive Library App
Once you have confirmed that your library is participating, you will need to download the Overdrive Library App to your phone or tablet. If you do not want to use a mobile device, you can also access it online through your desktop.
My library homepage, for example, is linked to Overdrive so I can just search directly on my desktop.
Step Three: Sign Into Your Overdrive App
Once you have installed the app, you will select Sign Up Using Library Card (or sign in using library card).
At this point, you will be able to search for your local library name or location. Select this library once you find it. You will want to search for the overall local library system (the county name) versus just the local branch you use.
You will then be prompted to add your library card information and pin number that you were assigned. Once you are signed in, it is time to start searching for digital books and audiobooks.
Step Four: Select and Check Out Your Books
I wanted to walk you through the step-by-step process of checking out the books, once you have the Overdrive app installed. This is where I got confused because I didn’t understand how the book was supposed to magically appear on my Kindle Paperwhite.
Begin by searching for the book that you would like to borrow. You can search by title or author. Be sure that you are searching for the Kindle format and not the ePub because the Kindle format is what you will be reading on your Kindle device or through the Kindle app.
Once you find your book, click BORROW to borrow this book. Once you borrow it, you will be prompted for the timespan you would like to borrow this book for.
Make sure that you adjust this, especially if you need more time to read so you aren’t at risk of giving it up if it can’t be renewed. I always adjust my time to 21 days so I can enjoy the maximum length for borrowing times.
Step Five: Sign Into Your Amazon Account and Borrow the Book
Once you have clicked that you want to borrow a book on the Overdrive app, it will automatically redirect you to your Amazon account to sign in. Sign into your account and then this screen will appear where it says, “Get Library Book.”
As you can see in my screenshot, it is defaulting to the device that I use most (Amy’s 5th Kindle)…yes, we do own five in our house.
Don’t you judge me.
Once this has been clicked, you will find the book on your Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire, or in your Kindle app on your phone or tablet.
Step Six: Complete the Book Download
Now that you can see the book on your chosen destination, click on it to download it. You will need to have wifi to complete this step so be sure you do this at home, if you might be traveling.
Once the download is complete, you can begin reading your book.
Step Seven: Return Your Book When You Finish
The other thing that often confuses people is how to return your book through the library reading apps. Honestly, you don’t need to necessarily return them when you finish because once your book expires, it will automatically remove itself from your Kindle.
Overdrive does have book limits though so if you want to check out more, you might need to return your book to do that.
Head to your Amazon account and then to the, “Manage Your Content and Devices,” page. You will see the book(s) you have borrowed and you can click the Actions tab next to it.
As shown in this screenshot, “Return This Book,” is one of these options.
Select that to return the book to the library.
That’s it, you have successfully borrowed a book from the Kindle store and added it to your own personal library.
Other FAQ About Borrowing Digitally
How do I renew my library books?
Is your Kindle (Paperwhite) library book expiring? Check this page for a step-by-step tutorial on how to renew that book!
What other free reading apps might the library be connected with?
Looking for more free reading apps?
Check your local library website or ask a librarian! Our library, for example, offers Libby, Hoopla, and Flipster.
We can also checkout independent documentaries and films through the Kanopy app.
This frugal girl loves a freebie so you know that I’m using ALL THE APPS.
What about free audiobooks from the library?
Did you know you can get audio books from the library for free? Borrowing audiobooks will differ depending on the type of device you are using to listen to them. The best resource for that will be this page that explains it step-by-step depending on your digital device you are using.
I usually just listen to them on my phone through the Overdrive app directly, but you might have other options depending on the device you are using.
Where else can I read free books through my Kindle app or device?
First of all, if you are a Prime member, you can get a FREE book every single month!
Amazon Prime has a great program called, “Amazon First Reads,” that allows Prime members to shop for a book for free before it is released to the public.
How cool is that?
You can check this page each month for a free book.
They also generously give you two books on certain months too. These aren’t throwaway books either. Some of my favorite novels have been from this Kindle First program.
Also, as a Prime member, you have access to the Kindle Lending Library where you can borrow books for free through Amazon.
FYI- This is NOT the same as the Kindle Unlimited paid program (another confusing element to the Amazon services).
You can access thousands of books for free through Prime and the offerings do change monthly.
I would suggest signing up for their newsletters to stay up-to-date on the book offerings. They often send emails that warn you if a book is going to be removed from their Kindle Lending Library program and also lets you know when new books become available.
Project Gutenberg also offers over 59,000 books for free that you also can check out!
I borrowed a book, but I’d love to have someone read it to me. How do I do that without buying or borrowing the audiobook version?
Did you know that Alexa can read your books to you?
Keep in mind, this won’t be the beautifully narrated audiobook version, it will be Alexa reading to you.
Get the scoop on what Alexa can read to you over here.
Why does my library not have new releases available to me?
This article might explain the issue better and the hurdles you may face securing a new release.
I want new books though. Where can I get them for cheap?
Check my deals page A.S.A.P. Bookmark this page and check back daily for the best Amazon steals and deals.
What Kindle book should I checkout next?
You will NEVER be bored again with reading because I’m here to guide you through every second of the way. Visit my book reviews section for the best reading material or join my FREE book club so you can find and discuss books with other bookworms! I even hosted an IN REAL LIFE reading retreat for our book club members.
Still not enough book ideas? This MomAdvice Summer Reading Guide has you covered!
Have any questions about reading for free on your Kindle device or app? Leave them below and I will be happy to answer them. Happy FREE reading, everyone!
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