We all know about purchasing books electronically for your iPhone and iPad but did you know you could save a lot of money if you just borrowed them instead? It makes sense when you think about it; libraries already provide a free way to borrow books in real life, so why not offer the same service for e-books? If you ask around at your local library you may find that it already provides a digital catalogue as an alternative means to borrow a book and if it doesn’t, there is a good chance that it has plans to do so in the near future. More libraries are extending their range of services to cover e-books and it is a great way to get a book, magazine or even audiobook on your device for free.
While many libraries will offer this service, they will usually partner up with a service provider to actually take care of loaning books out. Possibly the most popular one is OverDrive Digital Downloads, which is used by over 18,000 libraries worldwide and caters to millions of readers. You will need to check with your own library but this will probably be one of the options. Borrowing an e-book through OverDrive is an incredibly easy process that means you will never have to set foot in your library again, although personally I quite like visiting the library but it’s up to you.
To get started you will obviously need to open an account at your library but assuming you have one set up, you will be free to borrow a certain number of books at any one time and the same goes for e-books. You will then need to choose your e-reader and you can indeed opt to use Amazon’s Kindle service on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, otherwise OverDrive offers its own e-reader client, which is compatible across all of these platforms.
Once all of this has been set up you can move on to actually borrowing a book. There will be a library of e-books available that you can browse online and whether you use Safari in OS X or iOS it should work just fine. The process is simple; browse the books until you find one you like, in which case you can then download it. As is the case with real books, the number of each e-book available is limited but there is also an option to reserve books you wish to read that are currently all taken.
If a book is reserved then you will be notified on its availability, otherwise you can get on with downloading it. Depending on the choice you made, the book will either be downloaded to the OverDrive e-reader on your device or to your Amazon account, if you registered your library with it. Either way, once you have downloaded it you will be able to access it and read it the way you normally would with a purchased book, the only difference being that you have a time limit before it is returned and, best of all, it will be completely free.