This Library Hack Will Change The Way You Read Books On Your Phone

by Charlotte Ahlin

The world can be a discouraging place. There's war and famine, corruption in politics, widespread ecological destruction, and those silly new earbuds with no cord. But there is one shining ray of hope in the distance, one bright beacon to bring a little joy into your dull and listless life: you can rent free kindle and audiobooks from your local library. Millennials might be using the library more than any previous generation, but a shocking number of people, both young and old, are completely ignoring this library perk. Even if you're constantly on the go, you can still read just about any book your literary heart desires on your phone or Kindle for free. Here's how.

First of all, go get a library card, if you don't already have one. Yes, this will require actually walking into a physical library building with your own human body. I know we're all busy, but trust me, it's worth it. For most libraries, you can register for the card online, and then just swing by the front desk of your local library branch with a photo ID or proof of address and pick up your card in two minutes flat (two pieces of mail addressed to you should do it, if you don't have an ID with your address on it).

You now have a library card, and complete access to the whole of the literary world. Congratulations!

Next, double check to make sure that you have the Kindle app on your phone or computer (if you have an actual Kindle, you may simply sit there smugly). If not, don't sweat it: the app is free for both Android and Apple phones.

If you have an Amazon account, you should also be able to access your Kindle books online from any device through the Kindle Cloud Reader. Go to to find it, and log in with your account info.

Now that you have a Kindle or Kindle app at the ready, take a moment to envision yourself leisurely flipping through e-books on your morning train commute, instead of staring vacantly into a businessman's armpit.

Then go to

Overdrive is a magical hub of Kindle books from libraries all across the country. Simply click the big red "Find libraries near you" button on the home page, and then search for your local library by name or zip code. Once it pops up on the map, click "Visit Library Website" to be whisked away to the Kindle books section of your local library.

You should now be looking at a catalog of beautiful, shiny Kindle books. You'll be able to search for specific titles or authors, or simply browse the virtual shelves until something jumps out at you. All the books are labelled as either "Available," meaning you can read them right now, or "Wait List," meaning that you can put a hold on the title and have it downloaded to your phone instantly as soon as it becomes available.

Click "Borrow" or "Place a hold" on the title you're interested in. You'll be asked to enter your library card number, and/or the four digit pin you chose when signing up for your library card. Once you've logged in, you should see that you have the option to "Read now with Kindle" or "Download EPUB eBook." Choose the Kindle option, unless you're a maverick with an alternate e-reader, in which case you can download all the EPUB eBooks you like.

The site will now take you to Amazon, where you can pick the device you'd like your book sent to (your phone, Kindle, computer, or Kindle Cloud Reader). Choose your device, click on "Get library book," open your Kindle or Kindle app and voilà! There is your library book, just waiting to be downloaded.

BUT WAIT, it gets even easier: if you want to download e-books on the go, as well as audiobooks for long drives and workouts, just get the Overdrive App or the Libby App for your phone (the two apps are the same, but Libby is slightly more streamlined and has a cute mascot).

Both the Overdrive and Libby apps are free and available from the Google Play or iTunes Store, and both will link you directly to your local library through the Overdrive system. Just download the app, enter your library card info, and rent audiobooks and e-books to your heart's content. Your app will notify you when your holds become available for download, and it will delete books when they're due back to the library so you never have to worry about late fees again. You can browse by title, author, or subject, create wish lists, and read or listen to a sample of a book before you commit. Essentially, you can carry the entire library around in your pocket for exactly zero dollars.

Now go forth and read.