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How to borrow library books with your Kindle

I own a Kindle Paperwhite. I love my Kindle Paperwhite. It allows me to be more sustainable with my reading habits, makes reading more convenient and transportable, and is overall the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received. Also, it’s very pretty.

However, I don’t love that buying from the Kindle store means that I’m buying from Amazon and thus helping to further line Jeff Bezos’ pockets. Until he pays his workers a living wage, cooperates in redistributing his wealth, and allows his employees to unionize, I want to spend as little money supporting him as possible.

Which is why it’s pretty fantastic that you can use your Kindle to borrow and place holds on e-books from your local library! It’s a very simple and quick process; all you need is a library card and Wi-Fi connection. Here’s how you do it:

Note: Unfortunately, as of April 2021, this is only available for libraries in the U.S.

Need a library card?

If you already have a library card, skip ahead to the next section. If not, you have two options:

  1. If you’re reading this post-pandemic (lucky you), you can go to your local branch in-person to apply for a card. Make sure you check your library’s website ahead of time for any materials you’ll need to bring with you — most branches require a government-issued photo ID and proof of residency for your application.
  2. If you’re reading this during COVID-19 times, many libraries are offering e-cards or temporary digital access cards — check your local branch’s website to see what they’re offering. (In case it’s helpful, here are the e-card applications for the San Francisco Public Library, LA Public Library, and New York Public Library.) All you’ll need is your home/mailing address, birth date, and ID/driver’s license number.

Find your library’s OverDrive site

OverDrive is the platform most libraries use to supply their patrons with e-books and audiobooks, and each library system has its own OverDrive site — this is where you’ll be able to browse e-book catalogues and borrow and reserve books; it’s essentially your library’s e-book library. You can find your library system’s OverDrive here.

Once you find your library, you’ll be directed to its OverDrive site and will need to sign in with your library card number and PIN. You’ll then be able to browse your library’s digital collection to your heart’s content — you can either do this in your web browser or by downloading OverDrive’s mobile app, Libby, onto your phone.

Borrow your books

Once you find a book you want to read, click the “Borrow” button. It should look like this:

Once you click “Borrow,” you’ll be shown a pop-up window that allows you to choose how long you’d like to keep your book. Keep in mind that different libraries may have different borrowing options; my library, the San Francisco Public Library, allows you to borrow books for a maximum of 21 days.

Once you click “Borrow” in the pop-up window, you’ll see another pop-up window that will show you a “Read now with Kindle” button:

Press that button, and you’ll be taken to the book’s Amazon page. Make sure you’re signed in to the Amazon account that’s linked to your Kindle, and press the “Get Library Book” button:

Congratulations!

It’s as easy as that! The next time you turn on your Kindle and connect it to Wi-Fi, your library book will automatically download.

When you’re ready to return your book, you can either go to your Loans page on the OverDrive site and click the “Return” button, or you can just let the loan expire. There are no consequences for allowing an e-book to expire instead of manually returning it; it’ll just disappear from your Kindle library once your time’s up.

Placing a book on hold

What happens if you look up a book you’ve been dying to read and see the dreaded “Wait List” banner? You can place a hold! Click the “Place a Hold” button, and you’ll automatically be added to the queue and will receive an email once it’s available for you to download. Different libraries may have different borrowing limits, but the SFPL allows patrons to place holds on up to 25 books at a time.

You’ll also be able to see the number of copies of the book that have been checked out and your estimated wait time — the page will look like this:

A little-known perk of reading on the Kindle:

If your Kindle account is linked to your Goodreads account (which it probably is, since Amazon owns both, but if it isn’t, you can do that here), you can keep any highlights and notes you make in your library books forever, even after you’ve returned them to the library. You can access them through Goodreads by looking up the book, going to the “My Activity” tab, and going to your Notes:

The page will look like this:


That’s all there is to it!

Learning to borrow library books with my Kindle has been such a game-changer. My reading consumption has skyrocketed (almost alarmingly — y’all, I’ve already read 42 books this year and completed my Goodreads reading challenge. It’s literally April), and now, I can read books off my TBR for free, and if I end up really loving them and want to add them to my personal collection, I can buy them later. Here’s to saving some money, reducing consumption, and supporting our local libraries instead of our not-so-local billionaires!

13 Comments

  1. I use Libby for checking out my ebooks, but it’s a total game-changer! I wasn’t sure if you could share highlights or not before reading this, thanks so much for showing how to do it!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      • Aww that’s so sad. 😦 You can check around for libraries in other places, maybe. I don’t know how it works outside of California, but here you can apply for a library card anywhere in the state. Hope the ones near you get online resources soon!!❤❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Me too!! 😢 Here in India people are not very used to having online stuff in a lot of places. The big …like very big and popular libraries have started incorporating them, but they like miles away. Thank you!

        Like

  2. Pingback: Never Have I Ever – bookish edition + May TBR + a small request – The Doodlecrafter

  3. Pingback: How to borrow library books with your Kindle | Rosemerry Writes

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