Check it out at the library
Another way to read great eBooks for free is to visit your local library online. Many libraries allow you to check out eBooks. It’s very similar to checking out a book in the actual library. You are allowed to keep the book for a limited amount of time. There are no late fees because, unlike the hard copy, once your time is up, the book will simply disappear.
You don’t need money, but you do need a library card. Generally speaking, the card will need to be from your local library. For example, I have a card that is good for the Boulder Public Library system. This allows me to download books from the Front Range Downloadable Library. The supported formats are Kindle, Adobe EPUB and Adobe PDF. Audiobook downloads are available in the MP3 and WMA formats. The lending period is 14 days.
This is all sounds great, and it is, but, just like checking out a hard copy, the number of available eBook copies are limited. For example, there are long wait lists for currently popular books like “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” and “The Tiger’s Wife.” But after some browsing around, you can probably find a title you like.
Give and take with Kindle loans
Let’s say you’ve just read a really good book on your Kindle and would like to loan it to a friend who also owns a Kindle. A large number of Amazon books are available to loan out. These don’t tend to be the big sellers, but those aren’t always the best books anyway.
To loan out a book, you’ll need to log into your account on Amazon and go to the Manage Your Kindle page. In your Kindle Library, you’ll notice pull-down menus marked “Actions” to the right of each book. If a book is available to loan, you will see “Loan this title” in the menu. Click on that and follow the instructions.
Kindle books can be loaned for a period of 14 days. During that period, you will not have access to your book. It’s the same as if you loaned the hard copy to a friend, except you are guaranteed its eventual return.
I don’t know about other eReaders and would be happy to hear if they, too, allow loans.
Borrowing and loaning are great ways to look into books and authors you’re uncertain about without having to make a permanent commitment. It takes a little extra effort but, hey, it’s free.
Don’t know if your local library provides eBooks? The library’s website should have more information. Another resource is Overdrive. Enter your zip code and you’ll be directed to a list of local libraries that provide eBooks.