Free Audio Books and eBooks at Your Library

In these tough economic times, we’re all looking for ways to cut back on expenses. Well, there’s a money saving card in your wallet – way at the back because you haven’t used it in a while. That’s right, it’s time to dig out the old library card. We all know that libraries loan out books for free, but it still seems like there are a lot more people shopping at the local bookstore or online at Amazon than at the library. Maybe it’s because they don’t always have enough copies of the latest books. Or maybe it’s that we forget to return books and then get charged a late fee. It’s time to take another look, because libraries are quickly becoming as friendly as the internet.

My local county library has contracted with a company call OverDrive, which offers AudioBooks and eBooks for download. Here’s how it works. The library has a certain number of copies of each book available. For example, my library has 21 copies of Eragon on AudioBooks. Anyone with a library card can go online and check out one of these copies. You download it to your computer, where it will stay for 14 days, at which time it expires. You don’t have to find the book and drive back to the library or risk a late fee. While it’s on your computer, you can listen to it, or if the license allows, you can burn it to CD or to your iPod! All of this is free to you!

If all 21 copies are checked out, you can put your name on the waiting list and you’ll be notified when the book becomes available. You can see the number of people in line ahead of you and how many copies the library has available, so it’s pretty easy to figure out when it will be your turn.

OverDrive also offers eBooks. This is a lot like the Kindle Books available from Amazon. You would have to purchase a reader, like the Sony Reader, which costs about $300. Then you could download books, magazines and newspapers to read on your mobile device. Most libraries don’t offer eBooks yet. They seem to be starting with AudioBooks to see how popular it is. If you’re interested in this option, let your library know. The more requests they get, the more likely it is that they’ll make it available.

Go to OverDrive.com to find out whether your library offers AudioBooks or eBooks, or go straight to your library’s website. If your library doesn’t offer this service, let them know that you’d like them to. Then make sure you have a library card!