I’ve had a Kindle for a long time — I had one of the first versions through work, long before I had a smartphone or iPad, and thought it was great (but something I’d not have spent the $400 on myself.) As time went on, I found myself reading more on my iPad once I got it, and then I started getting annoyed by reading on my ipad, because I’d be reading along and a banner alert would pop up that I had a new email, or it was my turn in a game, or someone had a tweet for me. I missed reading on the Kindle without distractions (but I loved that I could read on the iPad in the dark). This Christmas, I got a new paperwhite, which is the best Kindle ever.
And while it IS true that I spend more on e-books now than I do on paper books, and read paper books less, one of the things that I LOVE about the Kindle’s evolution is that now you can read library books on it. You couldn’t do that when the first Kindle came out. And the books you can read aren’t just B list books — right now I’m reading Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, and I’m reading the second Harry Potter book aloud to Ingrid, for example. Downloading the books is SO EASY, all you need is a library card. For me, I use my work provided one (the university is a partner library) but you can use your municipal library card as well, in most areas. (And for Maine, anyone Mainer can have a Bangor Public Library card, so truly, anyone can use this system.)
Here’s how it works*:
- Go to the website: http://download.maineinfonet.org/
- Browse around. I don’t do audiobooks, so I like to browse by category, or sometimes I’ll search for a specific title.
- Flag books that look interesting (this doesn’t create a hold or check them out, it just makes a list, so I get pretty flag-happy) This is where you’ll be prompted to sign in with your account – just find your library, and enter your card number. (For us at HU, you have to add “HUS0000” to the beginning of your number, so it will look like “HUS0000#####”) You may need to check with your local library to see if there are any identifiers you need to add. A tip – when I first did this, I saved the link to the download library and titled it with my ID number, so I didn’t have to keep looking it up.
- You can search for just Kindle books, or for ePubs, etc. There are ways to get ePubs onto a Kindle that are….. not exactly endorsed by anyone, but if you Google you can decide for yourself if you want to proceed.
- When you find the book you want, you can check it out or place a hold.
- Checking out – if you choose Kindle, it will direct you to the Amazon website, and you can then click a button to download to your Kindle. If you have multiple devices, you can choose to download it to any of them. Some titles allow USB transfer to Kindle only, but I have not yet had to deal with that. Or, you can use the Overdrive app on a tablet or phone.
- Log in to your settings and make your default loan period two weeks. (It’s set to one week, and that’s just not enough time for me. You can always return a book early if you finish early.)
- When it’s available, you have a few days to check it out. Wait to check out until just before you start reading to maximize your loan period.
- If you don’t finish before the loan is up, go back to the site and re-download or place another hold. When it’s available again, and you open the book, it will be right where you left off.
- Holds may seem “long” but I haven’t found them to be in most cases. For instance, the Harry Potter book is always checked out, and it takes a long time to read aloud. I’m on the third checkout of the book, and when it expired on Friday and I placed a new hold, I was third in line, and the book was available by Sunday night. I don’t think I waited for more than a week for Lean In, and that had a lot of people ahead of me.
- New tip! 11/13: If you turn off your wifi, you can keep a book indefinitely on your Kindle, but it is ‘returned’ to the lending pool at the end of the loan period, so you aren’t holding up the waiting list like you would with a physical book. This wouldn’t work with a smartphone or iPad, so much, because they really rely on data for a lot of other things, but with a Kindle it’s very simple — navigate to the settings and turn wifi to off, and finish the book. Of course, as soon as you connect to wifi again, the book disappears, so you can’t add any OTHER books to your Kindle while it’s off the grid, but it’s a great hack to use when you are SOCLOSE to finishing a book.
I really love being able to use my paperwhite for library books. I have read stuff that I wouldn’t have necessarily wanted to spend money on, but that I still found interesting and worth the read. Here are the directions from the website on how to use the download library, and here’s a video explaining it as well:
*These instructions are specific to the Maine Infonet download library, but if your library uses Overdrive, they probably work for you, too.