Friday, May 30, 2014

How to get FREE audio and Kindle books

Both the Alameda Free Library and the San Francisco Public Library offer a significant number of eBooks--electronic books. I've been listening to downloaded audio books, and reading Kindle books, for free, for a few years now.

I'll deal with Kindle books first. I have an iPad with a (free) Kindle app on it. To get a Kindle book, I first go to the Overdrive site for my library. In this case, I'll show you the San Francisco Public Library's site.

Overdrive site for San Francisco Public Library
(Side note: you can get a San Francisco Public Library card just by filling out an application and appearing in person, with ID, to pick up the card. Free except for the price of transportation. I highly recommend filling out the application online to save time.)

You log in with your library card number and PIN, and it takes you to your home page.

Main Overdrive page
From there, you find a book to take out. Note that books that are available have a dark "open book" symbol, whereas those that are not currently available have a greyed-out symbol. Even if a book isn't available, it's possible that it'll be available soon. You can check on this by going to that book's page and looking on the lower right for the number of copies and the number of patrons on the hold list. Everyone has a maximum of 3 weeks' checkout (renewable only if there is no one on the hold list), so a title can be available rather quickly.
Available book. Note Copies info at lower right.

Or, in the case of something new and popular, it can take weeks. I like to put several books on hold and see what might come up.
Unavailable book. (big surprise) Note patrons-on-hold info at lower right.

You put a book on hold by going to its page and clicking "Place a Hold" (if it's unavailable) or "Borrow" (if it is). If it's available, you're shown your Holds page, with the borrowed book shown.
Latest book borrowed will be at upper left.
When you click the Download button, you usually have the option of selecting a desired format. Choose Kindle Book, then Confirm & Download.

You'll be sent to the site. If you're already logged in, you should see a screen like this:

Amazon checkout screen. Your Kindle devices will be in the "Deliver to:" drop-down menu.

Select the Kindle or thing-with-Kindle-app from the dropdown menu, then "Get library book."

That's it! The next time you sync your Kindle or Kindle app, you'll have the new book. (Don't forget to tap the book title to download while you have WiFi if you intend to read it away from WiFi.)

Once a previously unavailable book becomes available, the email tells you which book is now available and includes a link to get back to the site quickly. Log in again, and it'll go right to your holds page. Note that if you don't snag the book quickly, it'll go back into circulation. This is similar to putting paper books on hold; if you don't get them in a few days, they'll be removed from the hold shelf and returned to circulation.

You can check on unavailable books on the holds page. Your user number will decrease as books are returned.

I'll be waiting a long time to read Divergent.

Next, I'll show you how to return a Kindle book. It's very easy.

No comments: