Stop spending so much money on e-books. Do this instead

E-books are a cheaper alternative to their hardcover and paperback brethren, but it’s an even more affordable way to enjoy reading. An app called Libby connects your e-reader to your local public library so you can borrow e-books instead of buying them.

According to a 2022 Gallup poll, the average American reads about 13 books a year. Some e-books, like Babel by RF Kuang, cost around $5. That means you can save about $65 a year by borrowing e-books from your library instead of buying them. And if you’re a voracious reader who reads more than one book a month, you can save more.

How to read e-books from your local public library with Libby.

Getting started with Libby

You can download the Libby app for your phone or tablet from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

After it has finished downloading, enter Libby and you will be prompted to connect to your local public library. Libby was created by OverDrive, a digital reading platform connected to over 90% of all public libraries in North America.

How to connect to your local public library in Libby.

1. Open Libby on your device.

2. Use the prompts to search for your local public library.

3. Enter your library card information.

After entering your library card information, you can begin browsing the e-books available from your local library.

How Libby works

Borrowing e-books from your local public library through Libby is similar to borrowing physical copies of books from the library. You search for an e-book in the app, and if it’s available, you can check it out and start reading it on your device now.

If the e-book is in the library system, but it has already been checked out by someone else, you can place a hold on the e-book. Libby will also show you an estimated wait time for the e-book. When the e-book is available, your library will notify you.

Unlike physical books, the e-books you borrow are automatically returned when they are due in two to three weeks, saving you potential late fees.

Kindle before books

All of these books can fit on an e-reader such as a Kindle.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Using Libby with a Kindle

You can use Libby with Amazon’s Kindlealso. However, this process is a bit more involved, because in most cases you need to have the Libby app on a separate device, such as your smartphone.

How to borrow e-books with Libby for Kindle.

1. After finding your local public library and entering your library card information into Libby from another device, tap the menu icon at the top right of the screen.

2. Press Read books with.

3. Press Kindle.

Now when you go to borrow an e-book for your Kindle, you’ll be taken to the Amazon page for that e-book.

Before borrowing from Amazon, make sure you’re signed in to the account associated with the Kindle you’re trying to read on. You should also make sure that the e-book is sent to the correct Kindle and not another device connected to your account. There is a drop down menu on the Amazon page that shows which device your e-book will be delivered to. Tap the drop-down menu and select the correct device.

When you are sure that the e-book will be sent to the correct device, press Get library bookand the e-book will be on your Kindle the next time it connects to Wi-Fi.

You can also download Libby for Kindle Fire. This is how.

1. Open Silk Browser and tap this link to find Libby APK download link. Tap that download link.

2. Your device may warn you about the file, saying it’s “unknown.” According to Libby, the file has been tested to ensure it is safe for your device, so you can dismiss this warning. Press Continue, OK or Allowdepending on which answer is displayed and allows you to continue.

3. Once the file is downloaded, tap Open. If this option doesn’t appear, tap the three vertical dots at the top right of the Silk browser, tap Downloads and then tap the file kindlefireapk.apk.

4. You may see a message that your device does not have permission to install “unknown apps”. If you see this message, press Settings and toggle the switch next to it Allow this source. Otherwise, you skip to step 6.

5. Press Back.

6. Press Install.

Once the app has finished installing, you will be prompted to open the app, or you can return to the home screen and tap the Libby icon to open the app.

If you had to change the settings on your Kindle Fire when installing Libby (step 4 above), you should change your settings back so that you don’t install malicious apps. This is how.

1. From the home screen, tap Settings.

2. Press Apps and notifications.

3. Press Special app access.

4. Press Install unknown apps.

5. Press Silk browser.

6. Turn off the switch next to it Allow this source.

Now you can save money by borrowing e-books directly from your local public library. Happy reading!

For more, here’s CNET’s best e-readers in 2023 and best tablet in 2023.

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