How to Be Well-Read Without Spending a Dime

How To Be Well-Read Without Spending A Dime

I love to read and I often recommend it as a daily practice for personal growth. But how do you stay well-read if you’re tight on cash or even tight on time? Books, after all, can be expensive, especially if you want to read the latest best sellers. And, sometimes, you just don’t have time for two trips to the library – one trip to borrow and one trip to return.

But what if I told you you could read to your heart’s content without spending a dime or hours of your time at a local bookstore or library? In fact, in the past month I’ve read Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra, I’ve listened to the audiobook of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and I’m currently reading Brene Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) – all for free and without stepping one foot outside of my house.

I’m sure you’re thinking: There has to be a catch! or Melissa’s just trying to sell me on some free trial subscription I’ll eventually have to pay for monthly.

No and no.

Honestly, I’m always surprised that more people don’t know this little secret exists, so let me explain.

Believe it or not, your local library is more sophisticated than you might think. Many libraries now have the option of loaning out ebooks and audiobooks from an app you can download to your smartphone or tablet.

Yes, it’s true!

And while I can’t guarantee this option is available at all libraries, I think it’s going to become more and more common as we plow ahead in this digital age. That’s why I want you to know about it now!

My local library uses an app called Libby, so for simplification I’m going to explain step-by-step how to setup and use Libby to borrow ebooks and audiobooks for free. However, you’ll want to check with your local library to find out what app they currently use for this service.

(Disclosure: I am not being paid by Libby, its developers or any other entity to provide this information. This is purely a personal recommendation from me to you and not a paid review or endorsement of Libby.) 

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Step 1: Get a Library Card

If you don’t already have a library card from your local library, it’s pretty simple to get one. Usually all you have to do is bring a valid state issued ID or driver’s license to your library, and you’ll walk out in less than five minutes with a shiny new library card.

Step 2: Download Libby

You can download the free Libby app onto your smartphone or tablet from the App Store, Google Play or Microsoft. Just search for “Libby” and install it on your device.

Step 3: Add Your Local Library

Open the app and click on the black and white Libby icon in the upper right hand corner. You should see the option to “Add A Library.” Follow the prompts to search for and select your local library.

Step 4: Add Your Library Card

Once you’ve added your library, you should immediately see an option to “Sign In With My Library Card.” Follow the prompts to add your library card number.

Step 5: Search For a Book

After you’ve setup your library and library card information, you can start borrowing from the digital library. Simply navigate to the home screen of the app, select “Search For A Book” at the top of the screen, and type in the name of an author or a book you’d like to read. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Keep in mind this is a digital library, so the selection and availability of books will change over time.

Step 6: Borrow a Book

When you’ve found the ebook or audiobook you are looking for, click “Borrow” and you’ll have access to it on your smartphone or tablet for 21 days – just like you would a normal library book!

Step 6.5: Place a Hold

If you’ve found an ebook that is currently loaned out to someone else, you can be added to the waitlist simply by clicking “Place Hold.” This way, the moment the book becomes available again, Libby will automatically borrow it for you and email you a notification.

Step 7: Send to Your Kindle

I personally own a Kindle E-reader and prefer reading books on it instead of on my phone. Libby does provide the option to send the ebook to your Kindle. Just go to your “Shelf,” click “Manage Loan,” then “Send to Device” and follow the prompts.

Step 8: Read Your Book

The ebook or audiobook will be available on your Libby “Shelf” (or on your e-reader) for 21 days. To read or listen directly from the app, just go to your “Shelf” and click “Open Book” or “Open Audiobook.”

Step 9: Return or Renew Your Book

The good news here is your book will be returned to the digital library automatically on its due date, even if you sent it to your Kindle. However, if the due date is approaching and you’re not quite finished, you can always go to “Manage Loan” and click “Renew Loan” to keep the ebook or audiobook a little longer.

So there you have it! A whole library of free books at your fingertips…literally!

Libby has a lot of other features I didn’t mention here, so I encourage you to check out Libby Help if you have more questions.

Happy Reading!

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