Borrowing e-books from NYPL

I feel like I just discovered some sort of superpower. And I can’t believe I’m only now jumping on this when others have probably known this secret for a while now: You can borrow e-books (and audiobooks) from your local library. You don’t even need to leave home (well, except to get a library card if you don’t already have one).

To get going, you’ll need to link your library card – NYPL, in my case – to an app like OverDrive’s Libby. Then, you place holds as you would physical books, and depending on the number of books your library can let out, you’ll be put on a wait list. After a book is borrowed, you can also have the app send them to your Kindle, so you can read them alongside books you’ve also bought on Amazon. This is quite nice, because you can stick with the device and reading app you most prefer, as opposed to being forced into a new reading experience inside Libby (as great as it is).

Now that we nearly always seem to have Baby in hand, I’ve been getting into audiobooks as well. The great part about using an app like Libby is that you can borrow audiobooks for free from your library too. There’s a place-hold/wait/borrow flow similar to e-books.


  • you don’t have to spend $25+ on an audiobook;
  • the library hold queue is nice because you can just add books as you come across them, and Libby will alert you once it’s been borrowed;
  • the 14-day or so hold periods are nice because they force you to read or listen to a book and give you a short window in which to do it. If you don’t like a particular book, it more quickly gets you to a state where you say, “I think I’ll just return it”, instead of trying to slog through it.


  • bookmarks and highlights work, but you’ll have to borrow the book again to find out what they were. So for some books in particular, especially those you want to come back to and re-read, you’ll probably just want to buy the physical or Kindle copy.

I’m only a few weeks into the year and I realize I’m on leave, but I’ve already gotten through six books using this method so far.