Who gets ebooks from their local library? How's that working for you?

I’m torn between a Kindle and a Nook. The sole advantage of a Nook, near as I can tell, is it’s compatibility with public local libraries.

Which, to me, seems like a huge advantage.

But only if the process works efficiently. My library is going to start offering ebooks through overdrive.com on March 1.

A few questions come to mind:

If you have had such experience, has it been satisfactory? How, exactly, does it work? How about book availability? Do you have access to the book for just a limited time? Are current books available?

Is overdrive.com the standard for library ebooks?


I just started getting library books on my e-reader and the only complaint I have is that when I looked at what the library offered there was very little actually available. I guess it’s just too popular.

You do only get the books for a limited time. How long would depend on your library.

The first time I got a book it was a bit confusing but after I got it figured out it’s easy.

Sony Reader works great with my library’s ebook rental. Selection is somewhat limited, though.

Librarian here, who is actually going to be teaching a class on Overdrive and the Nook in the not too distant future.

  1. Download Abode Digital Editions on your PC
  2. Download eBook from library
  3. Plug in Nook
  4. Download eBook to Nook
  5. Start Reading

That’s the basic gist and your library should have instructions on how it works for your particular system.

Depends entirely on the library and what they buy from Overdrive.

Yes, after the loan period ends, the eBook can no longer be opened on your Nook.

Again, depends entirely on what your library plans to buy from Overdrive.


Our library has Overdrive, and while I would sometimes download a book and read it on my computer now that I found the Overdrive App for Iphone I use it a lot more.

I find it works reasonably well. We have a pretty good selection going, and while I have sometimes not been able to download them right away there is a setup to put a hold on the book. Once the person who has it ‘out’ reaches the end of the borrowing period* it becomes available and if I have a hold on it I get an email telling me I have 3 days from the time of the email to download before the hold expires and it either becomes up for grabs or moves to the next name on the list. The most I’ve seen on the waiting list is 2-3 people.

I find the app works fairly well, but it was a bit of a pain to set up my library on it initially. I couldn’t just type in the ebook address to add it to my favourites list I had to go to the Overdrive website first, find my library from a list, and download a book before it would add it, all on my phone which at that time was having none of it.

*Our borrowing period is max 21 days, but you can adjust it lower if you know you’ll read it within the time frame.

I have cards for three libraries in the area (and access to my sister-in-law’s, too). I’ve found that I can get quite a lot, but I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. You can use http://search.overdrive.com/ to see if something is available near you.

My wife has a nook and uses the ebooks from the library. We have found the selection is somewhat limited, but is getting better all the time. We live in Kentucky and our library is part of a group called Kentucky Libraries Unbound. I am not sure exactly how it works, but it seems like a cooperative of the libraries, so that anyone that is a member of any of the libraries can borrow an ebook from any of them.

If the book has reached the maximum number of checkouts, you do have to place it on hold like a real book, and then download it when it becomes available. Our default checkout period is 21 days, but it can be set shorter, so that other people waiting for the book will have it available sooner.

I must have missed something- why would there be a waiting list for an e-book? It’s not like it’s a physical thing.

The library only buys so many licenses for each ebook. Once they’ve lent out all the copies they have licensed, they have to wait until someone ‘returns’ one.

Is there any difference between EPUB and PDF versions?



Basically, PDF shows you a page the way the author composed it. Great if your screen size compares well to the author’s selected page size. You see exactly what the author intended. Not so hot if the page was composed for a wider screen than you will use when reading. You either do a lot of scrolling back and forth or zoom out, possibly making the text too small for comfort.

EPUB “reflows” and formats the text to fit your screen, like most web pages or like working in a word processor. For regular text, this is often a more comfortable reading experience. But for verse, mathematics, technical text, etc., the reformatting can sometimes cause a real mess.

For casual reading, I’d generally rather have EPUB.

We too have overdrive availability, but I’m finding the selection that works on the iPod Touch is truly wretched. There were more available when I used a Palm Pilot - which used a pdf format vs. epub.

Anyway - it’s not fantastic but it’s better than nothing. Personally I’m holding off on choosing any dedicated ebook reader until I see the Kindle offering loans, or I’m more convinced of B&N’s long-term stability.

Right. Oh - and you can’t “return” one early - it’s “yours” for the full 3 weeks (or whatever). Nor can you renew it if someone else is in line; you have to get back in queue if you want to borrow it again.

I need to go look at my computer at home, but I’m reasonable certain that within the Adobe Digital Editions tool there’s an option to return a book.

ETA: Yes, from Adobe

Pork Rind - thanks for the correction. I was just going by the fact that when I deleted it from my iPod, the Overdrive page still showed it as checked out. I will have to look more carefully for how to release them to other borrowers.

Hmm. So you can’t “keep” it longer while paying the penalty like a physical book. That kinda stinks. So does not being able to return it early; sometimes I do return books early, especially cookbooks.

The Kindle does offer loans, if the publisher allows, since late last fall. What it doesn’t do is library books.

e-Books (the ones that you read) can be returned early from Adobe Digital Editions. e-Audiobooks (the ones you listen to) can not be returned, and will stay on your record until they expire.

Most libraries that have OverDrive have both types.

Just to be clear, both of these facts are by design, and that design is done at the behest of the publishers, not the libraries.

A librarian who’s really tired of people who happily admit that they don’t understand the first thing about computers somehow thinking they should be able to use a Nook with no problem.