Two people reading in bed.

I Get 90% Of My Books for Free with This App

Amazon isn’t the only game in town.

“You need to try this app. You’ll love it.”

My wife and sister were trying, and failing, to convince me to download another app. But I had enough apps and didn’t want any more. Yet they persisted, “Instead of buying all those books, you can get them for free through the app.”

I sighed, “Eh… I already use Audible for audiobooks. I’m on the annual subscription and have more than enough credits to last. And I like buying physical books. So… I’m good for now.” They shrugged and that was that.

Still, I was curious after our talk. Was I making a mistake? I eventually downloaded the app. At first, I was critical. It either didn’t have the book I wanted or it did but it wasn’t available for some time. If I wanted a book, I reasoned, I wanted it now. I didn’t want to wait three weeks for it. By then, my attention would have turned elsewhere.

It wasn’t until my Audible credits ran out that I truly gave Libby a fair shot.


A library on your phone

Libby by OverDrive is the app my wife and sister spoke so highly of.

The app connects to your local library. Suddenly you have access to its entire catalog of digital material. Meaning, whatever audio and Ebooks the library has available, you have access to. From your phone. For free. Entirely above board.

I didn’t grasp the full extent of this until I ran out of Audible credits. I had several months until my plan renewed and I didn’t want to pay for bonus credits. So I began to mess around with the Libby app. It took me a moment to realize the capability behind it, but once I did, I was hooked.

Imagine you walk into your local library. You find the book you want and borrow it for a few weeks. That is exactly what happens with Libby. Except the selection is seemingly much larger and you don’t have to go into the actual library. Instead, you can download any Ebook or Audiobook directly to your phone through the app.


Minor inconveniences

Because I read so much, Libby has saved me a tremendous amount of money. It’s not perfect though. That said, the two biggest issues I’ve found have to do more with the library system as opposed to specifically Libby.

The first problem is that they don’t have everything. Amazon has everything. Your local library isn’t Amazon. So that one obscure, niche book may not be available on Libby. I have been pleasantly surprised though by what it does have. Second, you often have to wait for the book to become available. Remember, it’s like borrowing a book from the library.

Someone may have it out right now and a list of five people may be queued up behind them. I’ve waited weeks for some books in high demand. At first, I saw this as a nuisance. I was used to the instantaneous purchases of Amazon. Now, it doesn’t bother me as much. In fact, I see it as a fun surprise when a book becomes available.

After all, I’m normally on the waitlist for a dozen books at a given time. When one becomes ready, it’s like a present arrives in the mail.


Great finds

One thing you may need to look into with Libby is accessibility. As in, I’m not sure if Libby is available outside the US. From there, you need to get a library card. Which, I know, I know, is a hassle. At least, that’s what I thought it would be. Turns out, it’s not. I went online to my local library and got one within minutes. From there, I could start reading. It was surprisingly straightforward.

Libby is free, easy, and useful.

It is a great app and I wish I had listened to my wife and sister earlier. And I’m not just saying that. Libby isn’t paying me to write this and neither is the US library system. I just think it’s a great app that not enough people know about.

Additionally, because the books are free to download, I’ve experimented much more with my reading choices. In the past, I was very careful about the books I purchased. If I got a physical book I didn’t like, it would be a chore to return it. If I bought an audiobook I didn’t like, sometimes they would make me call customer service in order to get refunded.

Either way, it was a hassle so I always made safe bets with what I bought.

But with Libby, it’s all free. Download a book because you like the cover if you want. If it’s good, keep reading it. If it’s not, return it and get something else. One thing I’ve been doing lately is messing around with their filters. For instance, I’ll seek out:

  • Audiobooks,
  • That are science-fiction,
  • And are available right now.

That’s been a fun way to stumble upon books I had no idea existed.


Move forward with Libby

I just recently did this and found a book I enjoyed and have since recommended to a number of people. I searched for non-fiction audiobooks available now in the spirituality genre. From there, I came across The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Carlton Abrams.

It was great.

That’s how I came across other great reads like Recursion by Blake Crouch and Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots. Books I likely would not have read had I not come across them spontaneously on Libby. And that was just me looking for books on the fly.

As of this writing, I probably get 90% of all my books through Libby now. Sometimes it happens serendipitously like how I just described. Other times I’m looking for something specific. Regardless, when it’s time to get a new book, my go-to is Libby.

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