e-book libraries with privileges for nonresidents?
October 12, 2019 8:24 PM   Subscribe

Are there e-book lending libraries I can join that I don't have to show residence? I'm not talking about the public domain stuff like gutenberg. I know gutenberg, I love gutenberg, but that's not what I mean. I mean a lending library where I can check out e-books like I do from my local libraries.

I have memberships at my local libraries. At each one, I walked in, I filled out forms, I got a card with a number. Now I can borrow e-books from those libraries. Which is great and I'm grateful (and I pay my taxes and drop bills in the donation box and lobby Congress for library funding etc.) Ok. But I want more.

Are there any libraries that lend English language e-books, that I can get memberships at, where I don't have to walk in (and don't have to show residence?) Preferably in kindle format, as something has happened to bork my CloudLibrary app and it doesn't display right anymore.

When I've googled this, I get pointed to free online content resources, which are not likely to have the books I want. I'm talking about membership libraries.
posted by fingersandtoes to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
Open Library from the Internet Archive. How do you feel about spending a small amount of money. Because many libraries in Vermont allow non-residents to get cards, though many also require you to walk in. BUT, some places will allow you to get a non-resident card for not too much money (maybe $20/year) and you can get ebooks as well as access to online databases and etc. I don't know which libraries are super lax about this sort of thing. Library ebook vendors really discourage it and so people tend to not talk publicly about it and definitely not somewhere where it's Googleable (and this isn't me being coy, I literally don't know). It may be that your state or county library has an option that will give you slightly more options. You can convert any format to Kindle format using Calibre or other software so I wouldn't worry too much about format stuff, you have a lot more options if you can also read EPUBs.
posted by jessamyn at 8:30 PM on October 12, 2019 [6 favorites]

Hah! I made an Open Library account and they even have exactly the book I was just looking for. Awesome! But I downloaded it, to my desktop, and the format is umm a bit hard to read (on Adobe digital editions which I also just downloaded and installed.) Is there an app I could use to read this file on an ipad? Thanks Jessamyn.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:44 PM on October 12, 2019

ok it's looking better on the ipad. And I'll look at calibre. Thanks again.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:54 PM on October 12, 2019

Here's someone who's done some research on this to find libraries where you can get an out-of-state library card (for a fee) and supposedly be able to check out ebooks. It may or may not be exhaustive. No guarantee these will all actually allow ebook checkout with an out-of-state card, but it appears that at least some do. I'd certainly check with each one to be certain before paying any fee.
posted by ClingClang at 9:00 PM on October 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don't know what Calibre is and when I looked at the app store there were a bunch of things that sound like they could be it but I don't know which is on point? Help
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:01 PM on October 12, 2019

Link for Calibre

It's meant for computers rather than apps (though you can get at minimum the commandline version running on Android...)
posted by trig at 9:28 PM on October 12, 2019

I should point out that you might not be able to convert library books with Calibre if they have DRM (digital rights management restrictions on use), unless you remove the DRM first. Not sure where the legality stands on that today; whether you see any ethical issues in checking out a library book in one format and reading it in another is your call. Regardless, that's also something that can be done automatically from within Calibre with the help of a plug-in. Instructions here (don't be daunted by the length - it's a one-time setup).

(Also - the last bit of the previous comment should read "computers rather than mobile devices")
posted by trig at 9:44 PM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Calibre is ABSOLUTELY worth setting up and the time to learn it. About an hour to figure out. The DRM removal thing is a pest the first time you set it up and then it works and you own books you have bought and can read them on all your damn devices. I promise you, make a cup of coffee and set to Calibre with youtube tutorials and grim determination and you will not regret it.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:55 PM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Colleges and universities often offer library access to their alums. If you’ve an alma mater, you might see if that’s an option.
posted by mumkin at 10:43 PM on October 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Are there e-book lending libraries I can join that I don't have to show residence? I'm not talking about the public domain stuff like gutenberg. I know gutenberg, I love gutenberg, but that's not what I mean. I mean a lending library where I can check out e-books like I do from my local libraries.

YES! YES THERE ARE! (Sorry, but I was enormously over excited by this.) Several libraries let you access their Overdrive inventory, which you access through the Libby app or website. Here is a list.

(Fairfax is the best deal but the link to register has moved and I can't find it; Monroe County does work.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:49 AM on October 13, 2019 [7 favorites]

My town will let non-residents get a card with full privileges but it costs $100+
posted by wenestvedt at 4:02 AM on October 13, 2019

Hey great about Open Library. The big deal is that you can get a PDF or an EPUB. PDFs can be really tiny on a phone but can be OK on an iPad. The app I suggest usually is BlueFire Reader which is hoping to be able to make the shift to actually offering books in the app as well as being a reader for other books.
posted by jessamyn at 7:26 AM on October 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Chicago Public Library has an online-only card, and does not appear to validate addresses before issuing cards.
posted by timepiece at 8:41 AM on October 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

aw yeaaaaahhhhhh thanks all
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:23 AM on October 13, 2019

I'm pretty sure the Chicago Public Library does not allow non-residents to check out ebooks. I used to be able to check out ebooks from the CPL but then the option was no longer available to me. This may have changed in the years since I last used my card though.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 9:30 AM on October 13, 2019

Well, I got my Chicago online-only card last year. They asked for an address, I provided one in Chicago, and a minute later I had a number to log in with. I did not have to wait for a postcard to be delivered to my physical address or anything like that.
posted by timepiece at 2:04 PM on October 13, 2019

There was an article just a few weeks ago about the Broward County Library, and how they offer ebooks and audiobooks to anyone who signs up for a virtual card. No fees!!
posted by jenny76 at 8:17 AM on October 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

FYI, I just signed up for a Chicago online only card with a random Chicago address and was able to access their Overdrive catalog immediately. Same with Broward County (no address required).

I have an eCard at the Escondido Library/Serra Cooperative Library that didn't need address verification, but their catalog is kind of small.

Here is a very comprehensive list. It may be worth checking some of the larger systems to see if they offer eCards without address verification.
posted by natabat at 9:17 AM on October 14, 2019

The library I work for has an online-only card but it's tied to the ZIP code where your cell phone bill goes. I'm guessing many of these others will have a similar restriction...?
We do allow non-resident cards for a fee of only $5 but you have to come in person to sign up.
posted by exceptinsects at 11:00 AM on October 14, 2019

Hoopla and Overdrive are both related to your local library but allow books to be borrowed anywhere.
posted by radsqd at 12:53 PM on October 14, 2019

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