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Home > Blog > May 2013 > New to Ebooks? Start Here

Congratulations on your new e-reader, tablet, or mobile device! We hope you enjoy borrowing digital items from the Free Library of Philadelphia. Here's a quick guide to get you on your way. 

First of all, finding digital items to check out on the Free Library's website is simple. You can start at the pink 'Download Media' button on our homepage or by taking a look at the video below that introduces our various digital platforms and shows you how to get around our site.

The majority of our best-sellers and in-demand ebook titles come from Overdrive. For an introduction on how to use the Overdrive service take a look at the video below.

Now that you know how to checkout an ebook, there are basically three ways to download them. The option that's right for you depends upon the type of device you own. Find a guide for each below...

1.  Downloading ebooks for tablets, phones, and mobile devices (Including Kindle Fire, Nook Color and Nook HD)

2.  Downloading ebooks for Kindle (excluding Kindle Fire)

3.  Downloading ebooks to a Nook (excluding Nook Tablets, Color, and HD) or other dedicated e-reader

 Finally, you may discover that not every ebook or audiobook you're interested in is currently available from the Free Library.  Find out why here.

Sun, July 28, 2013
I find it discouraging that I can't play Audio Download books with my computer, which has the Ubuntu 12.4 operating system. It's the fault of the Download company, which chooses not to make a program suitable for Ubuntu. Ubuntu is on many computers used by underprivileged kids. Some of us load the system up on old computers and make those computers available to poor kids. So how about putting some pressure on the company? Thanks for your consideration.
Lance Culp - canonsburg
Mon, January 13, 2014
I downloaded an e-book to my Kindlefire HDX7. Do I have to return (electronically wipe off with notification to FLP) or will it just runout and die on Kindle and be returned to library. I checked on Overdrive Media and they say how to do it but it doesn't work to return an item. Please advise John Landers
John Landers - Rockledge, PA
Tue, January 14, 2014
Hi John - Your library ebooks will be returned automatically once your loan period expires. There is no action required on your part. With Kindle though, the expired title may continue to be listed in your Kindle library - though you will not be able to open it. To delete expired titles from a Kindle login to your account at and go to Manage My Kindle. As always, if you need more assistance, send us an email at the 'contact us' link at the top right of this page.
Jamie W - Philadelphia
Sun, May 18, 2014
I am considering getting a Kindle or whatever. I assume the library has a limited quantity of each book title. Is the average wait time for an e-book any shorter than the average time for a real book?
Carolyn - Philadelphia
Mon, May 19, 2014
Hello Carolyn - You are correct. Ebooks work just like print books. So, if the library buys 10 or a certain title, we can lend them to 10 people. When those loans expire we can lend them out to the next 10 people and so on. There are waiting periods for popular titles in both print and digital format. How long the wait is varies greatly from title to title though and it is hard to make a generalization. However, as a basic rule, ebooks do not necessarily have shorter wait times. If you are unsure about whether or not you want to buy an e-reader, that should probably not be the deciding factor. I hope this response is helpful to you. Thanks!
Jamie W - Philadelphia
Wed, July 02, 2014
Can I download a book to my laptop computer? I have a vision problem and cannot use the traditional tablets due to the print being too small. I'm new to this, so bear with me! Thanks....
Toni - Philadelphia
Mon, July 07, 2014
Hello Toni - Yes, you can download ebooks to a PC or Mac computer. The simplest thing is to use the Overdrive READ in-browser reader to read ebooks in your web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.). Find instructions to get started here:
Jamie W - Philadelphia
Mon, March 30, 2015
can you explain to me why some books have a black book icon ( and I can borrow them) and some have a grey book icon (and I cannot click on them )? I am trying to read a series and some of the books are there but I cannot access them. very frustrating! I have a kindle fire hd , if that makes a difference.
carol g - mt carmel
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