Free Library Ebook Guide

By Jamie W. Wed, December 19, 2012

E-readers and tablets are among this year's hottest holiday gifts and of course, borrowing Free Library ebooks and audiobooks for your new e-reader or tablet is the hottest activity for those in the know.  In this guide, I'll offer tips on the following topics to get you started:

For more help with downloadable media, visit Overdrive Help or browse past posts on our blog

Get started with ebooks today!
Get started with ebooks today!


Hi. How do the tokens work for ebooks? I'm trying to download a book on my iPhone and keep getting limit reached as a message. However, I have not used this service in the past today would have been my first time. Thanks, -Mey
MC - Philadelphia Wed, January 16, 2013
Hi Mey - It sounds like you are trying to use our Freading service. That's the one with tokens. Essentially, all Free Library card holders receive 2 tokens to use on Freading ebooks each week. A full explanation of how it works is found here: Our other ebooks service, Overdrive, does not use the token system. Get started with Overdrive here: If I've misunderstood your question or if you're still having trouble, submit a help request at our Ask a Librarian page ( and I will work with you more that way. Thanks!
Jamie W - Philadelphia Wed, January 16, 2013
Can the ebooks be used on the NOOK HD or other eReaders or iPads/iPhone? Thank you, Giovanna
Giovanna G - Philadelphia Mon, January 28, 2013
Hi Giovanna - Our ebooks can be used on both Nook tablets (as well as all other Android devices) and Apple iPads and iPhones. See the links in the post above for decive-specific instructions.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, January 28, 2013
If the Free Library doesn't have an eBook version of a title, is it possible to request that one be purchased? If so, what is the likelihood that the request will be granted?
Christina - New Jersey Sat, February 02, 2013
Hi Christina - You can indeed recommend ebooks to us for purchase. When searching for a book or author in our Overdrive collection, try clicking on the 'Additional Titles' tab. This will show you ebook and audiobook titles that we do not have but are available to us. You can recommend them to us from there. Here is a blog post that goes into a bit more detail: Another issue though is the fact that several large publishers will not sell their digital titles to libraries. We have been advocating for a change to this practice for some time now. However, there are many popular ebook titles we cannot buy simply because the companies that publish them refuse to sell them to us. Here is some more information about that issue:
Jamie W - Philadelphia Sun, February 03, 2013
I have an ebook checked out to my kindle that is due to expire in a couple of days. I am not finished reading it, and would like to renew the loan. How can I do that? Thanks.
Jerry - South Philly Wed, March 20, 2013
Hello Jerry - ebooks are not renewable in the traditional sense. You can check your ebook out again as soon as it expires though. However, the catch is that our ebook collection is so popular that there will likely be someone else on the waiting list for the book and they will get it when your loan expires. So unless no one is waiting on your ebook, you may not be able to check it out again right away. This is not very different from a print library loan though. You cannot renew a print book that someone else has on hold either. Thanks!
Jamie W - Philadelphia Thu, March 21, 2013
can Ebooks be sent to home computers?
al a - Medford Fri, March 29, 2013
Hello al a, Sure. You can download our ebooks to your home computer. You will need to add the free Adobe Digital Editions software first though. You can find that here: Then, browse our collection and checkout your ebooks in EPUB format. Also, most ebooks in our Overdrive collection can also be read in your browser. There is no need to download the title at all. For that option, just select, 'Read In Browser' after you checkout your ebook in Overdrive. Thanks!
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, April 01, 2013
Hi looks good to a novice here. just got new Laptop an it can upload (as grandson would say to my computer)so I can read on my kindle.Look forward to learning this, an using the new technology.
Grace - Philadelphia Mon, April 29, 2013
I've recently started using Overdrive to get library ebooks for my Kindle and computer. I can return Kindle books "early" via Amazon's Manage My Kindle page, but I can't figure out a way to do this with EPUB books. Is there any way to "return" or "delete" an EPUB book when I'm done with it, before the expiration date? Thank you!
JJ - Philadelphia Sun, May 12, 2013
Hi JJ - Good question. EPUB books need to be returned from whatever software it is you're using to read them. For example, if you're using a Kindle Fire you might have installed the Overdrive Media Console App from the Kindle App Store. In that case, you would return EPUB ebooks in the app. If you are using a PC and downloading ebooks using a Adobe Digital Editions to mangage your ebooks, you can return them from within Digital Editions. I hope this info helps. If not, click the Contact Us at the top of this page and send us an email for more individualized help. Good luck!
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, May 13, 2013
IF I were to get an out of state card. Will I be able to use overdrive for ebooks?
Manuel Mejia - Kissimmee, FL Sun, May 26, 2013
Hello Manuel - Sure. All Free Library cards have the same access to our resources. Thanks.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Tue, May 28, 2013
I am using a Chromebook now and am a novice at using the Cloud primarily, rather than a full hard drive for my files. I believe I need to be mindful of the size of the files I download on my download drive (something like 9 KG). How large is a typical adult ebook file--say, 400 pages? Also, what are the advantages/disadvantages of downloading versus just browsing? Is it only useful if moving between devises? Can I put a book on a Flash drive for browsing without downloading? Excited about the possibilities, but a bit confused. Thanks.
Brenda - Philadelphia Thu, August 01, 2013
Hello Brenda - thanks for writing and I'm glad to hear you're interested in our ebook services. An average file size for an ebook is about 1 MB. However, since you indicated that you will be reading on your Chromebook, the best option for you might be to simply use Overdrive's in-browser Reader. Learn more about it and how to use it here: This will avoid any issues with file sizes and storage. As to your other question, while you can technically save an ebook file to a flash drive there would be a host of issues surrounding the Digital Rights Management (DRM) on the file and your Adobe permissions if you moved it from one device to another. It would likely be easier to avoid that option. Try checking out and reading an ebook with in-browser reader and if you run into trouble contact us directly at: Thanks!
Jamie W - Philadelphia Thu, August 01, 2013
I have a Nook Simple, how can I return a book?
laura - phila Fri, December 13, 2013
Hello Laura -- You can return an ebook early from your Adobe Digital Editions software. Then next time you plug your Nook into your computer and synch to your Digital Editions, it will be removed from your eReader. Here are instructions -- -- if you need more help, contact us directly here --
Jamie W - Philadelphia Fri, December 13, 2013
Is there a way to text/take notes and save for review after I have returned the book.
David W - Philadelphia Sun, February 23, 2014
David W: I don't work for the Free library, but I believe it depends on your device. For Kindle e-readers, you need to have the book on the device to access the notes menu. I know that Amazon keeps them in the cloud so that you will always have them if you get the book again, but it doesn't look like you can review them unless the book is on the device. More generally, I love that the library has embraced e-books. It allows them to maintain their mission while adapting to a more electronic younger generation. While the selection is huge, there are some more lesser-known books I'd like to see, but I realize that's probably in the hands of the publishers.
Peter B - South Philly Wed, March 12, 2014
Do I need to wait until I receive my library card to use the ebook service? Is there any way to find out my card number now so I can access ebooks through the Overdrive app?
Jessica - Pottsville Mon, March 24, 2014
VANESSA Thu, May 01, 2014
I read e-books from FLP using Overdrive. I recently read that the 14 day borrowing period that began some months ago had been changed back to 21 days, but when I check out books, they're still being charged out at 14 days. What is the current policy? Two weeks can be challenging for some books/readers!
Debbie - Elkins Park Tue, May 13, 2014
Hello Debbie - Yes. You are correct, the loan period was briefly changed to 14 days but has since been changed back to 21 days. If your ebooks are still only being checked out for 14 days, login to your account at our Overdrive site, click the 'account' icon at the top right of the screen, and then click the 'settings' icon on the right. From there you can change your default loan settings. If you have trouble, please send us an email so we can help you one-on-one:
Jamie W - Philadelphia Wed, May 14, 2014
How do I get started downloading e books.
sharon - Philadelphia Mon, June 23, 2014
Hello Sharon - Great question! Take a look at this intoduction to our ebook services and the accompanying video tutorials and you'll soon be on your way:
Jamie W - Philadelphia Tue, June 24, 2014
I was downloading a library book on my amazon account and lost internet connection. when I refreshed, the book was not on my amazon account but my library acct says I borrowed it. I was on a waiting list for this book and don't want to wait the 14 days for it to return itself and be put on a waiting list again. Is there a way to force a return so I can download it without having to wait again?
Lisa Quinn - Phila Mon, July 21, 2014
Hello Lisa - sorry to hear that you're having trouble. This issue is likely too involved for us to fix over the blog. Please send us an email at the 'contact us' link at the top right of this page. Provide your library card number, the name of the ebook you're having trouble with and any other relevant info. Thank you.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Tue, July 22, 2014
Is One click available?
genie Selvey - Minnesota Sun, October 05, 2014
Hello Genie - I am not entirely sure I understand your question, but if you're looking for the OneClick Digital audiobook service, yes, we do offer that. You'll find a link on our Digital Media page - - If this is not what you're looking for, please send us an email using the 'contact us' link at the top of the page. Thank you.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, October 06, 2014
does the ereading service support windows phone? thanks
bill - somerton Mon, November 24, 2014
Hi Bill - You can use your Windows Phone with our ebook collection. Here's information from Overdrive (our primary ebook provider) about how to get started:
Jamie W - Philadelphia, PA Mon, December 01, 2014
I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Can I get ebooks or audible books from the free library on my Kindle Fire?
Mary - Philadelphia Wed, December 31, 2014
Hi Mary - yes you can use library ebooks for your Kindle. If you have a Kindle Fire or HD, you can also use our audiobooks. However, the e-ink Kindles (like the Paperwhite) are not compatible with library ebooks. You'll find a link to our Overdrive collection here: You will also find set up and help information for your Kindle here: Thanks!
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, January 05, 2015
How do ebooks from overdrive work? After the 14 days of what happens if I don't return the ebook? Is there a penalty involved or does it just simply disappear from my tablet?
AJ - Philadelphia Wed, January 14, 2015
Hi AJ - that's exactly right. At the end of your loan period (you can chose a 7, 14, or 21 day load in the settings tab at your Overdrive account) your file will expire. There are no late fees. The file on your device will become inoperative and the ebook will be free for someone else to check out. Thank you.
Jamie W - Philadelphia, PA Thu, January 15, 2015
Why are a lot of the new ebooks only being purchased in the epub format? I have a kindle and nook so just wondering if this is all you will purchasing in the future?
Bonnie - Philadelphia Mon, February 16, 2015
Hello Bonnie - Thank you for your question. We do not purchase ebooks by format. When the library licenses a title, we get it in every format the publisher offers to libraries (Kindle, EPUB, Overdrive READ, Open EPUB, etc.). If certain titles are not available for Kindle it is because their publishers have chosen not to make Kindle versions available to libraries at this time. I hope this explanation is helpful to you. Thank you.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Tue, February 17, 2015
Can you add Maximum PC magazine to the online Zinio collection?
Tim - Philadelphia Tue, April 07, 2015
Very basic question. If I get a Kindle and am interested in reading a book, is there any charge for downloading and reading the book from the Free Library?
Rod - philadelpia Fri, June 12, 2015
Hello Rod - Ebooks checked out from our collections are always free of charge. For Kindle books, checkout our collection at Overdrive ( For Android, Apple, Mac, and PC users, we offer Overdrive, as well as Freading (ebooks), OneClick Digital (audiobooks), Tumblebooks (kid's ebooks), Hoopla (audiobooks, ebooks, comics, as well as movies, TV, and music) and eBooks On EBSCOhost. You'll find links to all of these resources on our Digital Media page:
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, June 15, 2015
I find that Overdrive doen't work on my first generation IPad. Is there a part of the ebook collection that I can access?
Joanne - Radnor Wed, September 09, 2015
Hello Joanne - Unfortunately, a first generation iPad has the Apple 5.1 iOS and does not support the Overdrive app (iOS 6.1 required) or the Overdrive READ format for in-browser reading (iOS 7.1 required). Sorry to disappoint. You can still read Overdrive ebooks on a desktop or laptop PC or Mac though, if that's an option for you.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Thu, September 10, 2015
Can you add Maximum PC and PC Gamer magazines to the online Zinio collection?
AJ - Philadelphia Mon, October 12, 2015
Can I donate my Kindle ebooks to your library? I own a lot of novels in the ebook format. I am not a person who reads a book over again so they are just sitting.
Ross - New Castle, PA Sun, November 01, 2015
Thank you for your comment and your offer. Unfortunately though, ebooks cannot be donated. Ebooks are protected with Digital Rights Management software (DRM) by their publishers. This software, which is intended to prevent piracy and protect copyright, does not allow transfers, donations, or gifts of ebooks in the traditional sense. An unfortunate truth of the digital age is that when you purchase an ebook, you are not so much purchasing the book itself, but rather licensing access to it. This access is limited to the person who bought the book and is often limited to the device the person bought it for (for example, a person who owns both a Kindle and a Nook cannot usually transfer books between them). However, if you are interested in supporting the library or our digital collections you can visit our donations page:
Jamie W - Philadelphia Sun, November 01, 2015
I lost my library card, so I got a new one on Friday. However, when I went to sign in on OverDrive, my account is showing that I have no ebooks out or on hold - which I did prior to switching to a new library card. How do I fix this?
Lauren - Lansdale Mon, November 16, 2015
Hi Lauren - we can fix this for you. However we need your library card and account information to do so. Please get in touch through the Contact Us email link at the top right of this page. That way we can work with you one-on-one. Thank you.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, November 16, 2015
The newest editions of Maximum PC are not yet available online on Zinio. You are 3 issues behind. When will the new issues be available?
RJ - Philly Sat, December 12, 2015
Thanks for letting us know about Maximum PC. We are working with Zinio to get this corrected.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, December 14, 2015
How many ebooks are you allowed to check out?
John - California Thu, January 14, 2016
Hello John - each Free Library cardholder may checkout up to 6 ebooks/digital audiobooks from Overdrive at one time. Thank you.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Fri, January 15, 2016
I would like to know if there is a senior citizen discount for out of state residents? I'm 70 and on a fixed income.
Bernette Beals - Neosho Tue, January 19, 2016
Can't log in to EBSCO Host database. Assisted at my branch to create a user ID and password, but EBSCO will not accept them.
Adrian Levytsky - Philadelphia Mon, March 28, 2016
Hello Adrian - sorry to hear you're having trouble with EBSCO. It is difficult to troubleshoot on the blog though. Please send us an email using the Contact Us link on this page and we can work to get this sorted out. Thank you.
Jamie W - Philadelphia Mon, March 28, 2016
What does the "automatic download" mean in my Overdrive account? Do I have to click on the e-book, or will it auto appear on my Kindle? Will I be notified that the e-book is now available?
Pat / - Northeast Phila Fri, April 01, 2016
How do I Sealy return an eBook from my kindle fire? Thanks!
Auryn - Philadelphia Thu, May 12, 2016
Steven Sanford - Alabama Mon, November 14, 2016

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