I know Amazon has a program where, if you pay extra, you can borrow ebooks. Just about everyone in the USA pays taxes to support their local Library. Are there any programs that allow library books to be checked out, as ebooks?

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    "Just about everyone in the USA pays taxes to support their local Library" - for extremely small values of "just about everyone".
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 17:37
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    In my opinion this answers to this question will be very localized (e.g. to US citizens or Canadians). I think it would be better to handle such questions in different questions for different countries. For example I think that there are a lot of libraries supporting Kindles in the USA, but in Germany libraries tend to lend epubs only...
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 10:28
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    See related meta-discussion on country tags: meta.ebooks.stackexchange.com/questions/165/… Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 19:06
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    @JamesJenkins: There are two answers for Canada and one for the UK as well. Perhaps this could be split into 3 questions. One for US, one for Canada and one for UK?
    – Jason Down
    Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 19:20
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    Lets talk about it here meta.ebooks.stackexchange.com/questions/168/… Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 19:40

5 Answers 5


I can answer in regards to the Los Angeles City public libraries, and I suspect that many libraries in the United States use the same system. They have a dedicated page explaining the e-media options available to their members.

From this page it seems that there are quite a few companies/subcontracters that they use to handle the transfer of ebooks from the library to a subscriber's account/ereader - Axis360, Overdrive and Hoopla, for example.

There are more options listed on their e-media page, as well as links to other free, public resources like Project Gutenberg, Bartleby, and the Alex catalog of public texts that don't require LAPL membership.


If you own a Kindle e-reader AND if you pay the $79 annual fee for PRIME ("free" shipping) at amazon.com, you can make use of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. There are currently 476,987 titles in the Lending Library — each month you can check out one of these books. (This is how I read Catching Fire, book 2 of the Hunger Games trilogy, last year.)

On the first of the next month, you can choose another book (you must first return the previous book). It's a definite benefit to owning a Kindle, though the number of well-known books (and authors) is limited.


It depends on your locale, as others said. A small library in Armpit, NW may not have that ability. New York Public Library (one of the premier ones) most certainly does:


I live in the USA. Several places I've lived offer free access to ebooks from local libraries. A common way seems to be through using Adobe Digital Editions. This program does the following:

  1. You pair it with your ebook-reading device on your local computer.
  2. The program checks the book out from the library in your name.
  3. The program puts it on your ebook-reading device, and deletes it once your borrowing time is up.

The county library for Portland Oregon offers Hoopla for streaming media as well as 3M Digital Library and Overdrive for ebooks. But, then, we love our libraries!

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