Free Digital Library Apps for Kindle and Other Tablets
Downloading and reading library books on a Kindle or Amazon tablet gives you the convenience and freedom of eBooks with the (almost) free ability to read anything from your local library. If you have a library card, you can easily access and read millions of eBooks online, free of charge, through apps like Overdrive and RBDigital. In this article, we’ll briefly go over each of your options so you have a better understanding of what you can choose. And, if you click on each option, you can read our full review of the app, book availability, and extras like eBooks, movies, and magazines.
Kindle mostly does not require you to download an app to access library books. However, you do usually have the option and you will be accessing books through different technologies.
Top Kindle Library Apps
Overdrive – Overdrive allows you to download eBooks to a computer or a mobile device such as a Kindle or Fire tablet. Overdrive, formerly Rakuten Overdrive, was originally formed by the Maryland Digital ELibrary Consortium, but today includes a network of over 30,000 libraries, each contributing to the system. All you need to do is have a library card and an account and you can access millions of books, a vibrant community, and reading challenges. However, just like with physical books, Kindle library books are available in limited quantity. You can check your book out or place a hold on it if it’s not available. You do not need the app, as you can access and download books via the Silk browser on your Kindle or Fire tablet.
This is our most recommended app and the one that is most commonly used by libraries. Read our full review here
Cloud Library by Bibliotheca – Cloud Library is less popular than Overdrive and you do need an app to access and download books. Once you download the app, you have to create an account, input your library card, and begin searching local books. Cloud Library primarily connects individual digital library portals to offer a small collection of local books. Read our review
RBDigital – RBDigital offers access to audiobooks, eBooks, comics, magazines, and some video through your local library. To access on your Kindle or Fire tablet, you should download the app, sign up, and input your library card. You will only have access to digital files available at your local library and items not available in your region cannot be downloaded. However, RBDigital has one of the largest range of media items, and is one of the only places you can check out magazines and comics as easily as books. Learn more here
Hoopla Digital – Hoopla Digital allows you to borrow movies, eBooks, audiobooks, comics, music, and television through your local library. Signing up, you have to provide your library card, after which you can access items in your local library. Most titles are available for up to 21 days after you borrow, after which you can check them out again if desired. Read the review
Library Solutions – Many libraries offer their own digital shelves with a small number of eBooks available. However, these are often poorly organized and difficult to search through, so you are likely better off using an app rather than searching your local digital portal.
Which app should you choose? RBDigital and Overdrive are two of the best and most organized you can find, so we highly recommend that you start with those. However, there’s nothing stopping you from trying them all, especially as some offer local titles only and others work to make content available freely to any library member. And, with more apps, you have a better chance of finding an available copy of the book you want.
Our best recommendation? If you want just eBooks, Overdrive is the way to go. If you want mixed media, RBDigital and Hoopla are better.