The High Tech Society

RB Digital – Free Magazines and eBooks From Your Library  


RB Digital – Free Magazines and eBooks From Your Library

If you own a Kindle, nook, or other tablet device and happen to have a library card, chances are you qualify to check out free digital books and magazines through apps like RB Digital, CloudLibrary, and OverDrive. While availability strongly depends on your location and your local library, thousands of libraries across the United States opt in to RB Digital to bring free digital magazines to you. Best of all, you can check out and keep magazines for as long as you want, with no late fees, unlike with physical copies from your library.  

What Do You Need to Download Free Magazines?

RB Digital works with a very simple process.  

You need to:  

  1. Download the app onto a compatible device.
  2. Sign up with your library card at > Create New Account  
  3. Input your library card number to sign up  
  4. Set a username and password  
  5. Verify your account  
  6. Log in via the app on your device  
  7. Search for a title, click “Download  

That’s it. Providing you already have a local library card, you can easily access any of the media files including audiobooks and magazines as licensed by your library and then read or view them through the app.  

If you’re reading magazines, you’re also recommended to have a larger size tablet, like the Fire HD 10″, simply because visual quality and reading quality are limited on a 7″ tablet.   

The App

The RBDigital app is free to download and installs on most types of tablets. However, it does have some constraints, including an old user interface, some compatibility issues with old models, and slwo updates.  

Interface – RBDigital is largely intuitive and relatively easy to use, however, it’s not perfect. While you can easily search and add files to your download list, you have to read them in the app (no using the native reader on your Kindle or Nook), and you will have to manage them individually. That means if you download a great deal of magazines over time and forget, you’ll have to delete them all one by one, which is more than a bit of a hassle.  

– This depends on location, but is generally excellent. Most libraries license all major magazines and digital magazine subscriptions are generally very cheap. This reflects in a large selection of online and digital titles.  

Offline Use – While you do “download” files onto your computer, the app doesn’t like you trying to access files offline. This is unfortunate if you like to read while not connected to WiFi, but is intended to protect the DMCA rights for the files. If you want a true download, check to see if your library also uses OverDrive.  

While RBDigital is primarily dedicated to magazines, you can find other files on it. However, it is a best option if you want audiobooks or magazines rather than traditional eBooks. For this reason, many libraries use RBDigital alongside other eBook lending platforms like OverDrive or CloudLibrary. Check to see if they have either if you want more than RBDigital is offering.  

Overall, RBDigital is a great but flawed app. It has a lot to offer and will give you hours of enjoyment and free magazines and audiobooks, so while there is room to improve, you should download the app if you have a library card and want digital magazines.