Library Books & eReaders

Now firmly placed as a mainstream item, ebooks have grown in popularity enough for many libraries to have started making digital versions from their catalogue available for lending.

The only thing you’ll need, except your eReader and an appropriate library card, is an Adobe ID (see below).

Most libraries that do provide ebooks are using the Adobe DRM protection system, which also means that most dedicated eReaders (Sony, Kobo, etc) and several eReader apps (Bluefire, OverDrive) can be used to read these DRM protected library ebooks.

I’m going to write three very short tutorials on how to get your library ebook onto your eReader/App. One of these three options should give you enough information even if yours is not actually covered here.

Adobe ID / Activation

As libraries are using the Adobe DRM protection you will first need to create an Adobe ID before you’ll be able to read those borrowed books. If you don’t already have one, then please visit the Adobe website and complete this form.

Adobe Digital Editions (ebook reader)

Unless you are using the OverDrive iPhone/Android app (see below) you must install Adobe’s Digital Editions Reader so that your library books can be activated before they are transferred to your ebook reader.

Download Adobe Digital Editions here.

The first time you run DE, you will be asked to activate it with the Adobe ID and password you created previously.

With DE installed, you don’t even need a digital reader as you can read EPUB books on your computer directly from within Digital Editions. If you do have a digital reader, then read on.

Bluefire eReader App for the iPad and iPhone

Bluefire has become a very popular app as it was the first eReader to allow Adobe DRM EPUB files to be added no matter where you bought your books from, which also makes it perfect for users wanting to read library books on the iPad.

First, download the Bluefire Reader app from iTunes (available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch).

Before continuing please activate Bluefire with your Adobe ID; start the app and on the “Library” page click the “Info” icon, located at the bottom. Here you will see the button for activating your Bluefire reader.

Next, visit your library’s website, checkout an eBook, and click the download link – when asked to save or open, select “Open with Digital Editions”.

Using iTunes we will now transfer the book to the Bluefire app;

  • Connect your iPad to a computer and start iTunes.
  • Select your device (iPad/iPhone) and click on the “Apps” tab.
  • Scroll down to the “File Sharing” section and click the “Bluefire Reader” icon in the Apps section.
  • Click the “Add…” button.

At this point you’ll need to browse to where Adobe Digital Editions has stored your eBook. By default they will be saved to one of these locations;

On Windows: your-home-directory/Documents/My Digital Editions
On OSX: your-home-directory/Documents/Digital Editions

The EPUB book will then transfer to Bluefire where you can then start reading.

Library Books on a Dedicated eReader (Sony, Kobo, etc.)

Dedicated ebook readers often have their own software for adding books, but we will stick with using Adobe Digital Editions to get your library ebooks on to your eReader.

I’ll be using the Sony Touch Edition for this example, but it should be the same for all devices that support EPUB with Adobe DRM protection. This procedure will be very similar to the way you do it when you purchase ebooks from a store, so please refer to your documentation for more detailed help. Otherwise here is the brief outline.

  • Connect the eReader to your computer and start Digital Editions.
  • Unless you have already done so, you will be shown the “Device Setup Assistant” – you will need to authorise your reader.
  • Visit your library’s website, checkout an ebook and download to DE.
  • From within DE drag the book(s) to your reader – In my case I dragged them to PRS-600.

And that’s it.

Overdrive eReader App for iPhone and Android

OverDrive are a digital distribution company who provide ebooks to all libraries. They also have their own app which is available for both Apple and Android devices.

As I don’t have an Android device I’ll be doing this tutorial with my iPod Touch, but the procedures should be the same on Android systems.

Download the “OverDrive Media Console” app from iTunes (or Android Market Place).

Once downloaded;

  • Launch the app and click on the “Get Books +” button (top right).
  • On the next screen click the “Add a Website +” button.

You’ll then be taken to the OverDrive website where you can search for your library. In my case, I searched for “Manchester Public Library” – searching for “Manchester UK” or “Manchester Great Britain” generated no results, so if you don’t find your library on the first go, try a different search.

  • Select your library from the list.
  • Clicking the link under the “Library Systems” heading – you’ll be taken to that library’s website.
  • Sign in to your library account, find a book to checkout.
  • When you click the download button you will be taken back to the OverDrive app.

As this will be the first time you’ve used OverDrive, you will be asked to sign in with your Adobe ID. Once done, you can proceed with the download and start reading your new book.

The OverDrive app is perhaps not the best eReader out there, but the fact that it makes getting books from a library to your device very easy, it can be a better option for many people.

I hope this tutorial helps and if you come across any issues that need sharing, please leave a comment and I’ll update the article.

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63 thoughts on “Library Books & eReaders”

  1. Awesome! I could not get the book to open with the many other options out there! Thanks for making it simple! So excited to be able to read wherever I go!

  2. THANK YOU! The book I wanted to read on my iPhone could not be downloaded via Overdrive. You’ve solved my issue by showing me how to transfer from ADE to Bluefire via iTunes. None of the library, Overdrive or Adobe websites were able to help but you provided the exact answers I was searching for. THANK YOU!

  3. why do libraries make you wait for an ebook adobe epub book. surely all books once online are infinitely shareable less the 30 minutes they give you to login and download to your adobe …

  4. The library is mandated to treat the ebook like a regular book meaning it can only lend out the copies it has purchased. Most times that is 1 copy although best sellers may have 2 or 3. If it is already lent out you must wait for it to become available.

  5. I downloaded a library book to Bluefire on a Samsung Galaxy 2 and started to read it. I was trying to set a bookmark and closed the book. I hit the return button by accident and returned the book. I still have access to the book on Adobe, but when I try to reload it to bluefire, it tells me that it has been returned. Anyone know of a way to get it back so that I can finish reading the book?

  6. I have an I pad which i use to download books in Overdrive from the library. No problems there. When I finish a book I can’t always easily get back to the screen where I would delete the book. Is this a common problem?

  7. Problem solved. If you scroll into the text of the story and pull up icons at the top and bottom of the page, the arrow at left top of page will take you to the delete screen. You can’t do this unless you are into the actual text it seems.

  8. It’s early in the morning and I still haven’t finished my coffee yet so forgive the silly question. I have an iPad, downloaded the Bluefire app and now want to download an ePub book from my library. From what I can see, I need to plug my iPad into my computer and sync to iTunes to first download the book? What if I don’t have a computer? That’s why I have an iPad!

    I spend a lot of time away from home so even if I had a computer, is what I am reading that I couldn’t just be beside the pool at a hotel with wifi and grab a digital book from my library?

    Is there any way to get a book DIRECTLY to my iPad? I guess that’s the short question. Lol. Thank you in advance!

  9. You need the Overdrive app to download from your library without a computer. Most if not all libraries use Overdrive and it’s pretty simple to use.

  10. When I borrow ebooks I get this error message ‘Library Info Wrong’ what does this mean? how do I fix this?

  11. I am going to buy an ereader for my wife. Her primary use will be reading fiction books checked out from the library. I’ve read the comments and it seems to me that the simplest and most effective device for checking out and reading ebooks from the library is the Kindle. Simple is the key factor in making this decision as neither she nor I are very tech savy. Any assistance on this would be greatly appreciated.

  12. I have owned 3 ereaders. 1st was a Sony touch, 2nd was a simple Nook and 3rd was a simple Kindle. I have read books on my IPad with the Kindle App. This Christmas I got a Kindle Paperwhite for $119. And I will never need another. It is nearly perfect. If you decide on a Kindle, follow these simple instructions. Using your computer go to your library webpage for downloading books. I believe all libraries use Overdrive. Follow the instructions for searching, adding to your cart and download for Kindle. Once you choose the Kindle download you are automatically sent to Amazon. If the book is not from “Penguin” you will choose the drop down box for your Kindle and it will wirelessly send it to your Kindle. If you choose a “Penguin” book you will have to download from your computer via the USB cord. I don’t buy or borrow Penguin books. Let us know how it goes and if you need help.

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