How to download Free eBooks, Audio Books, and Comics in Ohio (Legally)

I've explained this to quite a few of my friends at this point, so I figured that I would go ahead and write it up for others. As you probably know if you live in the state, Ohio has one of the best library systems in the US. You might also know about OhioLink, the service that allows you to borrow from most other libraries in the state and have it delivered to your home library. You might even know how to get eBooks from your local library. Unfortunately, there is no OhioLink for eBooks.

Fortunately, there are a few library systems in the state that will let you sign up for a card on their web site and will mail it to you or send you a number to use. All you need to do is be a resident of Ohio. Once you've set it up, you'll be able find a book, check it out, and have it auto-delivered to your kindle.

Signing up for Remote Libraries

Each of these libraries will let you use the card for digital resources without going in to a branch. Once you've signed up for the libraries, you can sign up for an OverDrive account account1. OverDrive is the company who provides the eBook service to most libraries. Having an account gives you a unified sign in for all the libraries.

From here, you'll need to associate your OverDrive Account with each of the libraries. To do so, go to each library's page and find their eBook, eMedia, or electronic resource catalog. You should be sent to [lib].overdrive.com, where [lib] is an identifier for your library. For example, Cuyahoga County is https://ccpl.overdrive.com/. Click Sign In and then Sign in with OverDrive. After you've entered your overdrive credentials, you'll be asked to enter the library card number (and possibly PIN or password) for that library. Once that's done, you should be able to use your OverDrive account at all of the libraries instead of remembering the card numbers.

Checking out eBooks and Audio Books

Now you can browse each library to see their selection of books (and you can get to the library's page for a book by searching for it on OverDrive), however, that can get a bit tedious.

Another option (and my preferred option) is to use this handy Chrome extension. Once you add your libraries in the settings, whenever you view a book on Amazon or Goodreads, it will show you the current availability of the book and give you a link to check it out.
Once you find a library that has it available, click to borrow it. You might need to log in to the Library using your OverDrive Account.
You'll then be able to see the book in your account's loans section. Select "Kindle" from the drop down menu and you'll be directed to Amazon where you can select which Kindle to download it to.

Books will return by themselves after 21 days. If, for some reason, you take longer than that to read them, you can check them out again with the same process.

Checking out Comic Books

For eBooks, I prefer to read things on my Kindle, but for comics, I prefer to have a higher resolution color screen. Fortunately, the service that these libraries partner with has apps for Android and iOS to allow you to check out and read on your tablet or phone.

All libraries give access to Hoopla Digital, which allows you to check out up to 100 items per month. While their catalog of comics has a delay in adding current releases, they have a fairly large catalog. You can check out items from their site or their app and read them in either place as well. They also have music and movies, however, you have to use their app to watch. It supports chromecast and airplay, but that's about it.

  1. Sign up for a Hoopla Digital Account
  2. Add your library card number to your account.
    • Settings -> Library Settings
  3. Download the app for android or iOS
  4. Log in with your account.
  5. Browse for a comic and borrow it.

Wrap Up

While there are some limitations to this system (sometimes every copy in every library is checked out), overall it is a fast and convenient way to get books on your kindle. If you read as much as I do, this can save you considerable amounts of money. And, of course, if you really can't wait to read the book, you always have the option of buying it.

Happy reading!


  1. Side Note: OverDrive is based out of the Cleveland area and that makes them even more awesome.

John Cleaver

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