Kindle in hand, I scrolled for a book I had purchased recently, to share with my son’s girlfriend.
“I bought it on Amazon, so if it is not here, I can find it in my Amazon account,” I said.
“Did they not have it at the library?” she asked.
“I’m sure they did, but I wanted it on the Kindle for traveling.”
She hesitated, reluctant to speak.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s just that you can borrow the digital books from the public library, for free, through the Libby app.”
I stared at her. My reader universe suddenly tilted on its axis.
“Yeah. I mean you have to wait sometimes like a regular library loan hold, but you don’t have to go to the library or anything, you can just request it through the app, download it to your Kindle when it comes in and return it when you finish. I can’t believe you didn’t know. You read more than anyone I know!”
This technical tidbit stopped me in my tracks. Free digital book loans? A voracious reader, I was never without a book, and regularly dished out 12 or 14 or 15 dollars apiece to purchase books for my Kindle. I happily tucked the device in my bag for trips or waiting rooms or car service appointments.
I remained skeptical, and continued my cross-examination.
“And it’s free?”
“Yes!” Sydnie said, “I find all the bargains, even books,” referring to her bargain hunting prowess.
I hopped up and down. For years, cognizant of our budget, I had carefully regulated what I purchased for my Kindle, placed holds on new ones at the library, waiting weeks for copies to be available, and scoured second hand book stores for others. At a rate of several books a week, I could rack up huge bills if I was not careful. Suddenly, my book money was liberated.
“Show me. I want to put it on my phone right now!”
Within minutes I set up my Libby account and requested several books from my local library. I knew I would still invest in treasured reads.
Until then, I would embark on countless adventures, traveling back in history, around the world and into fantastical universes, on my Kindle. For free.
Carol O’Day lives in Los Angeles.