These 10 iPad apps let borrow and read library books and audiobooks

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Best iOS apps that let borrow ebooks from public libraries
Use one of these apps to borrow and read digital publications from your local library: Libby, OverDrive, Kindle, Hoopla Digital, Flipster, SimplyE, and more! / Image: Oscar Ovalle, Unsplash

You can borrow ebooks or audiobooks for free from your local library and read instantly on your iPad or iPhone. All you need is a library card.

Are you planning to use your iPad to read even more ebooks or finally start your adventure with audiobooks?

You don’t have to limit yourself to buying them from your favorite digital platform (Kindle, Kobo, Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, or Nook are the most popular ones).

If you want to get ebooks at the lowest possible cost, you don’t need to hunt for ebook deals or reread classic novels from the public domain. There is also a third option – the best one.

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You can get bestsellers and hot new releases, both as an ebook or audiobook, to your iPad at no cost. All you have to do is try to find your library card – or get a new one from your local library.

You probably heard that a growing number of libraries around the world offer digital content, but had no time to realize what it would mean for you. And it means nothing but savings and pleasure.

Once you set up the library app on your iPad, borrowing a free ebook or audiobook happens in an instant.

Before we move on…

Find out whether your library offers ebooks

If you have a library card already, make sure to visit the library’s website and find out whether it offers digital content. If yes, you should be also able to learn which iOS app you can use to access the library’s digital catalog.

The most popular platform used by libraries to lend ebooks is OverDrive. More than 40,000 libraries and other institutions around the world are powered by that platform. However, most of them are located in the United States.

If you don’t have the library card, try to find the public library that offers the largest catalog of ebooks and audiobooks. It may turn out that you don’t even need to visit the branch to sign up for the card. You may apply online, via the library’s website.

In the list below, we present library apps for iPad. You can obviously use them on your iPhone, as well.

iPad apps to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from public libraries

1. Libby

Libby is the most advanced iPad and iPhone app for library ebooks and audiobooks

Libby is a next-generation book reading app for iPad and iPhone, and it’s the first app you should download if you decide to give library ebooks a try.

Libby iOS library app - logo

To start with, Libby is a combination of the book reader and audiobook player, because libraries offer not only ebooks.

The app is developed by OverDrive, a popular platform that cooperates with almost 40,000 libraries and educational institutions from over 40 countries. OverDrive’s catalog includes over 2 millions ebooks, audiobooks, and videos. However, what you find in your local library’s catalog depends on that library.

Libby’s most outstanding feature is the ability to sign up with multiple library cards. For instance, you can use one card from your school library and the other one from the library system in your neighborhood.

Libby’s next killer feature is a unified catalog where all your loans – from all connected libraries and in all supported formats – are displayed.

⇢ Find a library ⇢ Find a book

Benefits: Ability to borrow books from multiple public libraries; user-friendly easy to use interface; most advanced features
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Libby

2. OverDrive

OverDrive is a classic library app for ebooks and audiobooks

If you prefer the power of an OverDrive-powered library but in a classic interface, you can always pick up an OverDrive app.

OverDrive iOS app for library ebooks and audiobooks - logo

Loved by thousands of users, the app is continually being developed. It gives access to both library ebooks and audiobooks, and offers a dual interface tailored for each format.

You have to keep in mind that, opposite to Libby, OverDrive app lets you register with only one library card. Make sure to choose the library with the widest catalog of digital titles.

A good thing is that the titles you borrow are being returned automatically, so you won’t pay late fees.

⇢ Find a library ⇢ Find a book

Benefits: Library app with a familiar classic interface; automatic returns; supports both ebooks and audiobooks
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ OverDrive

3. Kindle

Best iPad and iPhone apps to borrow books from public libraries - Amazon Kindle

Just like the apps described above, Kindle for iPad & iPhone gives access to library ebooks through OverDrive platform.

Amazon Kindle app for iPad and iPhone - logo

According to Amazon, 11,000 public libraries offer ebooks for the Kindle, but I believe this information is outdated. The number of supported libraries should be the same as in other OverDrive-powered apps: well over 40,000.

Kindle iOS app won’t let you directly access your local library’s catalog and instantly borrow ebooks. You will have to visit the library website, choose a book, and have it sent to your Kindle app manually, by clicking on “Get for Kindle” button.

⇢ Find a library ⇢ Find a book

Benefits: A part of the largest and most advanced ebook ecosystem; unique features, such as Whispersync and X-Ray
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Amazon Kindle

4. Hoopla Digital

Hoopla Digital - one of the best library apps for iPad and iPhone

Hoopla is a digital content platform offering over 500,000 ebooks, audiobooks, movies, comics, and music in cooperation with public libraries across the United States and Canada.

Hoopla Digital app for iPad and iPhone - logo

Library patrons can borrow and download digital publications free of charge using Hoopla app for iOS, Android, or using a web browser.

To start using Hoopla, you may need to check out whether your local library is cooperating with the platform. If not, you may browse Hoopla participating libraries and get a card from the nearest one.

Now, having a card from a supported public library, go to Hoopla Digital website and register an account using your library card number.

⇢ Find a library ⇢ Find a book

Benefits: One app to manage and play digital content in six formats
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Hoopla Digital

5. Flipster

Flipster Digital Magazines app for iPad - borrow for free using your library card

Flipster is a service that lets you borrow digital versions of popular magazines offered by public libraries.

Flipster Digital Magazines app for iOS - logo

Among hundreds of titles, you will find Time, People, Popular Science, InStyle, Vogue, New Yorker, and Vanity Fair.

There is no need to search for a supported library on the web – you can do it right within the app the moment you download it to your iPad or iPhone.

After you find the library and sign in with your library card, you can browse, search and download your favorite magazines for offline reading.

⇢ Find a magazine

Benefits: A one-stop solution to borrow popular magazines via your public library
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Flipster

iPad cheat sheet 2019

Latest Apple iPad models

Together with links to tech specs and best case covers.

Apple iPad mini 5th-generation 7.9-inch tablet 2019 release with Apple Pencil support

Apple iPad mini 7.9 (2019)

The world’s favorite compact tablet now comes with Apple Pencil 1 support and A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine, three times the performance and nine times faster graphics. Prices start from $399.

Storage: 64, 256 GB Colors: Silver, Space Gray, Gold

Tech specs Best cases

Apple iPad 9.7-inch 2018 release tablet with Apple Pencil 1 support

Apple iPad 9.7 (2018)

2048 × 1536 px Retina display, Apple Pencil support, Touch ID, A10 Fusion chip with M10 coprocessor. Prices start from $299 for education institutions.

Storage: 32, 128 GB Colors: Silver, Space Gray, Gold

Tech specs Best cases

Apple iPad Air 10.5 3rd-generation 2019 release tablet with Apple Pencil 1 support

Apple iPad Air 10.5 (2019)

An ultra-thin design with the A12 Bionic chip and advanced Retina display with True Tone. Supports Apple Pencil 1 and the smart Keyboard. Prices start from $499.

Storage: 64, 256 GB Colors: Silver, Space Gray, Gold

Tech specs Best cases

Apple iPad Pro 11-inch tablet 2018 release with Apple Pencil 2 support

Apple iPad Pro 11 (2018)

11-inch edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display with ProMotion technology, Apple Pencil 2 support, Face ID, A12X Bionic chip and Neural Engine, high-speed high-speed USB-C connector. Prices start from $799.

Storage: 64, 256, 512 GB, 1 TB Colors: Silver, Space Gray

Tech specs Best cases

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch tablet 2018 release with Apple Pencil 2 support

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

12.9-inch Liquid Retina 2732 × 2048 px LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with ProMotion technology, Apple Pencil 2 support, Face ID, A12X Bionic chip and Neural Engine, high-speed USB-C connector. Prices start from $999.

Storage: 64, 256, 512 GB, 1 TB Colors: Silver, Space Gray

Tech specs Best cases

6. BorrowBox

BorrowBox library app for iOS lets borrow ebooks and audiobooks from public libraries across UK

From Bolinda Digital comes BorrowBox, a digital platform that enables you to connect with digital catalogs of public libraries across the United Kingdom.

BorrowBox library app for iPhone and iPad - logo

The app is available in iTunes stores across the world, but you will have to be a registered member the library located in the British Commonwealth.

Borrow Box doesn’t provide a list of supported libraries, so you will need to find one online – the easiest way is to use a search phrase “library borrowbox.” Once you get the card, install the app and register it with your library membership.

From now on, you can browse ebooks and audiobooks by genre, borrow favorite titles instantly or reserve for later, or view current loans.

⇢ Find a book

Benefits: Library ebook and audiobook platform for users in the UK and the British Commonwealth
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ BorrowBox

7. RBdigital

RBdigital app for iPad and iPhone lets borrow digital content in 10 formats

RBdigital is another iOS app that lets you borrow digital content from a supported public library, after you sign up with your membership card.

RBdigital library ebooks and audiobooks app for iOS - logo

The app is developed by Recorded Books, a company that specialized in producing audiobooks since 1978. However, with the RBdigital app you will have access not only to audiobooks but also nine other digital formats, including ebooks, comics, and language-learning materials.

Opposite to other library solutions, Recorded Books offers unlimited access model, which enables library patrons to binge read their favorite books without breaking the library’s budget.

Up to date, over 5,000 libraries across the world can lend digital content via RBdigital, including 90% of the biggest 400 libraries in the United States.

⇢ Find a library ⇢ Find a book

Benefits: Supports libraries around the world; unlimited access model; thousands of exclusive audiobooks and educational courses
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ RBdigital

8. BiblioBoard Library

BiblioBoard app for iOS

BiblioBoard is a library app but the way it works and what it offers makes it unique, and you have to give it a try.

BiblioBoard app for iPad and iPhone - logo

The app gives access to community-created content: thousands of self-published ebooks, comics, articles, videos and audio files that are created by local writers, musicians, or filmmakers.

All items are curated by subject and available across the world, not only from within your local community.

The app is easy to use, and you won’t experience complicated check out procedure. Most importantly, opposite to other apps in this overview, all items are available instantly – there are no holds and waitlists.

⇢ Find a library

Benefits: High-quality content by local creators from around the world; instant access – no waitlists
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ BiblioBoard

9. Sora

Sora iOS app is optimized to access content from school libraries

Sora is another app developed by OverDrive. Opposite to Libby, it is optimized to help students make the most use of digital content available in their school libraries.

Sora - iOS library app for schools - logo

Once you download the app, you can use an easy set up guide to find your school and sign in. Then, you can borrow titles with a few taps – not only ebooks or textbooks but also audiobooks.

A beautiful built-in book reader includes a few advanced features that are helpful in studying: fixed-layout support, read alongs (added audio narration to select titles), assignments, achievements, and reading stats.

⇢ Find a school ⇢ Find a book

Benefits: A library app for students; supports both ebooks and audiobooks; advanced book reader
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ Sora

10. SimplyE Library Reader

SimplyE iPad and iPhone app offers ebooks and audiobooks from multiple digital platforms

The app is a great example of how libraries can cooperate in the digital times to bring free ebooks to their patrons.

SimpleE library reader app for iPad and iPhone - logo

SimplyE app for iPad and iPhone is a part of an open reading platform Library Simplified developed by a consortium of libraries and educational institutions, with The New York Public Library serving as lead partner.

Once you download the app, find your library, and log in with your library card ID, you can get access to over 300,000 library ebooks and audiobooks.

The biggest benefit of the platform is that it is integrated with multiple digital content distribution systems, also the ones included earlier in this overview: OverDrive, RBdigital, and BiblioBoard.

You can read free ebooks with SimplyE even if you don’t have the card of the participating library. The app includes thousands of public domain ebooks served by Project Gutenberg.

⇢ Find a library

Benefits: Support for multiple digital distribution platforms; a large catalog of free ebooks from the public domain
Price: Free
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone

⇢ SimplyE

• • •

Recommendation box

Top iPad cases and accessories to get in 2019

Based on recommendations from top tech sites and best customer reviews.

Top iPad cases 2019 Zugu Muse for iPad Pro 11

Zugu Muse Case for iPad Pro 11 (2018)

Magnet-secured case with 8 stand angles. Wireless Apple Pencil charging support, 5ft drop protection, car industry materials. Also for iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad 9.7.

Average rating: 4.7/5

Amazon

Top Apple iPad accessories to buy in 2019 - Anker Screen Protector

Anker Tempered Glass Screen Protector for iPad 9.7

Premium tempered glass with 9H hardness rating. Retina clarity with 96% transparency, 0.3 mm thickness, and oleophobic coating. Also for iPad Pro models.

Average rating: 4.4/5

Amazon

Top Apple iPad accessories to buy in 2019 - Tomtoc Shoulder Bag for Apple iPad 9.7 and iPad Pro 11

Tomtoc Shoulder Bag for iPad 9.7 and iPad Pro 11

Shockproof, padded urban iPad sleeve that’s both slim and lightweight. Main compartment for iPad, external pocket with a pen holder. Comes with an extra shoulder strap.

Average rating: 4.8/5

Amazon

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