Fun for Free – January

To quote a song that I quietly hum to myself while hunting down the perfect read, “having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!” Today, I want to talk about both ideas from the quote – libraries and fun (… for free).

While I’m lucky enough that my local library has a curb-side pick-up option for physical books and other media, I don’t exactly want to venture out into the cold just so I can read. Assuming that you may also be in your coldest season, too, I wanted to talk about the two library apps that I’ve been using to keep up with my hunger for fiction, audiobooks, and graphic novels. Don’t have a library card? I’ve got you in mind as well, and I’ll talk about a non-library option later on.

Hoopla

Hoopla has a bit of everything, whether you’re looking for comics, e-books, audiobooks, movies, TV shows, music, or quick guides to popular reads. If Hoopla has it, you can borrow it. The borrow period is fairly standard (21 days, unless otherwise stated), and there’s no limit as to how many people can borrow the same piece of media at the same time. There’s a limit to how much you can borrow per month, which may vary from one library to another. Where Hoopla shines is in their audiobook selection and their quick guides. The audiobooks are sometimes the only format available for a given title (or maybe that’s just my library), but I personally like having the variety of going back and forth between what format my books are in, so it’s not too much of a trade-off. The quick guides fill in the gaps for major titles that they don’t have available to borrow as an e-book, but likely have as an audiobook. While the app doesn’t have a sample-read function, this fills that gap (but it will take up one of your allotted borrows for the month).

Pros: Audiobooks aplenty; no wait time – if you see it listed, you can borrow it
Con: Selection might feel a bit limited depending on the format of media you prefer to consume

Libby

Libby functions more like a traditional library, in that you’ll have a wider variety to choose from (they also have magazines!) but you also have wait-times for popular media based on the number of copies available for a given title. Borrowing periods vary according to how new/in demand a title is, though they might have more than 2-3 copies of a title if it’s particularly famous. If a title is in the public domain, they will have unlimited copies, so feel free to go wild on some Wilde. The app itself feels a bit fancier (for lack of a better word) and offers a different reading experience as a result. They also have curated collections that pop up on your homepage – some of which are seasonal, while others are a reflection of what’s on everyone’s reading lists. Though I led with pointing out that you’d have to put a hold on titles that aren’t currently available, the app does have a section dedicated to titles that are ready to check out immediately. Lastly, this app will allow you to sample the title (I’ve only tried this with books and audiobooks), so you at least have an idea if it’s worth your time to wait weeks (…or months) to place the hold.

Pros: Wide selection, curated lists, magazines with no wait time
Con: Depending on title popularity, you might have to wait a few months before you can access the title (but at least the tell you the estimated wait time)

To be clear, I use both library apps, and I use them to their respective advantages. My library has other apps and services that are available with the card, though I haven’t taken the time to explore them enough to comment on their content or qualities. For now, I have plenty to select from between the two apps and my stack of books at home.

The Gutenberg Project

Not forgetting those of you who may not have a library card (no judgement, I only got mine last September), I want to talk about the Gutenberg Project. If a title has entered the public domain, the Gutenberg Project website will have a copy of it – meaning that a bunch of classics will be available to read online or download immediately. Their selection is, understandably, older titles, but if you’ve ever wanted to read the “classics” that you Coles Notes’d your way through in high school, or just want to visit other titles from authors you’ve sampled from the same category, then this will meet your needs. I’ve read a handful of titles online through the website when seeking out specific novels, though I’m sure that perusing their expansive selection would offer more than enough. The novels and other works have been digitized, meaning that you’ll be able to read them online as text, rather than relying on scanned copies (as far as I’ve seen). Lastly, I want to point out that the works they have available are not only in English, thought the amount of e-books (and other media) will vary from one language to the next.

Pros: Immediate access to over 60 000 titles, and you can keep the download (depending on copyright laws in your country)
Con: If it’s not public domain, it won’t be on the website. 

What’s next for this week:

I’ll be working on using what I have from my yarn to crochet a quick something for myself, and then having a look at what products I want to focus on for empties for the next bit. Thanks for reading!