Libraries are wonderful places. Not only do they allow us to borrow books for free but they also provide a social space to meet friends and drink the occasional cup of coffee. Sadly, the current pandemic has caused many to avoid such places for fear of infection.

This doesn't mean you have to forgo your reading habits though, as it is possible to borrow books on your Kindle. We explain how you can loan books on your Amazon eReader device.

How do I borrow library books on my Kindle?

For readers in the US, you can borrow books easily from libraries using apps such as Overdrive and Libby. Once installed, you simply enter your library card details and you'll be presented with a list of all the books available to loan. Then all you need to do is select Read with... or Borrow for the Kindle book to be sent to your device.

As with traditional library books, you only have a limited time to read the item before it needs to be returned. But, you can renew any title through the apps if you haven't quite got to the final (or even second) chapter when the time runs out.

Sadly, this service is not available in the UK as Overdrive is for North American libraries and the Libby app only works on phones, tablets and web browsers. But, my Kindle has a web browser, you may say. True, but have you tried using it? It’s awful and we wouldn’t wish that reading experience on anyone. 

Of course, you can use the Libby app on your other devices, but if the Kindle is the place where you want to read then there are some options you can try. 

How to borrow books from the Kindle store

Until recently you were able to borrow one book a month through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library feature. This has now been retired, as Amazon prefers you to use the Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited services it offers. 

Prime Reading is included as part of an Amazon Prime membership, giving you instant free access to around a thousand books, magazines and graphic novels. To borrow one, visit the Kindle store and look for books that have the Prime symbol next to the Kindle version price. On the book’s homepage you'll see at the buy option Should say Read for £0.00. Click this and the book will be added to your Kindle library.

How to borrow library books on Kindle

Should you want more choice, then the Kindle Unlimited subscription gives you access to over 1 million titles, as well as thousands of audiobooks and a large selection of magazines, all for £7.99/$9.99 per month.

How to read free books on Kindle

If you don't fancy an Amazon Prime subscription and your local library doesn't offer the ability to borrow books on your Kindle, all is not lost. There are free ebooks available for Kindle on Amazon's website, so just browse the list to see if there's anything you fancy. (The list includes titles only free on Kindle Unlimited too, so you'll have to ignore those.)

There are also various websites that offer free versions of classics or new works from upcoming authors.  These include Project Gutenberg, Open Culture, Bookbub, Open Library and others.

In most cases, all you need to do is download a title from the site and install it on your Kindle. If this is something you don't know how to do, then read how to put eBooks on an Amazon Kindle which explains the process.

So there a few different ways to get free books onto your Kindle. Of course, Amazon isn't the only company to offer digital reading devices, so be sure to take a look at our roundup of the best eReaders to see what the competition has to offer.