eBooks: Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a list of commonly asked questions about eBooks. You can select a particular question or continue down the page to view all content.
- What are eBooks?
- What do I need in order to check out and download eBooks from the library?
- Does my library card have to be from KDL to check out eBooks? What if my card is from a different library?
- What types of eBooks does the library offer? Are they all old classics?
- How do I find out if the specific title I want is available as an eBook?
- Why isn't my favorite book available as an eBook? Can you order it?
- How many eBooks can I check out at a time?
- How long can I keep an eBook that I check out from the library?
- What happens when the eBook is "due"? How do I "return" it to the library?
- Can I return an eBook early if I'm finished with it?
- Can I renew an eBook if I'm not done with it yet?
- Why do I have to place a hold for an eBook? If these are electronic, why aren't there unlimited copies available?
- How many eBooks can I place on hold at a time?
- How will I know when my eBook hold is available for me?
- I don't want to wait — how do I find eBooks that are available now, with no holds?
- I don't see my eBook checkouts and holds when I log into my Lakeland account. Why aren't they listed?
- Is there a way to keep track of which eBooks I've already read?
- Can I download library eBooks to my Nook / iPad / other eReader device?
- I heard that library books don't work on the Amazon Kindle. Is this true?
- How do I download eBooks to my eReader?
- Can I download eBooks at my local branch using the library computers?
- What is the difference between EPUB eBooks and PDF eBooks?
- I want to buy an eReader device. Which one do you recommend?
- I'm getting a strange error message. What do I do?
Have additional questions?
Please fill out our Support Request Form or call us at 616-784-2007.
An eBook is an electronic copy of a book that can be read on the screen of your computer or a portable eReader device, tablet, or smartphone.
To check out eBooks from KDL, you need the following:
- A KDL library card in good standing (less than $10.00 in fines)
- A computer or mobile device with an Internet connection
- A free software program or mobile app may be required, depending on your device):
- Adobe Digital Editions software program
(for downloading and reading eBooks on a Windows or Mac computer;
also needed to transfer eBooks to some eReader devices, including the Barnes & Noble Nook)
- OverDrive Media Console mobile app
(for downloading and reading eBooks on a mobile device;
available for Android, iPhone / iPad, and Windows Phone)
- Amazon Kindle / Kindle App users do not need any additional software or apps, but must have an Amazon.com account.
3. Does my library card have to be from KDL to check out eBooks? What if my card is from a different library?
Yes, you must have a library card issued by the Kent District Library in order to check out eBooks from ebooks.kdl.org. KDL pays an additional subscription fee to our eBook provider (OverDrive) for this service, and is required to limit use to our own cardholders only.
However, most other libraries also subscribe to the OverDrive eBook service, so you probably have access to eBooks through your home library's site:
- Grand Rapids Public Library:
- Fremont, Hastings, Herrick (Holland), Loutit (Grand Haven), and Spring Lake Libraries:
- Other Lakeland Library Cooperative Libraries:
- Search for Your Library Nationwide:
KDL offers all types of eBooks for all ages and reading tastes. You can find many of the latest releases, your favorite genres such as mysteries, romance, science fiction, cookbooks, biographies, and more, as well as eBook collections just for kids and teens. Yes, there are "old classics" like those offered by many online eBook sites, but with your KDL library card, you have access to so much more, all for free!
The easiest way is to use the brown search bar right at the top of the ebooks.kdl.org site to search for a title, author, or keyword. You can also use the Advanced Search option to run a more specific search.
The online catalog of all library materials also includes eBooks. You can use the link in the "Format" box on the left side of the screen to limit your search results to just those available as eBooks.
Please note that there is a delay between when eBooks are purchased and when their records are added to the main online catalog. For the most accurate and up-to-date results, searching directly on the ebooks.kdl.org site is recommended.
Unfortunately, not all publishers make their eBooks available to libraries. If you would like to request a specific eBook title, please fill out the Recommend a Purchase form and we would be happy to see if we are able to purchase it for the library's collection.
You can check out a total of 20 items at a time from KDL's OverDrive digital collection. Please note that this total includes any combination of both eBooks and eAudiobooks.
The default checkout period for eBooks is 21 days, but you can also select a 7 day or 14 day checkout period. You can adjust your default checkout period for future checkouts by logging into My Digital Account and selecting the Settings link.
Once the checkout period for your eBook is over, the eBook file will automatically "expire" and you will no longer be able to access it on your computer or eReader device. There is no need to "return" it to the library (and no worrying about overdue fines!)
Please note that even though you can no longer open the eBook once it has expired, the eBook file itself may still be stored on your computer or eReader device. You may want to check the instructions for your particular device to find out how to delete files in order to open up storage space for other titles.
Yes, you can return an eBook early. Doing so will be appreciated by other patrons who may be waiting for that particular title, and it also may help you stay under the 20-item digital collection checkout limit. For specific instructions on how to return eBooks early, click here.
The option to renew an eBook becomes available 3 days before the title is set to expire, appearing next to the title in the Bookshelf section of your account on the ebooks.kdl.org site. If there are no existing holds on the title (indicated by a green Renew icon), you can borrow the eBook again immediately once your first checkout expires. If there are already holds on the title (indicated by a grayed-out Renew icon), the Renew feature will place you back on the hold list and you can borrow it again as soon as your turn comes.
You may only use the Renew feature once for each checkout. Once you have renewed a title, its Renew icon will have a checkmark next to it. You can track which titles you've renewed from the Holds section of your account on ebooks.kdl.org. Once your renewed title becomes available, you will receive an email notification and you must check it out and download it again.
12. Why do I have to place a hold for an eBook? If these are electronic, why aren't there unlimited copies available?
Most publishers require that library eBooks are offered to only one person per copy at a time, similar to how physical books are checked out. They feel that this restriction helps maintain their profitability, as unlimited eBooks available for free from the library would hurt sales of their eBooks through commercial sites.
Please note that our collection of public domain eBooks is always available, with unlimited copies and no holds. They also do not count against the 20-item digital collection checkout limit.
You may place up to 15 items on hold at a time from KDL's OverDrive digital collection. Please note that this total includes any combination of both eBooks and eAudiobooks, but it is completely separate from the 15-item hold limit for physical library items.
When an eBook title that you have placed on hold becomes available, you will receive an email at the email address you specified when placing the hold. You will then have 3 days (72 hours) from the time the email is sent to log in to the ebooks.kdl.org site and checkout and download your eBook. If you do not checkout your eBook within the 3-day timeframe, your hold will be cancelled and the title will be sent to the next person on the hold list.
To find eBooks that are immediately available, with no hold list, make sure to check the box labeled "Only titles with copies available" when searching the ebooks.kdl.org site.
You may also be interested in our collection of always available public domain eBooks, which have unlimited copies and no holds. They also do not count against the 20-item digital collection checkout limit.
16. I don't see my eBook checkouts and holds when I log into my Lakeland account. Why aren't they listed?
Account information, including checkouts and holds, for items from KDL's digital collection at ebooks.kdl.org is handled by OverDrive, the provider of our eBook service. At this time they have no way to integrate eBook account information into the Lakeland account system for checkouts and holds of physical library items.
Neither KDL nor OverDrive (our eBook service provider) keep a record of which digital items you have downloaded in the past. However, you may find it helpful to go back to each title's page on the ebooks.kdl.org site after you finish it and give it a rating (1 to 5 stars). You will then be able to select the "Rated Titles" link in the "Lists" section of your account to display a list of the titles you have rated (and therefore read) in the past.
Yes, you can download library eBooks to many popular eReader devices, including Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and more.
Please check OverDrive's Device Resource Center for a complete list of compatible devices.
For instructions on how to download library eBooks to various eReader devices, please see our Downloading Instructions page.
Library eBooks were previously unavailable for the Amazon Kindle due to the proprietary file format used by Amazon. However, OverDrive and Amazon have recently announced that Kindles and Kindle Apps are now compatible with library eBooks! Simply choose the Kindle Book format under the eBook you select.
Please see our Downloading Instructions page for step-by-step guides to downloading library eBooks to a variety of popular eReader devices.
Unfortunately, you cannot download eBooks using the public computers in our library branches due to software security restrictions. However, if you are able to bring your own laptop, tablet, or smartphone to the library, you are welcome to use our free high-speed wireless internet to download eBooks onto your own device.
Kindle Books are specifically formatted for use by the Amazon Kindle and Kindle apps. Please select this format if you wish to read the eBook on one of these devices. They are not compatible with any other eReader.
EPUB eBooks have reflowable text, which means that if you resize the text or change the font of the eBook, the text will "reflow" to fill the screen. This makes EPUB eBooks the optimal choice for reading eBooks on small screens.
PDF eBooks preserve the layout of complex documents, including any charts and illustrations. However, because of this they do not "reflow" their text as well as EPUB eBooks. Therefore, you may notice page breaks in odd places when reading these eBooks on an eReader device. Because they are not optimized for small screens, PDF eBooks cannot be downloaded using the OverDrive Media Console for mobile devices. (There is a workaround to download PDF eBooks to an iPad using a third-party app called Bluefire Reader.)
Check OverDrive's Device Resource Center to see what formats are compatible with your particular device. (Note that EPUB and PDF eBooks are not compatible with the Amazon Kindle.)
There are many things to consider when shopping for an eReader device. You may want to consult our comparison of popular eReaders to see the different features offered by various devices. Many electronics stores now offer demo products to try out to help you decide which one is most comfortable for you to use. And of course, you'll want to check OverDrive's list of compatible devices to make sure that the product you choose will work with KDL's eBook collection.
Please check our Technical Troubleshooting page to see if a solution to your particular error message is provided. If not, please fill out our Support Request Form or call us at 616-784-2007 and a staff member will assist you.