The Libby app put a refuge in my pocket when I needed it most

A yr in the past, I had a e-book downside.

Specifically, I had nowhere to put them. Im a New York City renter, not a Disney princess. There aren’t any floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with sliding ladders that I can grasp from, singing concerning the final banger of a novel I learn. It was once that Id carry a field of books to my mothers home anytime I ran out of area on my rickety Ikea bookshelf. But when she acquired sick, I promised myself to make do with much less.

Easy repair, proper? Get an e-reader. Thousands of books on a single, light-weight machine. All the E Ink glory my decrepit eyes can deal with. Problem solved? Yes and no. Ive acquired a Kindle Paperwhite, however Im low-cost. Despite being intangible, ebooks are usually more expensive than paperbacks. Plus, shopping Amazon does not have the identical magic as wandering by way of a bookstore.

What I wished was the comfort of an e-reader with the curation of a bookstore. If it might be as reasonably priced as a library with out forcing this pajama gremlin to go exterior, all the higher. I texted this precise spiel to a fellow bookworm a whereas again. When I was accomplished kvetching, she texted again three phrases. Just obtain Libby.

What I wished was the comfort of an e-reader with the curation of a bookstore

For the uninitiated, Libby is a free (!) library app powered by OverDrive. You can borrow or put holds on magazines and books of all types out of your native libraries. (Multiple!) All you want is a library card. For some libraries, you’ll be able to punch your telephone quantity into the Libby app to get one. If you dont know what to learn, you’ll be able to flick thru curated suggestions. Its not the identical as these sticky notes youll discover at a bookstore, the place the workers write why they liked a specific e-book on show, however its higher than Goodreads. And whilst you can learn immediately from the Libby app, you could possibly alternatively ship ebooks to your Kindle to get that candy, candy E Ink goodness.

It sounded good on paper, however I was skeptical. This wasnt my first e book rodeo, and the app didnt resolve my most important points with libraries. It nonetheless had lengthy waitlists for standard titles and imposed arbitrary mortgage intervals. Libby sat on my telephone for a few months, unused. And then, in the summer time of 2021, my mother was recognized with a terminal sickness.

It royally sucked. Books had all the time been my refuge, however they turned more and more unavailable to me. When youre a caregiver, its not sensible to lug tomes like The Goldfinch round to varied appointments, and theres not a lot of time to leisurely browse at bookstores. Plus, I was broke from masking my mothers medical payments.

Crying in H Mart in the Libby app

The e-book that satisfied me to offer Libby a shot.
Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

It began with audiobooks to empty out my ideas when driving to my mothers. Libby works with CarPlay (and Android Auto!), and in contrast to Audible, it was free. If I didnt end an audiobook or a maintain lapse, it wasnt a huge deal as a result of I didnt should go anyplace or really feel like I wasted cash. Then it expanded to operating magazines. I wasnt operating as typically as Id have appreciated, however it was comforting to think about myself crossing end traces when I felt burdened, which was typically. Again, Libby afforded me the fantasy with out throwing a paywall in my face.

I nonetheless held out on novels till I heard about Michelle Zauners memoir Crying in H Mart. No spoilers, however its about a Korean-American lady shedding her mom and cultural identification in one fell swoop. Eerily related, its existence was a flame burning in my thoughts, and I was one other silly moth. After weeks of avoiding it, I cracked solely to seek out it wasnt instantly obtainable in any respect my regular haunts. But it was there on Libby. For free, with miraculously no waitlist on the digital Queens Public Library. I tore by way of it in a single afternoon.

I had a free, moveable little refuge wherever I went

After that, I realized I had a free, moveable little refuge wherever I went. Since downloading Libby, Ive by no means been with out one thing to learn. There was Pachinko by Min Jin Lee when I flew to Korea to bury my mother, On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong on her birthday, and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion when I ran a half-marathon to boost cash to battle the illness that killed her. There had been a half dozen trashy romance novels Im too embarrassed to call and a few stinkers I returned early. Most lately, I simply completed The Midnight Library by Matthew Haig and began In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is subsequent.

Im conscious that theres a darkish facet to Libby. Tea economics of ebooks squarely places libraries the very establishments that gave me solace this previous yr at a drawback. Its a downside that even Congress has acknowledged. And but, its arduous to not love an app that didnt cost me to entry the books I needed when I needed them.

Most importantly, I haven’t got a e-book downside anymore.

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