Best eBook Readers for Reading Public Library eBooks

Kobo Overdrive

Someone sent an email yesterday asking what’s the best ebook reader for reading ebooks from public libraries and I thought that would be a good topic for a blog post.

There are a few different library ebook services, including OverDrive, CloudLibrary, and Axis 360, but the most popular one is OverDrive.

Personally I’ve only used OverDrive but it looks like all three use Adobe DRM.

That means you have to download library ebooks to a PC and transfer them to any E Ink ereader that supports Adobe DRM using the Adobe Digital Editions software, but that’s a hassle and an antiquated way to do things in 2019.

Luckily with OverDrive there are a couple of alternatives that don’t require using Adobe Digital Editions and having to sideload library ebooks using a computer.

Kobo eReaders

The easiest way to read library ebooks is to use a Kobo ereader. The newer models have OverDrive support built-in so you don’t have to use any other device to borrow and download ebooks.

See here for directions on How to Borrow Library eBooks on Kobo eReaders Using OverDrive.

Only the newer Kobo’s support OverDrive directly; the older models still have to use Adobe Digital Editions.

The models that have OverDrive support built-in include the Kobo Aura Edition 2, the Kobo Clara HD, the Kobo Aura H2O (second gen), the Kobo Aura One, and the Kobo Forma.

The most economical option is the Kobo Aura, which sells for $99 from Walmart. For $30 more you can get the Clara HD if you want more storage space, a frontlight with adjustable color temperature, and a higher resolution screen.

Kindles (US only)

Kindles are another good option for reading library ebooks from OverDrive. Any Kindle will work, even Kindle apps, but this option is only available for US residents.

You can’t borrow library ebooks directly from a Kindle, so you still have to use a web browser on another device or the Libby app to checkout an ebook, but you can have library ebooks sent to Kindles wirelessly via Wi-Fi and that’s a lot more convenient than having to use Adobe Digital Editions, and no Adobe account is required.

Here’s the directions for Borrowing eBooks from Public Libraries on Kindles.

Other Options

Most other ebook readers require sideloading library ebooks with Adobe Digital Editions so there’s no real advantage to any specific one for the purpose of reading library books. Android ebook readers, including those made by Onyx and Boyue, can load Android apps like OverDrive and Libby for library books, but the problem with those apps is they aren’t designed for E Ink screens. They might work well enough to be usable but the overall experience on a Kobo or Kindle is going to be a lot smoother.

11 Responses to “Best eBook Readers for Reading Public Library eBooks”

  1. If you use OverDrive, be aware that in some states there are public libraries that will allow you to have a library card on the basis of being a state resident rather than a city resident. For example, many California libraries only require state residence no matter where you live in the state. I believe some large texas cities also have this sort of offer.

    Since OverDrive collections vary by library, this means that with a little legwork you might be able to significantly expand the selection you have available to you. Go online and look at the library card requirements for library districts in your area to see if you can take advantage of this.

  2. I am looking for an ereader same like kindle fire (1st Gen 2013 launch). I want the exact same thing but without camera as I work at offshore.

    Kindly advise.

  3. You need a library card to borrow ebooks from the Calgary libraries in Alberta Canada using overdrive or libby. The libby app works well with my Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.

  4. In Ohio, we can have cards from multiple library systems. We really don’t need that though as almost every library in Ohio is affiliated with “The Ohio Digital Library” (

    Borrowing from this collection using my Kobo Aura One could not be easier.

  5. Apples iPhones and iPads can use the Oversrive Libby App and the cloud drive app. The Libby app is fantastic and can load overdrive books from multiple libraries.

  6. Right, John. Libby is fantastic. So can Kindle Fires.

  7. George Wilkinson Reply March 24, 2019 at 5:05 am

    You missed the best reason for using Adobe Digital Editions – sharing books. My wife and I enjoy many of the same authors so we constantly share downloaded library books.