Library e-books can save you money


I got my first library card when I was five years old and could print my name. I was an avid library user in Cornwall, Ontario where I grew up. I also worked in the library for three summers when I was in university.

But over the last several decades I’ve been buying books instead of borrowing them. Even buying paperbacks and trading them with family members became quite expensive. When I got an eReader app for my tablet computer a few years ago, I foundI was spending even more on books because it was just so easy using wifi to order and charge them to my credit card.

Then I learned that eBooks are available from the Toronto Public Library and they can be downloaded at any hour of the day or night without leaving my comfy desk chair. Of course popular titles often have long waiting lists, but I can put a hold on a book and when it’s my turn, I get an email. Other library systems across the country offer similar privileges.

I can use my library card to download eBook titles for three weeks. A total of 30 books checked out at the same time! When the loan period is up, items are returned automatically so I don’t have to worry about getting them back on time.

You can also check out Project Gutenberg on the web for a huge selection of classic eBook titles. Regardless of what part of the world you live in you can download books in the public domain on which copyright has expired from this site for free. Some of the most popular titles are Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Importance of Being Earnest, Wuthering Heights and Moby Dick.

Recently I decided that battery life on a tablet is not adequate for long plane trips so I decided to buy a dedicated eReader. I opted for a Kobo Glow that weighs only 6.5 ounces, fits in my purse and has a backlit screen so I can read in the dark. It is rated for around 70 hours of use with the light at 15-20 percent. The device cost $129.95 plus tax. However, I have already amortized the cost by borrowing and reading dozens of library books.

Of course I still buy books occasionally, particularly if I’m travelling for extended periods. The daily $2.99 Kobo specials are a great deal and they are pretty hard to resist. But becauseI use the library regularly, my book buying budget is now much more manageable.

This is an edited version of How an eReader can save you money first published January 24, 2014 on

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