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

A 12 months in the past, I had a e book drawback.

Particularly, I had nowhere to place them. I’m a New York Metropolis renter, not a Disney princess. There are not any floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with sliding ladders that I can hold from, singing concerning the final banger of a novel I learn. It was that I’d carry a field of books to my mother’s home anytime I ran out of area on my rickety Ikea bookshelf. However when she received sick, I promised myself to make do with much less.

Simple repair, proper? Get an e-reader. 1000’s of books on a single, light-weight machine. All of the E Ink glory my decrepit eyes can deal with. Drawback solved? Sure and no. I’ve received a Kindle Paperwhite, however I’m low-cost. Regardless of being intangible, ebooks are usually dearer than paperbacks. Plus, searching Amazon doesn’t have the identical magic as wandering via 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 actual spiel to a fellow bookworm some time again. Once I was performed kvetching, she texted again three phrases. “Simply 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’ll be able to borrow or put holds on magazines and books of all kinds out of your native libraries. (A number of!) 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. When you don’t know what to learn, you’ll be able to flick thru curated suggestions. It’s not the identical as these sticky notes you’ll discover at a bookstore, the place the employees write why they beloved a specific e book on show, but it surely’s higher than Goodreads. And whilst you can learn straight from the Libby app, you can alternatively ship ebooks to your Kindle to get that candy, candy E Ink goodness.

It sounded good on paper, however I used to be skeptical. This wasn’t my first book rodeo, and the app didn’t remedy my most important points with libraries. It nonetheless had lengthy waitlists for widespread titles and imposed arbitrary mortgage intervals. Libby sat on my telephone for a number of months, unused. After which, in the summertime of 2021, my mother was identified with a terminal sickness.

It royally sucked. Books had all the time been my refuge, however they grew to become more and more unavailable to me. Once you’re a caregiver, it’s not sensible to lug tomes like The Goldfinch round to numerous appointments, and there’s not a variety of time to leisurely browse at bookstores. Plus, I used to be broke from protecting my mother’s medical payments.

Crying in H Mart in the Libby app

The e book that satisfied me to present Libby a shot.
Picture by Victoria Track / The Verge

It began with audiobooks to drown out my ideas when driving to my mother’s. Libby works with CarPlay (and Android Auto!), and in contrast to Audible, it was free. If I didn’t end an audiobook or a maintain lapsed, it wasn’t a giant deal as a result of I didn’t should go wherever or really feel like I wasted cash. Then it expanded to operating magazines. I wasn’t operating as usually as I’d have favored, but it surely was comforting to think about myself crossing end traces after I felt careworn, which was usually. Once more, Libby afforded me the fantasy with out throwing a paywall in my face.

I nonetheless held out on novels till I heard about Michelle Zauner’s memoir Crying in H Mart. No spoilers, but it surely’s a couple of Korean-American lady shedding her mom and cultural identification in a single fell swoop. Eerily related, its existence was a flame burning in my thoughts, and I used to be one other silly moth. After weeks of avoiding it, I cracked — solely to seek out it wasn’t instantly accessible in any respect my traditional haunts. However it was there on Libby. At no cost, with miraculously no waitlist on the digital Queens Public Library. I tore via it in a single afternoon.

I had a free, transportable little refuge wherever I went

After that, I noticed I had a free, transportable little refuge wherever I went. Since downloading Libby, I’ve by no means been with out one thing to learn. There was Pachinko by Min Jin Lee after I flew to Korea to bury my mother, On Earth We’re Briefly Attractive by Ocean Vuong on her birthday, and The 12 months of Magical Considering by Joan Didion after I ran a half-marathon to boost cash to struggle the illness that killed her. There have been a half dozen trashy romance novels I’m too embarrassed to call and a few stinkers I returned early. Most not too long ago, I’ve simply completed The Midnight Library by Matthew Haig and began Within the Dream Home by Carmen Maria Machado. The Haunting of Hill Home by Shirley Jackson is subsequent.

I’m conscious that there’s a darkish aspect to Libby. The economics of ebooks squarely places libraries — the very establishments that gave me solace this previous 12 months — at an obstacle. It’s an issue that even Congress has acknowledged. And but, it’s arduous to not love an app that didn’t cost me to entry the books I wanted after I wanted them.

Most significantly, I don’t have a e book drawback anymore.

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