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An app for free books

There’s a new app that I’m so excited about. It’s basically new books, for free, delivered to a pickup spot near your home. And when you’re done with it, you drop the book back off, so it doesn’t add to the clutter in your house. I just used it, and I’m happy to report it worked marvelously.

I’ll tell you what it’s called in a second, but first, here’s how it works.

My favorite musician (John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats) just wrote a brand new book. I can’t wait to read it, but I’m also trying to cut down on clutter in our apartment.

So I go to this app (I’ll share it in a second). I look to see if anyone’s asked them to buy the book yet. Nobody has, so they don’t have it available. No problem!

I put in a request that they get the book. All I have to do is give them the name of the book and the ISBN, and they take it from there. Later that day, they send me an email to say that they’ve ordered it, and it’s on its way.

A week later, I swing over to the pickup/dropoff point, and get the book, already set aside with my name on it.

I pick up a brand new book. For FREE.

They give me a window of time to read the book, but if I’m taking longer than expected, I can extend the window with the click of a few buttons on their site.

Once I’ve finished the book, I just swing back by the pickup/dropoff point and leave the book with them. And if anyone else in the area used the app to request that book, the app sends them a notification that it’s ready to go.

Since I’m trying to clear out clutter from our apartment, when I drop off the book, I also drop off another book that’s in good shape that I’m ready to share with the world. The app adds it to their database, and others can now read that one, too. And, again, for free.

So what is this amazing new service?

Mmmmaybe you’ve guessed the app by now.

It’s actually “the library”. That’s not an app name, though. Don’t bother looking on the app store for it. I’m just talking about the regular, brick-and-mortar library, right in your own neighborhood.

But even though the “app” part of what I wrote above isn’t true, the rest of it is.

Libraries are incredible resources, and one of the things they really like doing is buying new books for you. Part of a library’s job is to acquire new materials, and they really want to — as much as they can — acquire new materials that their patrons will check out. So when you give them insights as to what books you most want to read, that helps them out.

And for those of you concerned about authors, and book sales, and whether one library acquisition means lost sales for authors? Studies have shown that library acquisitions actually increase total book sales. The greater the number of people who are exposed to a book, the higher the chances are that some of them will decide to buy it for keeps or as a gift.

Another app isn’t always the answer. We have AMAZING resources in our communities. Make the most of them!

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Amy B

    Agree with everything here – the library is a fantastic resource! My “rule” for myself is to get a book through the library first if at all possible and then purchase only if I genuinely plan to read again in the future and will use at home as a reference.

    Another great thing that many people are just starting to realize: most US public libraries also offer ebook loans! I use DC Public Library Overdrive to borrow ebooks and have found that they offer about half of the books that I want to read. Incredibly convenient.

    • Jennifer

      Agreed! The Overdrive app makes using my library extra convenient as I nurse my baby and only have one free hand and limited time with a toddler on the run too. Plus, no late fees ever!

  2. Bron

    That is a classic…i use my library all the time. I love that I can go online order in a book from a far flung library and they let me know when it is in….you are so right what could be better than that. x

  3. Steph

    We use the library all the time…for the kids and the adults! I love putting a book on hold and having it waiting right there for me when I go to pick it up.

  4. Carrie Roer

    Thank you for posting this!! I work at a small-town public library, and we really do want to hear from patrons what they’d like us to get. We will ALWAYS either buy something for our own collection or have it sent to us from another library within a week. All you have to do is ask!

    If I let myself, I would be a book-buying-aholic. I LOVE to read. But if there’s a book I want to read I will always check it out from the library first. If it ends up being something I think I’d read again, I’ll buy it after that.

    Libraries offer so much more than books today now too (we even have a bookmark at ours listing all of the great things we have for patrons) such as movies, ebooks, audio books, internet access, wifi, genealogy research, magazines and newspapers, not to mention special events and programs every month for kids and adults, all for free!!

    Many local libraries are supported by your tax dollars, so please continue to patronize yours!

    • Charlie Park

      Haha, yeah, our budget would look pretty different without a library nearby. 🙂 Especially when the girls were learning to read, the library saved us so much money, and gave us such a wide selection of great books. Thanks for everything you do!

    • Fawn Carriker

      Amen! I am a book lover (maybe verging on hoarding) and have absolutely no more room. The Visalia branch of the Tulare County Library is my go-to place for books…and I can bring them home in groups, not just one at a time.

      My granddaughters love the beautifully re-designed Children’s Wing, too. Read on! – Fawn

  5. Alicen

    I LOVE this post! I’m an avid library user, 1) because I cannot afford to buy all the books I’d like to read, and 2) because I’m not a re-reader so the books I buy just sit on the shelf until years later when I get rid of them anyway. My local library also usually has a used book sale once or twice a year where they sell off some of their books for CHEAP. Those I keep in a stack in the closet to take on vacation or travel so that it’s not a big deal if I lose it. I don’t like to take library books on my travels for that reason.

  6. Kat

    Ha! Though I do I use my library apps all the time. Both Overdrive for ebooks/audiobooks and my library’s mobile app for access to their catalog — I can check on what’s due, check on what books they have available, place holds, make requests. The library is an indispensable resource for us, and a huge budget saver.

  7. Sarah

    Great points! And I actually do use apps to access my library too! My library system does charge for placing books on hold though, so I tend to find myself hesitating more to check stuff out- especially if I am trying to determine if I should just buy the ebook on sale instead of paying just as much to put something on hold.

    • Jaclyn

      That’s sort of depressing. Ours charges for inter-library loan, which makes sense since there is a cost involved with postage and all, but it seems rather unnecessary to charge for a hold. It doesn’t really create a lot of extra work anywhere and it shouldn’t cost the library anything to do it.

  8. Sarah M

    Ha! I knew right where you were going. I have always had the library buy me books and it works great. I think in my 5 or 6 years of doing so, and I’m thinking around 60-70 requests, I’ve only been denied once. We are heavy library users over here, and when I find out some of my friends and family never go to the library, I’m amazed…
    Sarah M

  9. Natalie

    I love this. When I hear about a book I want to read, my first stop is Amazon to check the price and the reviews and then I pop over to my local library’s app to request it. I work a quarter mile from the library so I get free exercise as well during my lunch break to walk over and pick up my free books. It’s really a radical idea… Thanks for the great post!

  10. Courtney

    I love it! Very smart, Charlie. I kept scrolling, thinking that this app sounds like a library! Thanks for the reminder – sometimes we need a good punch in the arm when we forget about our lovely, beautiful, priceless traditional world ways.

    Viva la real books, the buildings that house them, and the old-school smells of each. Yeehaw!

  11. Melissa

    Great Post. The Library is one of my favorite places. Ours also lets us download ebooks, borrow movies and do research from the comfort of our home.

    A perfect day of rest and relaxation always includes time browsing the stacks.

  12. Laura Tawney

    I also love to request books on CD as I listen to them on my way to work. It makes the drive to work so much more enjoyable and then I don’t even mind traffic!

  13. Polly

    We have 6 kids, so when those Scholastic flyers come home, it is not possible to order everyone’s “choice”. We take the flyer right to the library website and put those books on hold — problem solved. I love the hold option because I am able to run into the library, find the envelope with my name on it, and run right out if I need to get a tired three year old home.

  14. Alyssa

    We love our library and use it a lot with homeschooling 4 kids. Where we live, though, the library is not free unless you are in the city limits (it’s not run by the county) Many places in our town are not included, so it costs us $120 a year. We definitely get our money’s worth, but there was a time when I first lived here and couldn’t afford it. I figure that’s $10 a month and most books cost more than that. I had never heard of such a thing until I lived here.

  15. Stephanie S

    Love this post! We love our local library. It’s connected to a system of libraries so if our local branch doesn’t have the book I want they can often get it from another branch and I love to make purchase decisions. Plus our library actually does have an app 🙂

  16. Cathy

    Funny, I was reading this and thinking, um, isn’t that basically like the library? 🙂

  17. Liddy

    In our area, if you live in the city limits a library card is free, but if you live outside the city limits (which we do) there’s a $50 annual charge for a library card. :/

  18. allison

    LOVE this!!! And love how you presented it. As I was reading the post I was wondering how the company would make money off this, and how could they have pick up points all over the place, etc – lol! And the answer is one of my favorite places in the world – a library!! Was just there last night and got two books on CD for my ride to work and a book about memory – possibilities are endless at a library. Long live the libraries!

  19. Caroline Starr Rose

    When I moved back to my hometown, one of my first stops was my childhood library.

  20. MD Everly

    Too funny, about four lines in I was thinking why would..when the library does this and so much more. The modern library is amazing. All the kids books, novels DVD my family of avid reader could ever consume are just mouse clicks away. And great librarians are fantastic for recommending books (better than a Netflix algorithm)

  21. Dee

    Love! We use the library a lot. A few years ago, a friend gave me a 1-month subscription to Book Swap (I think it’s now called booksFree or something). You pay a monthly fee for them to lend you books. It was a thoughtful gift, but all I could think was…isn’t that the library? Worse – they didn’t have the book I really wanted to read on vacation until after vacation was over!

  22. Kacey

    Ha-ha! I love you spun this. The whole time I was reading, I was thinking that sounds like the library. Why would someone spend money recreating the library. The best thing with library apps these days is you don’t even have to drive anywhere to pick up a book; you can just download ebooks or audiobooks on your mobile devices.

  23. Lori

    I had my wedding reception at a library. I love a good library.

    We are about to have two new libraries open up by our home in the “country’. I absolutely can not wait.

  24. Emily

    How refreshing! Thanks for this.

  25. Jaclyn

    I’ve loved the library since I was quite small. We went probably once a week, usually with a big bag to haul the books home in! It’s a good thing my mom was always on the lookout for good books for me to read, otherwise I probably would have just checked out the same things over and over.

    When I moved away from my hometown to a much smaller town, I discovered I have mixed feelings about the library here. On the one hand, it really is a wonderful small-town library. Great librarians, a beautiful old building (it’s a Carnegie library), and conveniently located just 2 blocks from my house. On the other hand…I really miss actually being able to find the books I’m looking for. This library is necessarily much smaller (serves a town of 1500 vs. city of 120,000) and they typically don’t have any of the more unusual books I’m usually trying to find. (I read a lot of older, less-well-known titles, not so much of what’s currently popular). I’ve always kept a notebook with a list of books to look for at libraries and book sales, but lately I’ve been so disappointed at my inability to find any of these titles that I’ve adopted a new philosophy–instead of looking for anything specific I usually just wander around the library till I find something that catches my eye. I’ve discovered several good things that way…guess I’ll just have to keep checking the used book stores for my less common titles!

  26. Marla Taviano

    We’re moving overseas in January, and I’m already mourning the loss of our library system.

  27. Stephanie

    I agree, libraries are fantastic. I’ve recently made a big effort to borrow books rather than buy them for the same reason as you… to stop the clutter! I love physical books but also value floor space which is limited in an apartment. Some people argue that libraries are old fashioned and don’t have a place in modern times but I think they’re very important. Not just for cutting down on clutter but also for giving access to books to people who don’t have the disposable income to buy everything they want to read. I hope councils continue funding them and communities continue to use them.

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