It’s Now Easier Than Ever to Find Free Ebooks Legally, Thanks to Google

two people behind books in a library
Josh Felise/Unsplash

Google just made it easier for you Penny Hoarding bookworms to save a little cash while supporting your local libraries.

Now, when you Google a book, you can see if your local library has a copy of the ebook right on the first page. The web-search giant announced the upgrade via Twitter last month, and I tried it out today to see how user-friendly it is.

I’m reading “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I borrowed my copy from a friend, but you can probably borrow a copy from your local library.

When I searched the title on Google, I saw the normal search results: a link to purchase it from Amazon, a Goodreads rating, the New York Times review.

But just below the information pulled from Wikipedia and the purchasing options was the “Borrow ebook” section that showed the three library systems near me that offer it in ebook format.

To borrow the ebook, all I would need to do is click on the library system I am a member of and follow the borrowing process on the library’s website.

You don’t need a library card to see if the book is available, but you will need one to borrow the ebook or place a hold on it if someone else got to it first.

Google Won’t Tell You About Everything Your Library Offers

While this new Google ebook feature is pretty awesome and will save you from having to read the often awkward formatting of the “free” (read: stolen) PDF versions of your favorite books, Google won’t passively show your library’s entire catalogue.

I tried searching for movies I knew were available at my library and a few other unexpected things libraries lend, but there was no “borrow” feature there.

For now, that means the Google feature can only be used for ebooks, but we could all use another reason to visit our local libraries, right?

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She really recommends “Between the World and Me.” It’s a fantastic book.