Meanwhile…at the public library

Meanwhile…at the public library

I have a lot more to say about Kindle Unlimited (how it affects authors, how to find the audiobooks, my experience in using it), but I don’t like to write too much about the same thing too many posts in a row! I like the blog to be eclectic, so that if something doesn’t appeal to a reader, they don’t have to wait too long to get to something that does. 🙂

I was inspired to take a look at my public library’s e-book collection again, based on some things I’ve heard in the past couple of days (okay, those comments did tie into KU, but still…). 😉

I haven’t looked at it in a while. I have borrowed a couple of e-books from the library in the past, but it was really to test out how it worked for you readers.

One thing that might be a bit odd is that I deliberately picked unpopular books with no waiting lists.

I did that because I didn’t want to keep someone else from getting the book sooner, when I can afford to buy it myself if I want it.

That doesn’t mean I want to spend money unnecessarily, but my Significant Other had a great insight for me once, and it applies here.

Neither one of us is good at household things. I mean things like heavy gardening, fixing a door…you know, I’m proud of myself if I can get the air filter in for the air conditioner, and I literally have screwdriver scars on my hand. 🙂

However, I used to still try to do that stuff.

My SO pointed out, though, that there are people who are really good at doing it, like doing it (I’m stressed the whole time)…and it’s how they put food on their family’s table.

Since we can afford to pay somebody (that certainly wasn’t always true, but we both have good day jobs ((knock virtual wood)) and I make some money from writing), and it benefits that person and us (no stress and better results), it makes sense to do it.

Similarly, since I can afford to get e-books outside of the public library, it makes sense for me to leave those available for someone who can’t.

That may surprise some of you…that there is a “supply issue” with e-books at public libraries. You might think they can just let as many people download an e-book as they want.

Actually, they are quite limited…even more so than you are with your individual Amazon account, typically.

Publishers have gotten looser with their restrictions with the public libraries over time, but I’m going to show you what the current state is at my library (which I would say is a good one) for people wanting to get popular e-books.

Before I do, though, here’s how you can check your own library (in most cases).

Go to

That’s the company most public libraries in the USA use for e-books (I’m reasonably sure it’s still most, although some other companies have been making inroads).

You should see a link to “Find your library”, and then you can probably find the e-books from there.

I can’t get too specific after that, because it varies considerably by library.

Here are the most popular fiction books at my library. The lending period can vary, but let’s call it two weeks. I’m going to give you the title, the number of “copies” the library has, the number of people on the wait list, and then I’ll divide the people by the copies to get an estimated wait time. I’ll also take a look to see if it is in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (eligible Prime members can borrow up to a book a month from the KOLL at no additional cost) and if it is in Kindle Unlimited (KU).

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: 14 copies, 36 on waitlist, 36 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: 16 copies, 182 on waitlist, 159 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty: 5 copies, 128 on waitlist, 358 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Sycamore Row by John Grisham: 10 copies, 59 on waitlist, 82.6 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Orphan Train by Kristina Baker Kline: 3 copies, 46 on waitlist, 214 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: 7 copies, 26 on waitlist, 52 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Inferno by Dan Brown: 9 copies, 83 on waitlist, 129 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James: 14 copies, no waitlist (available now), not KOLL, not KU
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: 5 copies, 51 on waitlist, 178 days, not KOLL, not KU
  • The Racketeer by John Grisham: 6 copies, 2 on waitlist, 5 days, not KOLL, not KU

You can see, the public library would be a place to get books you can’t get from the KOLL or the KU and get them for free…but you have to be patient.

How many fiction e-books does my public library have? 3,113.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in the USA Kindle store? 842, 979.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in the KOLL? 273,867.

How many e-books in the Literature and Fiction category in KU? 197,822.

Certainly, the public library is an important resource. I support their continued existence, and I’m happy for people who make good use of them.

I can also see how they aren’t going to provide a fully satisfactory alternative for many people to getting books (buying them individually ((which is really buying a license)), or through the KOLL or KU) from Amazon.

YLMV (Your Library May Vary). 😉

I have to say, I noticed some good prices on these books while I was checking for this story. A number of them were $4.99…that’s quite a bit lower than I would have guessed.

Here’s a search for

$4.99 literature and fiction books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

sorted by “New and Popular”.

I think a lot of you can find something you like there.


New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


9 Responses to “Meanwhile…at the public library”

  1. Lorenet Says:

    I love my local library. I use it for both e-books and e-audio. There is also an option where you can request things that they don’t already own. The library bought the series and then notified me that it was available.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Libraries have always been at the forefront of new technology and truly provide a “public service” in the most literal and noble sense of the term. Despite tight budgets they try to keep the public in mind to deliver information and content for all.

    As someone who grew up in a library I am often amazed at the people who don’t use a public library. Many of those were pulled back in when libraries began offering videos. While ebooks do not require the visit to the public library it has opened it services to a new group of those who now use the library again.

    Sometimes people cannot make a physical visit but ebooks and audiobooks available online give them the ability to once again rediscover the joy of books. So whether you are a busy parent, a person with mobility issues, someone on a tight budget, a child who needs a book for a class assignment or just a devoted reader the public library continues to deliver a true public service.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Elizabeth!

      Well said! It amuses me that some people think of libraries as old-fashioned…when it’s likely that one of the first real “databases” they encountered was the Dewey Decimal system. 🙂

  3. Harold Delk Says:

    I love my library, but borrowing popular is a waiting game … I’m NOT a patient person. I want to read want I want to read right now. I finally gave up and order the books from Amazon, read them, lend them, or lend my spare Kindle to friends or book club members. What I really wish I could borrow from the library are up to date manuals and training on various software such as Photoshop or Lightroom which are quite expensive to buy … and go out of date with each version upgrade. I could easily find books on DOS 5.1, Lotus 123, or Aldus Pagemaker, but those are not of much use today. Yeah, I’m picky! I’m hoping some of software titles will be available via the KU, but I’m not holding my breath … besides I cannot find the Pantone number for the blue I would turn.

    We are quite alike in our “household skills”. I saw a screwdriver on TV once and had no clue why anyone would need one of their own … scary looking thing. I disassembled an old clock years ago to see why it wasn’t keeping accurate time and when I put it back together found the answer; it had too many parts. Imagine all the excess parts I’d find in an internal combustion engine. My theory is that all things need only two parts; one to go up and down and one to go back and forth. The rest are just for show. My neighbors help to fix things in exchange for my keeping their computers running on the days after their grandchildren visit. Many times it’s simply plugging the monitor into a wall socket. Enough of this madness; I have to get back to Photoshop tonight … which I find a whole lot easier than replacing a light swatch. It would be simpler if I could just CTRL-X the old one and CTRL-C, CTRL-V a new one.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!


      “I disassembled an old clock years ago to see why it wasn’t keeping accurate time and when I put it back together found the answer; it had too many parts.”

      is perhaps the greatest comment I’ve ever had on this blog! 🙂 I completely understand. Your phrasing on it is perfect: insightful and funny.

      Two “lightbulb” jokes:

      Without making this one too technical (I usually use the MCSD certification if I’m telling this to geeks): “How many software experts does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, we don’t do that…it’s a hardware problem.”

      “How many object oriented programmers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None: a well-designed lightbulb would recognize the “burn out” event and fire the “change” method.”

      Couldn’t make that one not geeky… 😉

  4. Harold Delk Says:

    Love the lightbulb jokes!
    Did you also know that COBOL is short for Compiles Only Because Of Luck?

  5. Tania Marshall Says:

    I am fortunate to have access to the Navy General Library system with over 108,000 selections. This is open to active duty and retired navy personnel with a valid DoD ID card. I can check out up to 10 items at a time for 30 days. This includes audiobooks. Most are readily available without much wait listing.

    I’ve gotten into the habit of trying the library first whenever a book I want is $9.99 or more, especially if it’s a short one. I purchase books all the time and will do so readily if it’s priced at what I used to pay for paperbacks. $6.99 to $7.99.

    But I don’t see spending money when I don’t have to either. I take full advantage of the Prime lending library monthly book, the Kindle First program and the Audible daily deal for audiobook options for $5 or less.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tania!

      Wow! That sounds like a great deal for members of the Department of Defense…and no more than they deserve.

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