#BooksForwardHelpline: Helping you learn how to download ebooks and audiobooks, and connecting you to your next great read

With libraries and many bookstores closing physical locations for quarantine and Amazon suspending nonessential shipments, book lovers who prefer physical copies are faced with a dilemma: How will you get your hands on your next great read? We understand not everyone is familiar with how to access ebooks and audiobooks, and figuring this out can be daunting if you’re self-isolating due to COVID-19.

Books Forward has organized a free helpline to connect readers with the books they need. Call us at (615) 212-8549 between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. CT, or browse our resources below.

We can help you:

1. Learn how to download ebooks and audiobooks

Read our helpful guide, and call us if you have any questions. We can walk you step-by-step through the process of downloading digital and audiobooks so you can easily begin reading or listening to a new book at the touch of a button.

2. Troubleshoot downloads to your preferred e-reader, iPad, computer or phone

Providers offer online help desks to assist you through common issues you may run into:

And call us if you still need help figuring out the best way to download reading material, regardless of your reading device.

3. Offer reading recommendations to help you find a new book you’ll love

Need something new to read and not sure where to start? You can join our #BooksForward Reading Challenge, where we are reading, sharing and discussing one new book each week (a great way to feel more connected right now!). And check out our curated reading list, where we’ve compiled some of our favorite books that are particularly helpful and relevant for readers who are stuck at home during this time. Or call us! We have tons of great recommendations for you based on your reading preferences!

4. Discover how to support indie bookstores and libraries from home

You may be able to pick up a physical book curbside at your local bookstore or library. But you can still engage with and support your favorite independent bookstore and local library, even when their doors are closed. We’ll teach you how to order ebooks from bookstores and use your library’s app to download books.

Ready to get reading? Call our Books Forward helpline at (615) 212-8549 if you have any additional questions, and let us help you get connected to your next great book without leaving home!

Also check out these resources and articles from our family of authors and experts in response to coronavirus: 

May you have happy and healthy reading.

New to digital and audiobook downloads? Here’s what you need to know. 

You’re homebound due to COVID-19, your local library and bookstore are closed, and you’ve just finished the last book on your shelf. What’s a reader to do? With popular online retailers like Amazon suspending nonessential shipments such as physical book deliveries (although we would argue that good literature is essential in times of stress or crisis), the fact is that digital and audiobooks are now your best, most easily accessible reading option.  

But what if you’re new and unfamiliar to the world of literary downloads? Not to worry: purchasing digital and audiobooks is easier than ever, and we’re here to walk you through it. 

There are multiple sites and apps where you can easily purchase ebooks and audiobooks. The most popular are Kobo, Amazon Kindle, My Must Reads, Libro.FM, Scribd and Audible

We urge you to support your local bookstores even while their doors are closed for coronavirus, by purchasing digital ebooks from them directly using Kobo and My Must Reads, and you can purchase audiobooks from them via Libro.FM. A few clicks, and boom! You’ve got a new book downloaded immediately to your phone, tablet, computer or reading device, and you’re benefiting your local bookseller. Indiebound also offers helpful info on each service.

Kobo enables you to purchase ebooks directly through indie bookstores, and BookRiot has super helpful step-by-step instructions on how to create an account and start downloading books from your preferred store. (Note that Kobo is not compatible with Kindle readers, because they have partnered with indie bookstores to sell their own ereader.) 

My Must Reads has a list of indie bookstores right on its homepage, giving easy access to purchase ebooks directly from the store.  

Libro.FM is a monthly subscription service for audiobooks, and right now they’re offering all new members two audiobook downloads for the price of one ($14.99) with 100% of your payment going to a local bookstore of your choice. Helpful tip: You have to purchase books on Libro’s website and then it goes to your app.

While each site has a slightly different approach, the basic steps are: 

  1. Register for an account or subscription with your preferred site. 
  2. If you don’t have an ereader, download your preferred site’s app to your computer, tablet or phone. You can find their app in the App Store of your device.
  3. Once you’ve created an account and are perusing the site, select the books and audiobooks you would like to purchase and download. You should be able to download them, or add them to your cart, with a single click.
  4. Pay for your selected downloads (if you purchased a subscription, you may skip this step, as you will have access to multiple or even unlimited downloads). 
  5. Start reading and/or listening to your next great book! 

Be sure to also check out our Books Forward Helpline (booksforward.com/helpline) for reading recommendations and other helpful resources related to social distancing and reading from home.

Now let’s take a closer look at what you may see when using these apps to download books:

 

The library is your friend, even if you can’t get to it

So you’re stuck at home, either because you aren’t feeling well or because you’re doing social distancing until the coronavirus hopefully goes away for good. For me, the library is my safe space – I go there when I’m stressed out or just need to escape. And it can still be that for you, even while you’re homebound!

Take advantage of all the other amazing opportunities the library offers online! Most libraries have either the Libby by OverDrive or the original OverDrive app, and others use Hoopla, cloudLibrary or RBDigital – all of them make it easy to download ebooks and audiobooks to your heart’s content.  For FREE! 

Here’s a step by step guide for those readers new to the online resources libraries offer:

  • First things first, if you don’t already have a library card, standard practice is to go into the library with a piece of mail that has your name and current address on it. But give your local library a call to see if they’re letting people sign up online during this unique time.
  • Download your preferred app from your phone’s app store – Libby by OverDrive is the most common option, but Hoopla and RBDigital are similar.
  • To find sign in information, go to your library’s website, and see if you have a personal account. You’ll have to use your library card number (found on your card itself) to sign in, and most libraries assign a password to you – there should be a section that walks you through the steps. But if you have trouble, just call and they can help!
  • We’re almost to the really fun part! When you have your library card number and password, open the Libby or Overdrive app on your phone, and enter your library card number and password.
  • Behold all the options open to you! You’ll see the library’s suggestions, but there’s also a search bar at the top where you can check and see if a book you want is available.
  • Audiobooks have a small headphone icon below the cover graphic to designate them from ebooks.
  • If a book is not currently available, instead of “borrow,” it will say “place hold.” Once you place your hold, you’ll get an estimate of how soon the book will be checked out to you – it’s usually pretty accurate! 
  • When you check out a book, it will go to your “shelf,” which can be found at the bottom right of your home screen. This will show you the loans you currently have, and all the books you put on hold.
  • Audiobooks open within the app, and most ebooks can be read within the app or on your preferred e-reader.
  • And you can check out multiple books and audiobooks at a time, because who doesn’t love options?
  • If you like to listen at a faster speed than the narrator speaks, there is an option at the top of your audiobook to speed things up. Just tap until you find the speed you prefer.
  • You can also increase the size on an ebook’s font with reading settings, and change the page color to best suit your preference!
  • Most libraries also make it easy to put books on hold through their website, and then you’ll get an email when it’s available for pick up. Some even offer drive-thru windows – all of these steps will help limit physical contact if you prefer a physical book!

Let’s take a closer look at how to use Libby!

 

Need some suggestions or have more questions on how all of this works? Visit the Books Forward Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/booksforwardpr/) for video explanations on our stories, and check in with us – we’re more than happy to help! And if YOU have more tips to share, please comment here or on our Instagram post. Book friends gotta stick together!

Our Books Forward team cannot stress enough how crucial libraries are to our society. On top of providing communities with books and other media we love to consume, they offer many other trustworthy, reliable and informative resources, including on the coronavirus. Check out this handy guide put together by the Eastern Virginia Medical School Library to help us all understand the outbreak.