Skip to main content

How to Check Out eBooks from the New York Public Library, and A Suggested New York List

Surely most of us have experienced at one point in our lives the dreaded realization that we've failed to return our library books on time, and we've racked up fees. A friend of mine in graduate school was so chronically late in returning her books that at one point, after accumulating hundreds of dollars in fines, the school's library staff called her in for a little counseling. One of the chief advantages of checking out eBooks from the New York Public Library, the new high tech means of borrowing, is that no late fees will accrue. The borrowed items will simply vanish from the patron's e-reading device at the end of the loan period, magically returned to the library e-shelves.

Amazon's Kindle has recently joined other e-readers in making library e-books available, including the thousands of books and audio books from the eNYPL. A simple search for New York-related titles turns up travel books of the conventional and unconventional variety, classic literature such as Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, biographies, books on the Yankees (Charley Rosen's Bullpen Diaries), contemporary cookbooks (Union Square Café and Alice's Tea Cup), and much more. The library makes audio books available, too, often providing samples. Check out an abridged audio version of Pete Hamill's Downtown: My Manhattan to listen to the Brooklyn native give voice to his memories of working "on the long, skinny island called Manhattan" or hear an unabridged version of Adam Gopnik's Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York.

The How To: You'll need a library card just like for a real library. The NYPL card will have a number, and you'll need a PIN. Search for a book or browse the eNYPL catalog online. Some books will have various formats such as a Kindle book, an Adobe EPUB eBook, or an Adobe PDF eBook. Audio files are typically formatted as a WMA Audiobook and can be used on a PC, an iPod or another device. Books can be saved to a "wish list." Saving the item to an "eList" allows continued browsing, with the item remaining on the list for 30 minutes. As only a certain amount of e-books can be circulated, the "Request item" allows notification by email if the eBook is unavailable at the time.

Checking out: After selecting the format for the preferred e-reader device (I've chosen Kindle), proceed to checkout from the eList. Upon confirming checkout, you'll go to a page with instructions. The Kindle version will lead to a new page and a "Get for Kindle" button. A second outside window opens in Amazon with the final button and the dates of the loan period. The Kindle book is then transferred wirelessly within seconds (I still find this speedy delivery like magic.) Checking out an Adobe EPUB eBook leads to a page to begin downloading the book. These versions first require downloading software - OverDrive Media Console for mobile or Adobe Digital Editions for computer reading and transfers. Don't worry. It's fairly easy. The Help section of the library site includes instructions. The eNYPL allows a maximum of 12 items at one time.

Now, let's browse the catalog for New York books.


Steps of the main branch of The New York Public Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street.
The main branch of the library includes a great reading room but not books for circulation.
That's OK. Bring your e-reader and read a checked-out book while sitting on the steps.

A selection of New York-related titles available from the eNYPL as eBooks or as audio book files:

Overheard in New York Updated: Conversations from the Streets, Stores, and Subways by S. Morgan Friedman (Penguin Group USA, Inc.) As New Yorkers, we're always overhearing crazy things. This book from 2008 collects some of the best.

A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York by Liz Robbins (HarperCollins) A portrait of the 2007 New York City Marathon with profiles of the elite runners.

The Union Square Café Cookbook: 160 Favorite Recipes from New York's Acclaimed Restaurant by Danny Meyer (HarperCollins) The popular restaurant, founded in 1985, serves American cuisine with an Italian influence.

New York Graphic by Adam Lloyd Baker (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group). Noir-ish black comedy from a British writer.

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman (HarperCollins). Highly regarded book from 2010 reconstructs the lives of Lower East Side families through their potatoes, pickles, sauerkraut, and pushcarts.

Bullpen Diaries: Mariano Rivera, Bronx Dreams, Pinstripe Legends, and the Future of the New York Yankees by Charley Rosen (HarperCollins US) A look at the games of the 2010 season and the important role of the relief pitchers.

The Kingdom of New York: Knights, Knaves, Billionaires, and Beauties in the City of Big Shots by The New York Observer (HarperCollins) A collective portrait of the New York elite of the last twenty years, many of them journalists living the high life.

A Meaningful Life by L.J. Davis. Introduction by Jonathan Lethem (New York Review Books NYRB Classics). Dark comedic novel from 1971 set in a tough New York.

Downtown: My Manhattan by Pete Hamill (Little, Brown and Company). Audio book also available. One of New York's finest novelists keenly describes the city through finely tuned observations.

Peter Stuyvesant: New Amsterdam and the Origins of New York by L. J. Krizner. Audio book, unabridged (Brilliance Audio). The story of Old Peg Leg for grades 4-7, as told in an audio book.

Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York by Adam Gopnik. Audio book, unabridged (HighBridge Company). One of our finest literary voices returns with his family from a life in Paris to find that the new New York makes a perfect fantasy city for young children.

That's it. Feel free to continue checking out real print books from your local brick-and-mortar library branch, but don't blame me if you forget to return them on time.

Home page for the eNYPL.

Related posts:

Reading for Pleasure: Recommended Stops Along Library Way

Some Serious Wi-Fi: The Edna Barnes Salomon Room at the New York Public Library

Note: Walking Off the Big Apple is available by subscription in a Kindle edition. For a modest fee, each new blog entry (free of ads) is magically delivered to your Kindle device. Subscribe now.









Popular posts from this blog

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north.  Near Beacon, a view of autumn colors from the Metro-North Hudson line One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red.  Autumn light in Hastings-on-Hudson Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.   Autumn leaves on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Hastings Still, October is a gr

Early Voting in Washington Heights, and A Walk

Early voting for the 2020 federal election in New York began on Saturday, October 24 and continues through Sunday, November 1. The weekend was overcast and autumnal, with the bright yellows of fall on display. In New York City, thousands of New Yorkers turned out at the 88 early voting locations and waited in long lines, many stretching around the block.  A line to vote in Washington Heights. The line stretched around the block multiple times. Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn were two of the well-known sites, but most voting places were typical neighborhood places such as schools, churches, and hospitals.   The scene outside the entrance to the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, one of the early voting locations in Washington Heights. In Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, two early voting locations were within a short walk of one another, causing some confusion for voters emerging from the 168th Street subway station. The Columbia Universit

The Lonesome Metropolis: A Walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center

As New York City reopens, why do the attractions of the great metropolis still look mostly deserted on a summer morning? A morning walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center sought to address this question. As it turns out, there are several adequate explanations. But for what happens next, there are no right answers. Grand Central Terminal, 9:40 am. Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Many neighborhoods outside of tourist New York are still buzzing along. While some residents of wealthier neighborhoods have largely decamped to mountain cabins, beach houses, and other second homes, the less wealthy have nowhere to go and may still be working. Just visit Washington Heights or Corona or Flatbush, and you’ll see sidewalks full of shoppers and summer evening street partiers. Those who fled the city remain only a fraction of the total population.   Grand Central Terminal, 9:40 am. Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Other renowned parts of the city such as City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge have been fr

The City Turned Inside Out: A Walk from Battery Park to Fulton Street

While the cast of HAMILTON sings “The World Turned Upside Down,” New Yorkers could easily hum along to “The City Turned Inside Out” this summer. (not a real song) Where once a city’s important work took place indoors - within the soaring office buildings, famous restaurants, legendary museums, and storied performance halls, the COVID-19 epidemic has literally turned the residents outdoors.  New landscaping in Battery Park At least it’s summer in the city, when spending time outdoors is common and pleasant enough. Still, the city remains strange this summer of 2020.  Shade plants like hosta thrive in Battery Park. The Statue of Liberty is in the distance. With the absence of tourists, and with office workers connecting virtually from home, many of the city’s main attractions aren’t attracting many visitors. A walk from the Battery to Fulton Street on a pleasant Thursday afternoon bore this out.  Statue Cruises is still sailing. It’s uplifting to at least find plants that are alive and

The Season of Owls

 A walk in Inwood Hill Park. The days following the holidays and the first of the year make a good time to check in on life in the winter forest. I have a forest just down the street from me in Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan. There, a vast old growth forest still stands. A Barred Owl faces the setting sun in Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan. A few weeks ago, someone on a local Facebook page posted a snapshot of a Barred Owl, and I was keen to go looking for it in the park. I didn't find the owl on the first day, but the next day I saw it. A handful of birder enthusiasts were already on the scene and kindly pointed it out high up in the pines. What a beautiful creature!  A stand of White Pines provides the habitat for the Barred Owl. The owl is in this picture. I know, hard to see.  Since my first owl visit, everyday life during the otherwise dreary post-holiday doldrums has taken on a finer aura. I have returned several times, each taking a different path up to the o

NYC Re-openings and Travel Advice

What will open, and how will you get there? This list will be updated following official announcements. UPDATED October 10, 2020.  Many favorite local destinations have now reopened.  Hand sanitizer dispenser at the Marble Hill station of Metro-North's Hudson line Openings  - General Information and Popular Destinations    • Restaurants: Consult this NYC Department of Transportation map  (updated link) for restaurants currently open in NYC. Starting September 30, NYC allowed indoor dining at 25% capacity. • As of September 25, outdoor dining in NYC has been extended FOREVER. • The  9/11 Memorial  reopened on Saturday, July 4. Visitors must wear masks and keep social distancing practices. • (update) Libraries: NYPL. T he library will allow a grab-and-go service at 50 locations.   • Governors Island reopened July 15 with advance reserved tickets.  • The High Line  reopened on July 16, with several rules and limitations in place, including timed entry passes - available July 9. Entra

Walking It Off: Coping with Holiday Stress During the Pandemic

When I began this series, “Pandemic Posts from the Pause: New York City in the Age of Coronavirus” in March of 2020, I could see the first young greens of spring from my window. New Yorkers were told to stay home then and away from others. As someone who enjoys walking in the city, I knew that I would need to sacrifice many things this year. I was not going to give up walking. I quickly figured out that I could safely go to Inwood Hill Park near my house and wander the trails in the old forest. In March, I could breathe in the spring air away from others. There was little else to do during those early days of the “pause.” New Yorkers suffered greatly at the beginning. In a few months we were able to get the numbers down and to manage some semblance of human interaction, at a distance and masked.  Now, with the beginning of the holidays, the city and nation faces the existential threat of the virus’s return, the political assault on democratic norms, and the ongoing threat of the clima

An Early Autumn Walk in Central Park: 2020 Edition

This week, the singer Diana Krall released a cover of “Autumn in New York,” the standard by Vernon Duke. An accompanying video , filmed in New York by Davis McCutcheon and directed by Mark Seliger, portrays the city in moody yet beautiful black and white tones. Beyond the lack of autumn colors, the film shows the empty streets of the pandemic city. The mood riffs on the underlying melancholy of the song’s lyrics, that the fall season “is often mingled with pain.” Approaching The Mall in Central Park  When I think of autumn in New York, I automatically imagine walking in Central Park in the vivid colors of the season. The images here, from a meandering one-mile stroll this past Saturday, show only a hint of autumnal glory but reflect more conventional representations of both the season and the song. Yet, walking in Central Park at the beginning of autumn is tinged for me with a hint of sadness, or truthfully, with some anxiety about the coming months. The Mall in Central Park I hadn’t v

A Morning Walk from Penn Station to Times Square

Penn Station to Times Square New York City entered a new phase of the reopening on Monday, but you would never know it from a morning walk in Midtown on the day after.  At 34th Street and 8th Avenue, an outsize reminder of the public health crisis from Montefiore Medical Center After running an errand near Penn Station, I decided to take a walk up to Times Square and Broadway before heading home from 59th Street and Columbus Circle.  34th Street looking east toward the Empire State Building I wasn’t altogether prepared for the sights and sounds of this time and this place. Like many other New Yorkers, I have rarely left my neighborhood for the past four months.  8th Avenue at W. 38th Street After exiting a quiet Penn Station near 8th Avenue and W. 33rd Street at what would normally be the end of rush hour, I found myself suddenly dropped into a city (mostly) bereft of crowds.  A few commuters near Port Authority and The New York Times building, 8th Avenue and W. 40th Street Yet, I had

Facing the Dark Ages

A close look at The Met Cloisters Update: The Met Cloisters reopened on September 12, 2020. See the museum's website for ticket information. The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 82-year-old home for its medieval collection in Fort Tryon Park (known as The Met Cloisters in recent years, the result of rebranding), dominates Northern Manhattan like a mystical fortress, like some object of a mythical quest. From nearly any direction, it’s easy to see the tower with its sandy-colored walls, double-arched windows, and Mediterranean style tile roof. Walking south on Broadway north of Dyckman Street , the way of everyday serfs and pilgrims going to market, the otherworldly sight of the imposing structure can transform an otherwise pedestrian journey.  View of The Met Cloisters from the northeast Culture and architect critic Lewis Mumford (1895-1990), reviewing the museum’s opening in 1938 for his regular column in The New Yorker, didn’t care much for the tower, but that was his