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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

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