My Favorite Free Browser Extension Has Easily Saved Me Hundreds of Dollars
If you're a big reader, you'll want to know about this.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Bookworm, reading junkie, bibliophile -- call me any of those names, I don't care. Since my childhood obsession with The Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden, I've bought way more books than I could ever read. And psst, here, I'm about to reveal the free browser extension that lets me feed my habit without spending a dime -- in fact, I'd estimate it's easily saved me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the years.
Ready? It's Library Extension, and it's so smooth to use I almost forget that everybody doesn't know about it.
I mostly use Google Chrome, so I installed it for that browser. Now when I go to Amazon looking for a book I'm curious about, the extension pops up text on the right side of that book's page and tells me if the book is available in my local library. It also shows music and audiobooks if they're available for borrowing.
Here's a recent example: A friend raved about the 2018 thriller Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman. As I write this, Amazon is selling the book for $9.99 for Kindle (£8.32, AU$14.43), $14.95 for audiobook (£12.46, AU$21.59), $13.64 and under for used hardcover, (£11.37, AU$19.70), $12.18 and under for paperback (£10.15, AU$17.59), and even $19.99 and under for an audio CD (£16.67, AU$28.87).
But when I surf over to the Amazon page for the book, my handy-dandy Library Extension pops up and points out to me that my local library here in Seattle has 10 copies of the audiobook available, eight copies of the print book, and six copies of the e-book. Well, five now -- because I immediately clicked on Borrow for the e-book.
When I did that, the extension opened up a new window for the book's page at the Seattle library website. I clicked on Borrow again, and then Get Library Book, and it immediately downloaded the e-book to my Kindle and free Kindle app on my iPhone, informing me that I had free access to the book for 21 days. Pretty good for a free extension that took less than 10 seconds to use from start to finish.
Hot, popular, brand-new books at my library are going to have a wait list. When I checked Ruth Ware's the It Girl, which just came out on July 21, 2022, Library Extension told me there was a waiting list for audiobook, e-book and print book at my library. Still, it was helpful, as it told me how many people already had a hold on the book, and how long the wait would be. I could join the Hold list or not. (Spoiler: I did, so come ask me about this book in approximately 182 days. Don't hold your breath waiting for my review.)
If you're an avid reader like me, I can't think of why you wouldn't use this extension. (I get absolutely no kickback for saying this.) As much as I love my local library, its web interface is a pain to deal with. And as much as I try to support independent bookstores, I often find myself at Amazon because... well, you know, it's ubiquitous. Also, it's easy to find a book there and read recent reviews, see the cover, determine if I really want to read it. And since I'm there anyway, I'm happy to save myself some cash and pick up books from my library instead of buying them. Happy reading!
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