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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.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
3 min read
Looking down a library aisle, we see the silhouette of a woman browsing for books. She's backlit by a window, and the spines of the books on the shelves reflect the light rhythmically.
Kilito Chan/Getty Images

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.

Enlarge Image

Library Extension (on the right) allows you to see if a book you've searched for on Amazon is available at your local library.

Screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

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.

Of course, the selection of library books depends on your local library system's collection. But Library Extension's website says it currently supports more than 5,000 libraries around the world. If yours isn't among them, you can ask to have it added.

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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