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​Download free e-books from your local library -- here's how

Never pay for another e-book with these free, and legit, ways to download free books.

If you're an insatiable reader and you want as many e-books as you can get for free, look no further than the library. Recently, the New York Public Library put 300,000 books on an app called SimplyE. The app is available for Android and iOS, but is only available to those with a NYPL library card.

Don't live in New York? No worries.

Other libraries are offering ebook apps


A sample of books from the SimplyE app.

Alina Bradford/CNET

The NYPL isn't the only library jumping on the app train, though. The San Diego Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and other metropolitan areas also have apps.

All you need to check out books with these apps is the barcode number from your library card and your PIN number.

Just like regular library books, you don't get to keep them forever. You read them through the app and when your checkout time is up, they are "returned" to the library. The number of books you can check out varies depending on the library.

To find your city's app, type in the name of your city's library into the search in your app store. You will need to download apps to find out if they offer e-books, but a lot of them say in the expanded description that they cover e-books.

Some of these apps offer more than just free ebooks through your library, too. You can also get access to movies and audio books, see which real books you have checked out and more.

Help for small towners

The big problem with these apps is if you don't live in big city, your library probably doesn't have an app. There are apps, though, that connect to your local library so you can download e-books. For example, when you sign up with Hoopla, it will search for your local library and connect to your library's e-book, movie and audio book collection using your library card number. 3M Cloud Library works on the same concept.

Last ditch effort for free ebooks

If your town doesn't have an app, and those like Hoopla and 3M Cloud Library can't find your library, don't give up hope. Many small-town libraries offer access to e-books through special websites. The best way to find out about these sites is by contacting your library.

A helpful CNET reader pointed out that active duty US military, retirees and reservists and their dependents have access to elibraries. Follow these links for more information:

Have a Kindle? Here's how to check out library e-books on your Kindle Fire.