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eBooks

Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find eBooks on the San Francisco Public Library web page?
From the Library homepage at sfpl.org go to the eLibrary drop down menu and select eBooks. Here you will find our various eBook platforms, including OverDrive, Ebsco eBook Collection, and SafariTech. OverDrive offers popular fiction and nonfiction books including many bestsellers, while Ebsco eBook Collection and SafariTech have more reference-oriented titles.
What devices can I use to read an eBook?
  • There are many eBook readers and devices that work with OverDrive and allow you to check out and download eBooks from San Francisco Public Library at no cost. For more information on specific devices check OverDrive’s Compatible eBook Devices web page.
  • iPhone and iPad users can checkout and download OverDrive eBooks in the EPUB format only. You must download the free OverDrive Media Console for mobile devices first in order to check out and download eBooks.
  • OverDrive ebooks can now be read on all Kindle devices or by using free Kindle apps on iPhone/iPad, Android, and other mobile devices. Go to the Amazon Help Page for more information on how to checkout and download Kindle compatible ebooks.
How do I check out an eBook from OverDrive?
Go to the OverDrive Quick Start Guide to find out everything you need to know about checking out and downloading eBooks.
How long is the lending period for an eBook?
It is the same as for a physical book – 21 days. You can adjust the checkout time to 7 or 14 days if you don’t need the full 21.
How do I return an eBook?
eBooks automatically return at the end of the check out period.
What software do I need to read an eBook?
For OverDrive, you'll need Adobe Digital Editions and perhaps additional software depending on your computer system and/or portable device. Follow the link for more information on how to download OverDrive eBooks: www.overdrive.com/software/omc/. SafariTech eBooks can be viewed on personal computers and devices with web browsers; they cannot be downloaded. eBooks from the Ebsco eBook Collection can be downloaded and viewed using Adobe Digital Editions or by using their online reader.
Who do I contact if I have a question or problem?
Please visit your local library or send an email to info@sfpl.org with as much detail as possible regarding the issue you are experiencing. If it is a technical problem, please include any error messages you received as well as details about your computer, e.g., Mac/PC, operating system, version of browser used, etc.
If it’s an eBook, why is there a waitlist to check it out?
This is the model publishers negotiated with OverDrive and Ebsco eBook Collection so that libraries could provide access to eBooks. As a result, borrowing eBooks is similar to checking out physical books – one copy at a time per patron . If another patron has already checked out an eBook, you may put a hold on it. On the other hand, our SafariTech eBooks can be read simultaneously by an unlimited number of users.
Will you be adding more eBooks to the collection?
We purchase hundreds of new OverDrive eBooks every month and our SafariTech and Ebsco eBook collections are updated periodically.
What do publisher restrictions on eBook lending mean to the Library?
We want library users to have the widest possible access to eBooks through libraries, and are concerned about new restrictions by HarperCollins on the number of times an eBook sold to a library can circulate. We are equally concerned that some major publishers such as Macmillan and Simon & Schuster do not yet make their eBooks available to libraries at all.
The American Library Association’s Equitable Access to Electronic Information Task Force (EQUACC) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies are studying current restrictions as well as those that might occur in the future limiting libraries’ ability to meet the reading needs of their communities.
On March 14 the American Library Association released a statement about restrictions on library eBook lending.
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