eBooks: OverDrive

Frequently Asked Questions
eBook Questions? Ask a Librarian
What happened to the old OverDrive ?
OverDrive has redesigned its site to make it easier to use. Check out the details here.
What is the OverDrive Read format?
It is a new web browser-based format that allows you to read OverDrive ebooks on most browser-based devices like your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Click here for more details.
How do I find eBooks on the San Francisco Public Library webpage?
From the Library homepage at sfpl.org, go to the eLibrary drop down menu and select eBooks or just type sfpl.org/ebooks into the address box. Here you will find our various eBook platforms, including OverDrive, Axis 360, Ebsco eBook Collection, and SafariTech. OverDrive and Axis 360 offer 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 OverDrive eBooks?
There are many eBook readers and devices compatible with OverDrive that allows you to check out and download eBooks from the San Francisco Public Library at no cost. For more information on specific devices check out OverDrive’s Compatible eBook Devices web page.
OverDrive ebooks can be read on most eBook readers, smartphones and tablets that support the EPUB format. You will need the Adobe Digital Editions software installed and registered to get started. Watch these short videos that demonstrate the process.
OverDrive ebooks can also be read on all Kindle devices or by using the free Kindle apps available for Windows/OS,  iPhone/iPad (iOS), Android, and other mobile devices. Check out the Kindle How-To videos to find out more. You can also find useful information at the Amazon Help Page on how to checkout and download Kindle compatible ebooks.
See the eBook Software Requirements Chart for more information.
What do I need to use OverDrive?
  • Download the required software for your device.
  • Register your device with either Adobe (non-Kindle) or Amazon (Kindle).
  • Check out ebooks from the library’s OverDrive site.
  • At the time of checkout, you will need your library card number and PIN to check out library eBooks.
How do I check out an eBook from OverDrive?
Go to the OverDrive Digital Help page for everything you need to know about checking out and downloading ebooks.
How many holds can I place at one time?
You can place up to 15 holds at one time. These are not counted against your print book holds.
How many ebooks can I check out at once?
You can check out up to 10 titles at one time. These are not counted against your limit for print materials.
What do I do when I receive notice that my hold is ready?
Be sure to read any instructions given in the email. Go to the link provided in the email and proceed to check out the item. You have 72 hours, once you receive the email, to check out your holds item before it expires and is given to the next patron on the holds list.
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. Learn more about our eBook lending policies here.
How do I renew my eBook?
The option to renew a title becomes available three days before the title is set to expire. Renewing puts you in line to borrow a title again once your first checkout expires. Please click here for more information on how to renew.
How do I return an eBook early?
For Kindle formatted ebooks, you can return them from within the Manage Your Kindle area of the Amazon.com site. For more info on borrowing Kindle books from the library, check out the Public Library Books for Kindle page.
For EPUB formatted ebooks you can return ebooks from within the Adobe Digital Editions software.
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 Axis 360, OverDrive and the 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.
Will you be adding more eBooks to the collection?
We purchase hundreds of new Axis 360, OverDrive eBooks every month and our SafariTech and Ebsco eBook collections are updated periodically.
Take our survey