How to Read for Free During Coronavirus Pandemic
Scribd is offering free access for 30 days, while local libraries continue to offer free ebooks and digital resources
If you’re already tired of bingeing your favorite TV shows on streaming services, reading can help you stay sane during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scribd, a reading subscription service, and local libraries across the U.S. are providing access to all the reading material you could want, right from your couch — and it’s for free!
“Today, with millions of people around the globe staying close to home to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, access to books and information is more important than ever before. Reading can offer incredible comfort: it reduces anxiety and makes us feel more accomplished and even happier,” Trip Adler, founder and CEO of Scribd, announced in a statement on Tuesday. “So, for the next month, we will be making Scribd’s library — which includes millions of ebooks, audiobooks, magazine articles, and more — available to anyone, free, for 30 days.”
Normally a $9.99 a month subscription (after a free trial), the Scribd offer doesn’t require credit card information or a commitment. With tons of ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines, Scribd has been described as “the world’s largest library.”
“Our goal is simply to ensure everyone has access to their favorite books, authors, and quality content as we settle into our new normal for the next few weeks,” Adler adds. The offer for monthlong access can be found here.
But Scribd isn’t the only place to access free ebooks.
As everyone across the country practices social distancing, local libraries continue to provide ebooks and digital resources to their communities — even though the buildings have closed. Ramiro Salazar, president of the Public Library Association, tells PEOPLE that library leaders were incredibly “saddened” to close their doors, but they’ve been strategizing to maximize their digital content and continue to serve their communities.
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“Public libraries offer a wealth of online resources that are available to the public,” Salazar continues. “Since many libraries are being forced to close and people cannot go to a library and actually get physical items, libraries throughout the country offer a robust collection of digital content.”
He reminds readers that they can access free ebooks, audiobooks, music, movies and digital magazines through their local library. Many libraries continue to provide assistance with things like homework and resume building. Library leaders are also brainstorming creative ways to provide virtual story times and other activities that would normally be provided in-person.
To start reading and exploring digital resources, Salazar encourages people to visit their local library’s website. While a library card is usually required to access content, many libraries are also working on extending automatic access for at least 30 days, Salazar explains.
People can also download Libby, by Overdrive, an e-reading platform that allows users access to their library for free. Ninety percent of all libraries in the U.S. have partnered with the application. All that’s required is a library card. (If you don’t have one, participating libraries allow you to use your phone number to generate an instant digital card.)
“People want a break from the crisis, and so we want to separate ourselves somewhat temporarily — and reading does that,” Salazar says. “It allows you to visit other places in the world and puts you in different experiences… There are books online for meditation. So libraries can offer that and give you a respite from this bombardment of the crisis.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.