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(Pocket-lint) - The idea of borrowing a digital book from your local library sounds like a great way to get books for free for your new fangled digital reader ebook ereader thingmebob, but is it really that simple? Here's our FAQ on what to expect:

What books are available?

There are over 300,000 titles currently available from a range of publishers including Pearson education, Random House, Rosetta Books, Wiley, Harlequin, Harper Collins, the For Dummies series, Taylor & Francis, and McGraw Hill Education covering everything from novels such and Dan Brown's latest novel, The Lost Symbol, to text books for learning how to use a computer. You can check what there is available by searching via OverDrive's website search.overdrive.com

How long can I borrow an ebook for?

Publishers and libraries are able to set the length of the loan depending on the type of book and how popular it is. Currently they can offer book loans for 7, 14 and 21 days. The maximum time is 21 days, although most libraries will let you check the ebook out again and again just like a regular book.

What happens at the end of the loan period?

You will have to recheck out the book from the library and download it again. As the copy you have on your device will have expired.

What devices will it work with?

OverDrive's loans system works with PC and Mac computers, as well as Sony's Reader range. Currently there are no other ebooks that support the OverDrive technology, however that's not to say other devices won't be available in the foreseeable future.

Will I need a computer?

Yes. You'll need it to access the library's website to download the book. However some libraries do allow you to do this at the library. The free software from Adobe will work on both Mac and PC and allow you to transfer the ebook to a number of different devices at the same time depending on what the publisher has agreed.

Will my library be offering the service?

There are 9,000 libraries around the world that have signed up to offer ebooks for loan. You can check via Sony's website sonysearch.overdrive.com for American libraries offering the scheme. In the UK it's a lot easier as only Essex, Croydon and Dorset library authorities have signed up with the promise of more in the near future.

Do I have to go to the library?

No, but you will have to be a member of that library. Unfortunately there is currently no national system in the UK to allow you to sign up to borrow the books if your local library doesn't offer the service. In the US there are state-wide libraries that are offering the service.

What if my library doesn't offer ebooks?

Then you should write to them and tell them they should. OverDrive is a distributor to the libraries for the publishers. It is the same process that the library goes through at the moment with traditional books. It has a budget that it can use to buy books to loan to its users. There is no difference if they are digital.

Can I just get it from OverDrive?

No. The company is a distributor who has no need to go direct with the public at this time.

What format does it come in?

The books are available in both EPUB and PDF. The benefit of an EPUB formatted book is that the text can be optimised for ebooks to fit on the page. PDF's will only display the page as it was created.

Can I choose to keep the book?

Nope. At the end of the loan agreement the book won't be accessible. All that is left to do is delete it. You can however visit Google's book scanning project that has 1 million free books and counting to see if there is anything worth reading there instead.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 27 August 2009.