How my iPhone helps me use the public library

I don’t know if I’m the only person who has figured this little trick out, but I thought I’d share how I use my iPhone to save lots of money on books…
When I am at a bookstore (which is quite common, actually) and see a book that I think I’d like to read, but am not particularly enthused about paying $20-$30 for a copy of my own, I use my iPhone to take a photo of the book cover. Like this:

neal stephenson

Then, when I get home…


… I bring up the book cover image on my phone, log in to my local public library and search for the title. If they have it (and they almost always do), then I can request a hold for free.
When it shows up and is on the hold shelf for me, I get an email from the library letting me know and then have three weeks to read it from when I pick it up. Then someone else can enjoy it.
Net cost: $0.00.
What I most like about it is that I can easily make the buy or borrow decision while knowing that I’m not going to miss out on great new works of literature or drown in stacks of books or have to buy new bookshelves every few weeks.
So, am I alone in doing this, or are there other folk who use this sort of approach as an easy way to keep up on books without going bankrupt?

5 comments on “How my iPhone helps me use the public library

  1. Well, I do a similar thing .. I cut out the bestseller list from the Sunday paper and then put all the books I’m interested in on hold at the library via their website.

  2. Our local libraries are so awesome! I do something similar, as well, to save money. The dvd fines are what add up for me, though… Something like 50 cents a day fine. :O)

  3. Yep, I do the same thing the same way other than the iphone part. i just look up my book or author on a webpage like barnes and noble then look up the public library and request. i’ve saved tons of space AND money!

  4. I do this! It started as a take a pic of the book to find out more about it later before making a purchase. Then about three weeks ago, I joined my local library. Boom! Libraries are too awesome. Our local has free wifi, a really good catalogue of books and if they don’t have something you want, you can request it and they will generally get it for you.
    So was Anathem good? I’ve been a massive Neal Stephenson fan since the baroque cycle.

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