- To start with, create an amazon.com account if you don't already have one, install their free Kindle reading software on whatever device(s) you want to read your e-books on, and register that software to your Amazon account (if nothing else that device can be the same PC or Mac you used to set up your account, assuming you'll have access to it again).
- Go to http://www.spl.org and log in with your Seattle Public Library card information.
- Select Downloads -> Overdrive, which should take you to the spl.lib.overdrive.com site, then click on "Advanced Search" on the left.
- Select the "Kindle Book" format, select a subject, switch "Order by" to "Most popular," optionally check "Only show titles with copies available," and finally click on Search.
- When you find a book you want to read, click on "Add to Cart" in the "Kindle Book" section that appears beneath it. Then click on "Continue Browsing" if you'd like to check out more e-books, otherwise click on "Proceed to Checkout" (after which you'll probably be prompted to re-enter the same login information you used to log into the Seattle Public Library site). Note that if you didn't check "Only show titles with copies available" when searching for books you'll probably be presented with some titles for which there is a waiting list: in such cases you "Place A Hold" rather than "Add to Cart" and you'll be emailed once an electronic copy is available, after after which you'll have five days to log in and actually complete the check-out process.
- On the checkout page, if you're certain you'll finish your books in less than one week, and furthermore intend to check out more than twenty-five e-books over the next three weeks, then change the lending period from "21 days" to "7 days". Otherwise just click on "Confirm Check Out," then click on the "Get for Kindle" button which appears next to your book. This will open a page for that book on amazon.com's web site: on that page click on "Get Library Book" for your title, after which you'll likely be prompted to log into your amazon.com account.
- On the Amazon web site, select the Kindle device you want to initially transfer this book to (though you'll generally be able to download it to other devices you own later on).
- Start the Kindle software on that device, and download your book.
I shouldn't have to point out what a boon this is for people with either a limited budget, limited mobility, or vision impairment: you can read all the books you like (with a selection of over 27,000 titles including some of the most popular ones) for free without ever leaving your home, you can never incur a late fee or lose/damage a book, and by merely making a setting in the Kindle reading software you can make a given book's text as large as you need.
I consider this a real public service, and believe Amazon, Overdrive, and the Seattle Public Library all deserve to be congratulated for making it happen.