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eReading Room

eNYPL for Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch


Update 2/15/11: OverDrive Media Console Version 2.2 now adds native iPad support.

Update 12/7/2010: Good news Apple fans, OverDrive Media Console now adds support for eBooks. Same app, if you already have it, just be sure to update to the newest version. You might have to restart your device for it to recognize your checked out items the first time. While the app also works on iPads, it is not full screen. iPad users may want to continue to use the Bluefire Reader app but just a reminder neither we at NYPL nor OverDrive officially support this third-party product. Happy reading!

Overdrive, NYPL's digital media vendor (, is coming out with an iOS app for both ebooks and audiobooks soon.  At the moment, if you're an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch owner you can download and listen to Overdrive audiobooks using the Overdrive Media Console (available from the iTunes Store.) You can browse our site in Mobile Safari, check out .mp3 audiobook files, and simply click the Download button to launch the special player.

In the meantime, Bluefire Reader is a new app that may fill in that (simply agonizing!) gap for some users until an Overdrive ebook reader is available. It is a free download in the iTunes Store. It allows you to open .acsm key files and authenticate with your Adobe ID and password, in much the same way you already do if you use Adobe Digital Editions on your computer. Here are the steps you can take to get eNYPL books onto your Apple device.

  1. Download Bluefire onto your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
  2. Back on a computer, visit and find the PDF or EPUB formatted ebook of your choosing. Once you find a title you wish to download, click Add to eList on the right side of the entry. You have 30 minutes to complete your checkout before the ebook is returned to the library’s collection.
  3. When you are done adding books to your virtual pile, click on My eList and then Proceed to Checkout.
  4. If you are not already logged in, enter your library card number and PIN.
  5. You may check out up to 12 items from eNYPL at one time. After choosing your lending period, click Confirm Checkout, and then Download.
  6. A dialog box will appear, prompting you to open or save the file. Choose Save. This is the license for the ebook, which is stored on a content server, and not the ebook itself.
  7. If you don't already have an Adobe ID (if this is your first time downloading library ebooks then you might not) go ahead and sign up for one. It is the means by which DRM limitations on your use are set on the file.

At this point you have a few options for getting the file onto your device. You will need Adobe Digital Editions installed on your computer to do the first two. You should be able to do the last three with just the .acsm key. PLEASE NOTE: None of these instructions are for the faint of heart, and are not guaranteed to work perfectly on the first try; if you can wait for an Overdrive solution it may be a lot simpler!

  • Wireless transfer: Open the .acsm file using Adobe Digital Editions on your computer and take note of the location of the saved PDF or EPUB file (by default your-home-directory/Documents/Digital Editions in OSX and your-home-directory/Documents/My Digital Editions in Windows.) If your computer and device are on the same local wireless network, navigate to bluefirereader://nav/transfer in your mobile browser. This will launch Bluefire, give you an address to type in to your computer and the credentials with which to log in to the device and upload your PDF or EPUB file.
  • With iTunes: As detailed in the Bluefire help section, you can open the file on your computer using Adobe Digital Editions and launch iTunes, and then navigate to the File Sharing area under the Apps manager. Click Add... to browse to and select the PDF or EPUB file. Now hit Sync. You should then be able to disconnect and see the file on your device. Keep in mind that the Adobe ID must be the same as the one used to open the file initially. You will need to be connected to the Internet so that Bluefire can verify this.
  • Email: email the .acsm file to yourself as detailed in this Library Journal post, which will allow you to launch the file in Bluefire.
  • Cloud storage: You can use the free Dropbox app to store and transfer the files between your computer and Apple device.
  • Bookmarklet: If you're feeling extra ambitious you can set up a bookmarklet for a seamless Overdrive to Bluefire experience.

I used the Dropbox method with an iPad and wireless transfer with a first generation iPod Touch (it was the only way we could get it to work). EPUBs seem to be a lot better both in terms of ease of transfer and the ability to format the text once you're ready to read.  Your mileage may vary!

Have you tried this new app? What do you think? Is this new development (free library ebooks on iPad!) going to change your holiday ereader gift plans?


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

I can't say how many times I

I can't say how many times I check my nypl account details on the browser of my iPhone. I would love an app that allows users to check all of their holds, due dates, etc. straight from their phone! Is this something that's in development?

Iphone app for holds and due dates

JL, not yet, but there is a third party developer that has an iPhone app for multiple library systems It works with NYPL. The iPhone app is not free (and I have not tried it) but the OSX one is. It is a menubar application that you can set up to integrate with your calendar, and could then sync due dates back to the calendar on your iPhone.
Hello, I wrote an iPhone app called booksdueNYC that creates calendar events based on your outstanding NYPL library items. You simply enter your barcode and pin and login into your account. You can program the calendar event alarms to go off the day before the library items are due or on the day they're due. booksdueNYC is available for purchase from the iTunes store for $1.99. Requires OS4.0 or greater. See this link: DVD fines are $3 per item, per day! I don't know how many times I have stood in line behind people who are complaining about owing $12-$20 on DVD fines. This experience gave me the impetus to create an app to help people avoid accruing fines on their library items. Regards, Larry Object Oriented Style, LLC More information on booksdueNYC is here:,_LLC/booksdueNYC.html


I used the iTunes method with iPhone and it worked perfectly! As much as I like eInk, I love that I can read in the dark on my iPhone. I was using a headlamp with Nook for a while, but eInk just wasn't worth my partner's mocking about the apparently unfashionable headlamp.


Hi Lauren, I am currently interning at BPL and have been working over the semester on figuring out the ebook/ereader's in the library question. We have a digital catalog also, and unfortunately I had tons of issues trying to get content onto my iOS devices through Overdrive. I discovered the Bluefire Reader last week and have been touting its usefulness since. We're planning on putting up a guide for our patrons also, and your step by step is really helpful. I tried the iTunes method, and it was just about as easy as adding music to an iDevice. Needless to say, the Bluefire App could make a real difference for folks who might be getting into ebooks this coming holiday season, and would like to continue to support their local library. Thanks again! Micah Vandegrift

Love Bluefire

Ive been reading snooks from Brooklyn Public Library with Bluefire on my iPad and it's fab!

Download on nook or other e-readers?

I've not been clear on where, except for computers or the devices listed above, the e-books can be downloaded. Where would I find that out?

Nook and other ereaders

See the full list of compatible EPUB and PDF readers here: (See <a href=""></a> for other types of devices: audio and mobipocket) We also have prepared some <a href="">Quick Start guides</a> if you want a step by step walkthrough for getting ebooks on the Nook and other devices.

Using my iPad

I would love to see some instructional workshops in the branches. I love my iPad, would love to use it more effectively, but could barely follow the directions for downloading apps. OK, some honesty here. I have no idea what people were talking about.

iPad transfer Gotcha

For those of you who are getting the error "the security plug-in required by this command is unavailable", you have to be connected to the internet in order for Bluefire to verify your Adobe Id (and anything else that needs security verification). I followed the directions verbatim and got the above message because I didn't turn the wifi on my iPad on. Once I did so, I was able to open the ebook. Hope this helps. As a general rule, which I'd recommend be added to the above instructions, make sure your iDevice is connected to the interwebs while you do the transfer.

Thanks Steve! Will update to

Thanks Steve! Will update to include that piece of information.

Transfer method

Oh, just for more clarification. I was using iTunes to copy the book to my iPad. Obviously if you're transferring via email, Dropbox or browser, you're already connected to the internet.

Ebooks website

Hi, I am unable to open the website on my iPad. Is anyone else having this problem?

Works for me... do you get an

Works for me... do you get an error message?

I have never been so

I have never been so frustrated as with NYPL app for ebooks. I have tried to download a book, but of course it can't be done. Someone finally told me about Overdrive so I'm trying to get the book through there, but NYPL is telling them that I've already got it checked out!!! So can I "return" it through the NYPL site? OF COURSE NOT!!!! There's not button or tab to return or check out or any of the normal things you associate with libraries. I'm ready to give up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The updated app does not work

the new app I downloaded on my Iphone this week does not work properly. It will not retain the sign in information and will not display books checked out properly. Is this being addressed?

Problem using site on ipad

I've been notified that a book on hold is now available, but the site's far right column is not visible on mobile and I know that is where I need to click to download the book. So it appears that the site update won't allow downloads from the web to mobile devices and now I'll have to download to my desk/laptop and send to my device. Not a good user experience :( Also just downloaded the NYPL open books app but it doesn't recognize my library card number or pin, but also doesn't give me the option to register anew. Not good.

Hi Kathy, we know about that

Hi Kathy, we know about that and are working to fix. If you are looking right now in portrait mode [-] you might be able to switch to landscape mode [----] to see the download button. Sorry again.

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