Read ebooks using BorrowBox on a Kobo Clara HD

In these strange times our fantastic public libraries are closed and so I had no access to my usual light reading. So, I ordered a Kobo Clara HD online. The Kobo itself is very easy to set up – turn it on and follow the screens. During set up, you will be asked to put in a password, make sure to write this down somewhere. At this stage, you will also connect to your wifi so the code to access this will be needed. It is a powered by an inbuilt battery that can be charged via the USB cable supplied. The ebooks cannot be downloaded directly to the Kobo Clara – an intermediate machine must be used, either a Linux, Mac or PC computer.

Borrowing using BorrowBox

The steps are: 1) sign up to a public library; 2) install Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) on your computer, part of which is signing up for an Adobe ID (or, just simply a login!); 3) download ebook from BorrowBox to your computer and transfer it across to your Kobo device; 4) optionally, install Kobo Desktop on your computer if you want to use the Kobo bookstore. It’s a little fiddly but it works.

1) Here in Ireland, the public libraries use the BorrowBox platform. To use this, first sign up for library membership either at your own library or during COVID-19 at Libraries Ireland site.

At the website there are apps that can be used for iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire. None of these can be used with my Kobo Clara. What I did was get out my Windows laptop, install Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) (and Kobo Desktop). Both of these are free. It is helpful before doing so to read the User Guide on your Kobo (under Help on your device or online): this gives some tips on how to set up ADE. You might also like to watch a YouTube video about how to do this – here’s one from Wexford County Library that’s useful.

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2) When you are installing ADE on your computer, you will be asked to set up an ‘Adobe ID’. Again make sure you record your placename and password somewhere again.

3) When you’re ready to get an ebook, go to wherever your library has the BorrowBox portal. Browse the ebooks to see what you’d like. Not all ebooks are available as some may be borrowed (just like physical books). These can also be reserved. Find an ebook that you can borrow – click the button to ‘borrow’. You will be asked to login (if you haven’t already) and then to download the file to your computer. This file will download to your computer (depending on your set up it may be stored in the Downloads folder), with file name ‘URLLink.acsm’ (or ‘URLLink’ if your settings have the file extensions turned off). Now start up ADE (and optionally then Kobo Desktop if you’re using it). Copy or drag URLLink.acsm file to ADE, the book will download and appear in the list of books in ADE.

Next, attach your Kobo to your computer using the cable supplied with it. On the Kobo, a window will pop up – press ‘Connect’. On my Windows 10 machine, a message pops up that there’s a problem with the device – ignore this. The Kobo should appear on the left-hand side of the ADE screen. Drag the ebook cover onto the Kobo device. Wait for it to be transferred, etc. When that is done, either eject from your Windows computer as usual (or, if you have Kobo Desktop installed, eject the device from there (eject icon on top right-hand side of screen).)

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On your Kobo, go to My Books and your ebook will appear.

4) Optionally, install Kobo Desktop on your PC, if you’d like to. I’m not using this software which can be used to access the Kobo bookstore.

Returning an ebook

1) Optionally, remove book from your Kobo. This is a good idea as after it is returned, you can’t read it anyway and there’s no point in filling up the Kobo with clutter even if it has a fairly large flash drive onboard.

2) While online, open ADE, (in Windows) right-click on book cover, a menu pops up, click on Return Borrowed Item. This tells BorrowBox that you’ve returned the book and also deletes it from ADE (but not from the computer).

On my PC, the digital files are stored by ADE at C:\Users\myusername\Documents\My Digital Editions. Every so often it might be worth deleting returned ebooks as they can no longer be read and so are redundant anyway. The average ebook size is about 1 MB. Be careful not to delete ebooks that you own, however.


Charging the Kobo

If you are only charging your Kobo on your computer and not transferring books to it – then click on ‘Cancel’ on Kobo screen when asked. This means that the device will not show up in ADE or in File Explorer and so doesn’t have to be ejected after charging. A little white light turns on the on/off button while charging. When charging is finished, the light turns off.

I hope this helps. Enjoy your reading!