Full disclosure: My original plan was to do a “3 best places to find free e-books, music, and movies” column wherein I found for you three different but excellent sites.
Then I discovered that one excellent site in particular stood out as having the best overall mix of everything. So, I figured that instead of sending you to the far corners of the internet for all your free content needs, I could just direct you a single convenient destination instead.
You and I are both busy people, so let’s get straight to it, shall we?
That’s the site: Hoopla. What’s the catch? There are three.
First, you’ll need a library card. That part is not all that hard. Second, your library must be a Hoopla partner. That doesn’t seem super hard, either. I live in a smallish town, and our library works with Hoopla.
You can check this map to see if your library is on board. Do that before you create an account.
As you can see from the map, there are a lot of libraries on board.
And finally, the third catch—and it’s a fair one—is that Hoopla acts like a library, meaning that you’re “borrowing” content for a set number of days. Unlike a real library, however, you don’t need to worry about returning the stuff you’ve borrowed on time. It’ll expire on its own, and won’t be accessible to you unless you re-borrow it.
It depends on the publisher, but most movies and TV shows are available for three days. Most music is available for seven days. Most books—including audiobooks, e-books, and comics—are available for 21 days.
Now, your local library will also decide how many items you can borrow at a time. Mine has a limit of 10.
Your library will also decide whether it’ll allow for renewals. If it does, you’ll get a message 24 hours before your content is due back asking if you want to borrow it again.
How’s the content?
Is this the same as subscribing to Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Peacock, and HBO Max all at once? No, it is not. However, neither is Hoopla just a repository for old public-domain books and underperforming independent films. There’s real content here.
To get a sense of what’s available, check out these pages for popular movies, popular shows, popular music, and popular e-books.
So, there’s a little something for everyone and plenty to binge. You’ve got the Encanto soundtrack, the Harry Potter series, Hot in Cleveland with the late, great Betty White, and of course the excellent coming-of-age hit 13 Going On 30. There are plenty of duds, too, but free is free.
Perhaps the best part, especially if you’re keen to watch movies and TV, is that Hoopla has apps for Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV, and Roku. There are apps for iPhone and Android as well.