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It seems like most of the news we hear about libraries lately is discouraging, with usage declining and funding being denied. Most people’s first assumption would be that it’s an expected consequence of how people use technology. As e-books and apps that let people obtain them in seconds spread, public libraries fall by the wayside as a way to access media. Right?

Not quite! It’s actually more likely than you think that you can do all of those things—check out e-books, audiobooks, graphic novels, and other media⁠—not by giving more of your money to Amazon for a subscription, but by using your library card, a public service that your taxes are already paying for, to sign into the many apps that public libraries themselves use. You get a wealth of information and entertainment, and library use statistics go up. If you haven’t checked whether you can sign in to these services with your local library card, this is your reminder to do so.

People are trying to get the word out about free library apps

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Maybe you’ve heard tips for using apps like Audible “like a library”—that is, returning audiobooks for a refund. But authors who list their books with the service aren’t a fan of people using it that way, as some have complained after reporting being fined by Audible for user returns. If you already use the app and you’re worried about returns, bigger publishers aren’t likely to notice if they’re hit by these fees, but think twice before you return indie authors’ releases.

An author shared why trying to play Audible isn’t a good idea

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Instead, try using all of these free apps that are the real deal

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If you get embarrassed when people ask you when was the last time you read a book, and your New Year’s resolution is to change that, don’t let lack of time or money stop you. Studies once found that while at least 90% of libraries in the US offered e-book lending, over a third of respondents either didn’t know whether their local library did, or thought that it didn’t. We hope that statistic is going down, because librarians’ dedication to giving everyone free access to information certainly isn’t any time soon!

Commenters gave their reviews of library apps, and other tips

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A year ago, Apple acquired the digital newsstand app Texture to form the basis of its new subscription-based service, Apple News+, which launched on Monday. As some have expected, the standalone Texture app will soon shut down as a result. According to emails sent to current Texture subscribers pointing to a FAQ on the company’s website, Texture’s last day of service will be May 28, 2019. Existing customers will be offered a one-month free trial to Apple News+ to make the jump.

A closure like this was bound to come. It doesn’t make sense for Apple to continue to operate both Texture and Apple News.

But not everyone is thrilled about this change, of course.

Specifically, Android users and other subscribers without any Apple devices will now no longer have a way to access Texture, they’ve realized. That means they’ll lose access to the service entirely when it closes down in May (unless they buy a Mac or iOS device.)

These customers were early adopters of subscription-based news reading. Many have had their Texture accounts for years. And it’s clear that most were holding out hope that Apple would launch a web or Android version of Apple News, or at least continue to operate Texture until such a thing was ready.

It wouldn’t have been entirely unprecedented for Apple to go this route.

Apple today runs an Apple Music Android app, for example, and offers an Android app for its Beats Pill speakers. It also provides desktop software to non-Mac users with iTunes for Windows, for example. And with the launch of Apple TV+, the company is seemingly embracing non-Apple platforms by rolling out an Apple TV app to Vizio, Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.

It’s also a bit surprising that Texture’s existing customers aren’t being offered a better incentive to switch to Apple News+, as a way to reward their loyalty or to make up for the frustrations around having to switch apps — especially since their favorites and collections will not transition to the Apple News app. Instead, the Texture email says they’ll be offered a “one month free trial” to test out the service. That’s the same deal all new Apple News+ subscribers get.

After the first month, the subscription will auto-renew at $9.99 per month.

Apple News+, however, does deliver more value than Texture, in terms of content selection.

Instead of only offering access to hundreds of magazines for one low subscription price, Apple News+ subscribers can also read articles from a handful of newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Toronto Star, as well as online publications like theSkimm, The Highlight by Vox, New York Magazine’s site Vulture, The Cut and Grub Street. TechCrunch’s own subscription product, Extra Crunch, is also participating in Apple News+.

It’s also available for the Mac for the first time.

That doesn’t help non-Apple customers, though.

Those losing access to Texture as a result of Apple’s decision to make Apple News+ an Apple device-only service do at least have something of an alternative with Scribd. Its subscription service offers unlimited access to audiobooks, e-books and magazines for $8.99/month, or can be bundled with The NYT for $12.99/month. However, it doesn’t have the same range of magazines as Texture, so switchers may lose access to several of their favorite titles.

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