PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A VERY OLD TUTORIAL. THIS POST WAS WRITTEN IN DECEMBER 2010. It has not been updated except with some images many years back.

(Also, how to return an ebook to Overdrive before the lending period is done. This post has been been moved from an old site of mine, where it was written in December of 2010. I’ve updated it with images of OverDrive’s new look. Additionally, if you have a newer model Nook with app capability, check out OverDrive’s Nook app. This tutorial is for people using older models or who don’t want to install the app.)

[Kindle has put together instructions for borrowing library books here. I now have a Kindle as well as my Nook and find them very easy to use.]

One of the biggest reasons I got my Nook was because of its compatibility with Overdrive, the ebook database to which my library subscribed. It’s very easy to borrow a book and put it on your Nook, but it’s not intuitive and there aren’t many good non-video tutorials out there, so I’m making this one. I’ll demonstrate by checking out Club Dead from my library’s Overdrive system, transferring it to my Nook, and returning it. Click on almost any image to see a full-size version pop up (a few were small enough to fit in the post space).

Step 0. Install Adobe Digital Editions

To begin, you’ll need to download and install Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) on your computer. Overdrive uses Adobe Digital Editions to handle its digital rights management. You should also create a free account, as prompted, so you can authorize your Nook (or other computers) to read the books as well.

A commenter adds: When you create the Adobe account, you must do so with the same e-mail address and the same password as on your Nook, which is I think also always the same as your Barnes and Noble account. They report that if you use a different e-mail (and perhaps also password, though I use different passwords for my ADE & B&N accounts), you may have trouble authorizing your books.

Step 1. Check out your book on Overdrive

Use whatever process is necessary to sign in on your library’s Overdrive website. Mine simply asks for my library barcode. You can search for ebooks without being signed in, but being signed in makes the process faster after you’ve decided which book you want. Once you’ve found the book you want to check out, click “Borrow.” The amount of time for which you’re borrowing it will be set in your Settings area. Your library system will probably give you several options.

A screenshot of the Club Dead entry in OverDrive with the blue Borrow button.

This will take you to your BookShelf. In your Bookshelf, you will probably have the option of selecting the format when you click Download:

A screenshot of selecting the EPUB eBook option from the Download menu in your Bookshelf

Step 2. Download and Open in Adobe Digital Editions

On your Bookshelf, click the download link to download a file which Adobe Digital Editions will use to download the actual ebook (when you select & confirm the format, it should automatically open a download prompt as well). You can save the file to your computer, but since this isn’t the actual ebook and you won’t need it later, you can also just choose to open with Adobe Digital Editions.

A screen shot of the dialog prompt to Download ADE file

Adobe Digital Editions will download the actual ebook and open it on your computer.

Adobe Digital Editions opens the book on your computer

Click on the Library icon (where the red arrow is pointing in the screengrab above) to return to the library view. This is where you’ll transfer the book to your nook. Your library will either display as a list of titles or as images, depending which option you toggle on the upper right-hand side.

Step 3. Transfer the ebook to your Nook

If your Nook isn’t yet connected to your computer, use the USB cable to connect it and turn it on. It should appear in your Adobe Digital Editions library page as shown below:

Viewing your ADE library. The Nook's position is highlighted

A commenter notes that if you plug in and turn on your Nook and it doesn’t show up in ADE, simply exit and reopen ADE. Before reopening ADE, double check that your Nook is on and is displaying the USB connection screen. If you’re not seeing it and see regular Nook screens instead, you’ve ejected your Nook and you’ll need to unplug and replug it in. Another commenter notes that the Nook Color may show up as “Media” rather than as “Nook” in ADE.

Now, click on the book you want to transfer to your Nook and drag it to your Nook icon as shown below:

Screen shot of clicking and dragging the book to your Nook in the ADE Library menu

If you click on the Nook icon, it should show up as being in your Nook’s library as well. Once you get the hang of it it’s quite straightforward. Check out, download, drag and drop, and voila you’re reading your library book on your Nook!

Step 4. Return the ebook from your Nook and computer

Your library book will expire after the lending period is over and you won’t be able to access it on your Nook any more. But if you want to return the ebook before the lending period is over, either so that you can check out more or just because you want other people to have access to the ebook, you can also return it just like you would a regular book.

Returning it easy in Adobe Digital Editions, but it has to be done from both your Nook and your computer.

First, plug in your Nook and turn it on. Click the icon in Adobe Digital Editions to view your Nook’s ebook library. Click on the little arrow in the upper-left-hand corner of the title image and select “Return Borrowed Item”:

Screenshot of return your Overdrive book using a little arrow in the upper left-hand corner of the title image and selecting Return Borrowed Item

Once the book disappears, click on the “All Items” bookshelf in Adobe Digital Editions, find the book, and repeat the returning process. If you go to your library’s website and visit Overdrive, your book should no longer be on your bookshelf either. If it is, go back to Adobe Digital Editions and check any of its bookshelves for copies of your book.

Note: If you have a lot of books on your Nook or in your ADE, you may find it useful to sort by date added to find the book in the list and return it. To do this, simply click the words “Date Added” at the top of the column, and the books will re-order by when they were added. They may first order from oldest to newest, so click a second time if needed to re-order from newest to oldest.


Here are some helpful troubleshooting suggestions as provided by commenters. I haven’t tried or tested all of them and therefore can’t endorse all of them, but I thought I’d pull them out of the comments section and organize them.

1. Is Your Nook Turned On?

Ok, this wasn’t a commenter one, but it’s something I periodically forget when plugging my Nook into my computer. If you want to manage the books on it, you have to turn it on when you connect the USB. Unlike a thumb drive, it doesn’t automatically power up.

2. How to Finish a Book That Needs to be Returned

You can’t (and shouldn’t) keep a library book forever, but if you’re not quite done with a book, then you can do the following to finish it:

Do not close the ebook to look at another book or adjust a setting. Change your Nook to be on airplane mode so that you don’t drain the battery as fast (and because this may cause it to turn off the library book like rebooting it would). Rather than powering off your Nook, only let it sleep. Do not hook the Nook up to the computer or otherwise charge it.

According to one commenter, this will keep the book from expiring. Of course, you’ll eventually have to charge it, but if you’re lucky you should be able to get it done before you’re done reading. A better idea is to always check out your Nook ebooks for 21 days, since you can return it if you finish early. And do return if you’re done early because it’s kinder to everyone.

3. If You Can See the Book in Your Nook’s File System But Not When You Turn On the Nook

One commenter noted that she could see that the book had been added to her Nook when she checked the Nook’s folder system (should show up in My Computer like a USB does) but it wasn’t showing up on her Nook. She said that she had to move it from the Adobe Digital Editions folder into the My Documents folder. A simple cut-paste should work. I haven’t tried this method, but I also haven’t yet run into this problem.

4. If Adobe Digital Editions Won’t Prompt to Authenticate

One commenter said that they weren’t getting the prompt to authenticate their Adobe Digital Editions. This apparently turned out to be because there was already an Adobe Digital Editions folder on the Nook from a failed attempt to authenticate. They deleted it, opened ADE, plugged in the Nook again, and it prompted them to authenticate. Everything went smoothly from there.

5. If you’re getting the “User Not Activated” Message

Try looking at your Nook’s folders via My Computer / Nook and look for the one titled .adobe digital editions (probably has a period in front of it). If you don’t see it, click “View” and opt to see hidden files (Google should have answers on this) just in case. If it’s there, try deleting it and then do the transfer again. Whatever login you set up on your computer’s ADE will be the same one you use on your Nook when it asks for authorization. If you haven’t set up a login on your computer yet, do that, then make sure you delete any folders titled .adobe digital editions, then try the transfer again.


I’m not a representative of Overdrive, Adobe, the Nook, or your library system, so I can’t help with error messages or tell you why a particular book won’t check out or what’s wrong with your Nook. But if you have a clarifying question about this tutorial or a suggestion for me to add something to clarify it, please ask in the comments and I’ll do my best!

If you’re a librarian or serve in a similar capacity, feel free to use any images or instructions from this post for your library. I release all copyright for this particular post because I think it’s important for patrons to have.

…comments were closed on the old site’s entry, but I’m going to try opening them up here again. These instructions are using an older Nook, not a Nook Color, etc. It may be slightly different for those, although the principle is about the same.

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  1. Hi,
    Great tutorial , thanks. I was just wondering if you have come across the following ? On my local library’s website in my account I set the loan period to 21 days (the maximum). But after I downloaded a book into ADE it marked it as “2 weeks” in the yellow strap in the top corner of each file in the ADE library. Just to check I reset my loan period to 14 days and downloaded another book into ADE and it marked it as “1 week”. Do you know why this might be and which loan period setting will take precedence – the one marked in ADE or the one marked on my library website settings ?
    Thanks , Stu.

  2. Thank you so much! I have succeeded in transferring library books onto my Nook at last! I bought the Nook for that purpose and had been helplessly frustrated when I found I could download books onto the Nook but they would not open because the format was ‘not supported. The secret is in ADE! Thanks again

  3. I keep getting an Error Dialog – User not activated box show up when I try and enter the book from my nook. It won’t allow me to read the book

  4. I drag the ebook to my nook on the ADE program but when I eject my nook the book doesn’t show up. Any tips or thoughts on this?

  5. I have downloaded the ADE program to my computer, set up an adobe account & borrowed a library ebook. My nook shows up in the ADE program but when I try to drag & drop the book to it, it tells me I am not authorized to read books on more than one device. I then try to authorize my nook by clicking on the little settings menu next to where it says “nook” in the ADE, I enter my adobe login & password (which are the same as my B&N account on the nook) and it tells me the authorization failed. I have followed all the possible troubleshooting tips mentioned here and nothing is working. Any thoughts?? Because frankly I a beginning to wish I had bought another Sony ereader right about now. It was so simple to use.

  6. I am trying to download a library ebook on my nook simple touch. I went through all the steps and my laptop says it’s downloaded. But I can not find the book on my nook.

  7. I followed the steps above, but Adobe Digital Editions 2.0 doesn’t display my Nook. It has a different view than your screenshot of ADE above. I only have the option of creating a new bookshelf, but that doesn’t help me. Any ideas?

    • Nevermind! I just needed a little patience and more forum browsing. I had to restart ADE and then unplug/replug my nook from my computer. Finicky technology 🙂

  8. I had a library book and was reading it. It disapeared from my nook…now I can’t find it. I went back to the library, it says the book is out. That’s true…I have it. But I don’t know where.

  9. Victoria Scarborough

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial. Everything worked on my Nook Simple Touch except I am getting an Error Dialog message that says “User not activated.” I have the same password for both Adobe and B&N and the books transferred seemingly successfully to the Nook. They show up in my library under digital files but when I try to open them, I get this message. Any ideas what I should do?

  10. Hey, this really is a good tutorial and it seems to easy when I look at it but I’m so frustrated with my nook right now! I already had a Adobe reader sign in on my old laptop that broke and on my new computer it said I had to create a whole new ID which if I have to have the same on both I will have to mess up my whole nook! It won’t let me read my library book, keeps saying the user not activated thing but I don’t want to erase all my books and change my nook account. What do I do?

  11. I have returned library books but the icons are still on my screen. How do I get rid of those icons of the returned books?

      • If you have the Glowlight, when you connect your Nook to the computer you will want to click the “Open Folder to View Files” that comes up. This will bring up the Nook. Double click the Digital Editions folder and you should get a list of all of the books that you transferred to the Nook using Digital Editions. You can highlight the individual books and delete them. This will take them off of your Nook.

  12. HI
    I keep getting this message when I try to download the book: because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged.
    can you direct me as to what I need to do.

  13. hi Id like to download ebooks from the gutenberg,org site for reading on a nook I got for Christmas…will you tell me how?..thanks…gerald

  14. HI, it says i don’t have the authority or permission to copy to my nook…why would I download from my library to read on my computer? this sucks

  15. gerald blizzard

    ok heres what I found out…if you have windowsxp your os wont recognize the nook…forget it..sorry charlie..but wait theres can go online with your nook and download the books directly..just cant use calibre for that and I thought it sounded pretty good…I could buy vista for about 120 dollars but I will probably have to buy a computer before too long anyway so I will wait on that…have a great day

    • My daughter has Windows XP on her desktop computer. When I was visiting I downloaded Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), installed it on her machine and was able to download e-library books to ADE and transfer to my Nook with no problems.

    • If you have a tablet which allows you to install the Overdrive App, you can check out books from your library within the app (which will display a browser) and download them in-app. That’s what I meant by directly. Re: Gerald, I don’t believe he was talking about library books.

  16. Thanks for the tutorial. I just want to clarify something. The nook is registered in my daughters name and we have been unsuccessful in trying to borrow an ebook from our library, even though we have authorized our computer and our nook. Because it is registered to my daughter, do you think this is the reason we are unable to transfer the book we have selected to our nook? We have contacted B& N, our library and no one can solve our problem, yet no one has asked if our account on the nook or password is the same as the one registered to the account. Your comments would be appreciated.

  17. I know this has been asked…but I don’t see the answer.
    I drag the ebook to my nook on the ADE program but when I eject my nook the book doesn’t show up. Any tips or thoughts on this?

  18. Had to reset my nook to factory settings and now i can no longer download ebooks from my library. It will only let me read in browser. If i click kon dowload ebook. I get an error message “cannot open file”.
    Would appreciate any help.thanks

  19. Rhona Arthur

    Really useful tutorial, especially as B&N’s guide ie a 404 Error (if it ever worked?). You probably saved at least one device from being hurled through an open window and a couple of hours of life has been gifted. Thanks

  20. Adobe Digital Reader by itself will not work with the HD Nooks, but you still need to install & authorize Adobe reader in your Nook with the same info that you used on your computer, before installing Overdrive or Overdrive won’t work. If you have a problem with Adobe, deauthorize both the computer and the Nook and start over. Don’t even try to fix it or call B & N. If you already have an Adobe password for their website or some other Adobe program you need to use the same one. Don’t use your Nook password. Then install Overdrive from B & N app store. It’s very cumbersome even then to get Overdrive set up (their help files are terrible)but once you do you can go directly to the library and download a e-pub formatted book & Overdrive will soon remember how to download correctly. Put a shortcut on the home page for overdrive and it will take you either directly to the book or to its own “library list” on the Nook if you have read something else in between. Even with Google Play news and magazine apps there are problems using them on Nook. I WOULD NEVER BUY A NOOK AGAIN FOR ThESE REASONs. Zinio reader is the easiest to set up. You’ll might get a message during install that it isn’t supported by Nooks, but it will work (just without some digital bells and whistles)

    • Linda Ferguson

      I couldn’t agree enough. I have had a nook for over a year and have never managed to read a book on it. Nothing works nothing shows up. I’ve given up and just continue going to the library. Shame.

  21. THANK YOU SO MUCH ! It’s amazing how difficult it is to get straight answers about this. Shame on B&N for being so obtuse. I spent days trying to download library books (there was a LOT of cursing involved, I’ll admit) until I wandered onto this page. Thank you again for helping people you’ll never meet. I hope someone provides you with directions when you need them some day! 😉

  22. Oh thank you for this tutorial. !! Tried to download library ebooks about a year ago, didn’t work. Tried again today, viola – had to delete the old adobe file; that info was at the end of the tutorial in trouble shooting. Worked like a charm.

  23. suddenly my computer seems unaware that my nook is plugged in. I do hear the sound that I thought indicated a good connection, but the option to eject my nook isn’t there, nor am I able to move books I’ve downloaded from overdrive onto my nook. I never had this problem before.

  24. I keep trying to open an ebook on my nook, but it says it has been returned and there is no loan on record. I have the book on ADE and transferred it to my nook, yet when I eject my nook and try to open the e-book it gives me that message. I even borrowed another version of the book and the same thing happens. I haven’t returned the book.

  25. I am trying to download epub books from Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) to my Nook – an dI want to scream! I download the books to my computer, then into ADE, where I can read them. But when I try to move them from ADE to my Nook Library, I get an error message “Loan not on Record.” This happened before and I spent a couple hours a day trying every possible folder on my Nook, until finally something worked. Unfortunately, I don’t know what it was I did to get it to work and now I’d like to download another book but cannot.

    Arrrgggghhhh. Does anyone know what is going wrong? As an aside, the books have not expired from my library. Thanks!

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  27. Since i used my email to install ADE to my oldcomputer, ADE will not let me load it on my new computer – it says the email address has been used. What can I do now?

  28. I love downloading library books to my Nook via my laptop. However when we travel, it would be a lot easier to just carry my IPad. Is there a way to do download to my IPad and then to my Nook?

  29. So I was able to download the app on my nook and not need the computer at all to borrow books from the library using the ade app. however I can not find anywhere to return them using the app before the due date. I am a fast reader and don’t want to wait the extra days. yet everything I find tells me to download all the same stuff on my computer and go thru so many extra steps that I do not need or want. is there not a way to return the books from the nook ? without connecting to the computer ?

  30. I am trying to download a library book. I can do that with success. But when I open the book, I only see chapters. Not pages. How on earth am I to read a book? EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED!!!

  31. Do you have to purchase any type of Adobe? or should this be free? I can’t find “my library” anywhere. Please help

  32. I put a library book on my Nook but it said the book had been returned, loan not on record.

    I thought maybe I’d checked out that book before and it had old info, but I just checked out a new book – never had it before – and it immediately said the same thing. ADE says the book has 21 days, the Nook says it’s already returned. ADE did succeed in putting in on my Nook, but why is the thing not passing the expiration date correctly?

  33. After 3 years trouble free with my Nook Simple Touch Glowlight in downloading books from my local library, my problems started when I recently updated Adobe Digital Editions from 3.0 to 4.5.1. which is apparently recommended. My local librarian managed to download a library book for me, but I have not been able to do it myself since, despite making notes of the procedure and following them to the letter! Just booked another session with him! Good job he’s a patient guy! Really fed up!

    • Im having the same issue!! I have gone to B&N, library, looked for answers here… nothing works. I have also deactivated computer and Nook to reauthorize to no avail. I want my Nook to work. The whole reason I bought the damn thing was so I didn’t have to read it outside in the sun on my iPad! I hope there is a solution.

  34. Mary Lou Fitzpatrick

    Question please. I have been reading library books for years. Now I am out of space. The books still appear in my library, but don’t open because they have been returned. It doesn’t seem I can archive them. Can I clean out the whole mess or should I get the micro SD memory card?

  35. I have been transferring books from the library for years on my nook glow lite and now all the sudden since the NY public
    library upgraded their overdrive system, I can’t get the book on my Nook, it transfers over just the cover and says
    page 1 of 1. Even the cover is just a blank white page with the title in it , but not the real book cover. I have tried with a couple different books and the same thing.
    The library told me to go in and delete all the copies of the book from not only my nook but in my files/documents/nook etc to make sure it did not exist anywhere on my computer and it doesn’t, but it still does the same thing. I love reading on my nook glow lite, its
    old but it worked like a charm till just when they updated the library system.


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