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How To Get Free Digital Magazines From Your Library


RBdigital is the gateway to free digital magazines in your library.

RBdigital / Screenshot by Rick Broida / CNET

Public libraries are so great. (Thank you, Ben Franklin!) They allow you to borrow not only physical books, but also digital content like eBooks, audiobooks and – surprise, surprise! – digital journals.

That’s right: Many libraries have partnered with RBdigital (formerly Zinio for Libraries) to offer electronic zines that you can browse and read on a variety of devices. I was already a huge fan of doing this on my iPad, so I’m delighted that my local library here in the Detroit subway has this awesome option.

It’s also a surprisingly generous offer: for most titles, you have access not only to the latest issue, but back issues as well. There is usually no limit on the number of magazines you can “check”, and they do not expire after a certain period of time like e-books in the library. In other words, you can keep them as long as your account is active.

It’s especially exciting in light of Apple’s recent announcement News Plus subscription service, which for $ 10 per month gives you access to over 300 magazines. Not only is RBdigital free, it is also compatible with Android and Amazon Fire devices. ($ 39 on eBay) tablets.

Here’s how to get started with RBdigital, starting with what you’ll need to read.

Dust off your library card

First, visit your local library’s website (through your desktop browser) to see if there is any mention of RBdigital. If so, you will need your library card number and password to go through the registration process, which should be accessible through this site. The process usually involves setting up an account with RBdigital, the service that handles magazine loans for libraries.

With that done, check your inbox for an RBdigital activation email and click on the link to verify your account.

Finally, you should look at the catalog of magazines available, the size of which may vary from library to library. Mine, for example, has about 300 titles, like Apple News Plus, which is interesting. There aren’t all the magazines I want, but it’s a good mix overall.

If you see something you want to read just click on the cover and then blue Check button. Pro tip: after clicking this button, check the box marked Automatically order the next issue. Presto! You now have a “subscription” to this magazine.

Consider the material


Reading magazines on a phone – like Reader’s Digest, shown here – isn’t that great thanks to RBdigital’s text mode. Fortunately, it is not all text.

RBdigital / Screenshot by Rick Broida / CNET

Next, determine where and how you want to use your digital magazines. In my opinion, the best bet is a full size tablet, that is, a tablet with a screen of at least 8 inches. I used an iPad Mini ($ 389 on eBay), which is pretty good, as long as it has a Retina display, but a full-size iPad or Amazon Fire HD 10 ($ 68 at Amazon) is better. A 12.9-inch iPad Pro ($ 930 at Amazon)? Best option by far.

Ultimately, you want something with the highest resolution and the biggest screen you can get – at least if you plan to consume magazines in their native format (i.e. PDF files of the actual magazine pages). Fortunately, the RBdigital app offers a text view for many, if not most, titles, and it’s a pretty good implementation.

Indeed, reading a scanned magazine on a smartphone (or a smaller tablet) involves a lot of scrolling and zooming, which is far from ideal. But with a single tap, the RBdigital app will switch you to text mode, giving you a larger print, in your choice of sizes, nicely formatted for smaller screens. And it’s not just plain text either; photos are also mixed.

This mode works best for longer stories, however. On pages with a lot of small blurb, the app doesn’t always delineate them well. I have also noticed that the magazines are slow to download. On a Fire HD 10 and iPad, I usually wait a minute or two for an issue to load. It is also an extremely slow application in other ways, such as when you switch between PDF view and text view.

Get the apps

RBdigital applications are available for Fire, Android and ios. Once installed, launch it and then log into the RBdigital account you just created. All the magazines you have ever read should be waiting for you. Alternatively, you can press the Menu button then Magazines to explore the collection and choose the titles to consult.

RBdigital might not be perfect, but if you love magazines and want to read them for free, well, it’s time to renew that library card.

Read more: I did the math, and News Plus is actually a pretty good deal.

Originally published November 15, 2016.
Update, April 4, 2019: Add new information.

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8 empowering female-led posts you should read


It may seem surprising that in the age of digital domination, the DIY fanzine scene is flourishing and that a large number of female editors are leading the way.

Whether it’s making the voices of Mancunian girls heard or giving women of color a safe space, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite independent female-led posts (from the most established to those whose travels come from). to start), all born out of a desire to fill the gaps in the fashion industry.

Boldly rejecting the mainstream and rewriting the rules of publishing, they together prove that print is far from dead, while ensuring a brighter coffee table or less gloomy subway journey.


AZEEMA is the annual print magazine, platform and community that explore, challenge and confront issues surrounding representation and diversity.

The London-based publication, founded by Jameela Elfaki, aspires to provide women of color, especially women in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, a safe space and platform to have their voices heard, which celebrate culture and different religions.

AZEEMA boldly tackles topics such as identity, mental health and sexuality.

And the name? ‘Azeema’ is an Arabic word meaning determination, determination and strength.

Quite appropriate for such a sublime post that fills a loophole that has been gaping for too long.


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Since its launch in 2014, Polyester has become one of the most important in the zine scene.

Founded by Ione Gamble, the intersectional publication of feminist fashion and culture aims to connect URL cyberfeminism with our IRL world, and its kitschy DIY-minded pages encourage the reader to “trust their own bad taste.”

This year, Polyester diversified into the world of audio communication with the launch of its own Podcast, exploring everything between creative freedom and sexual health.

In other words, the perfect listening for a Monday subway trip.


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Ladybeard is the biannual feminist publication whose mission is to make its readers feel good about themselves.

Behind the brains is a team of six women determined to open conversations about topics they find distorted or ignored by the media – namely sex.

In addition to promoting non-established artists, Ladybeard acts as a playground to explore borderless sexuality and identity (the cover of their ‘Beauty’ issue was a photograph of a literal asshole).


Frustrated by the lack of representation in the art world, Yellowzine was born out of a desire to put the work of BAME artists and creatives in the UK in the spotlight.

Founded in 2017 by brothers and sisters Oreoluwa and Aisha Ayoade, each issue focuses on different artistic disciplines while celebrating and promoting underrepresented artists from the Afro / Caribbean and Asian diaspora.

Taking inspiration from the good old yellow book (those were the days!), The London-based track serves as a repertoire for ethnic minority artists in the UK.


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After seeing how his hometown has turned more and more into a macho-chester, Becky burgum founded the annual print publication Galchester to challenge and counter the city’s masculine identity, and celebrate what she likes to call, ‘the real worker bees of Manchester’.

By putting the city’s creative women center stage, Becky hopes to inspire and encourage a new generation of Mancunian girls to take up the arts and be as confident as their male counterparts.

Galchester will soon relaunch its social networks and website, and Hattie James-Weed as art director of number 2, so keep your eyes peeled.


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Founded in 2012 by Beccy Hill, Sister is a biannual independent feminist magazine built on the premise that all issues are women’s issues.

By providing a platform for these to be discussed and heard, the magazine hopes to fuel the fire needed to bring about real change.

The 10th issue, The question of survivors, has just been launched and is full of truly fabulous feminist readings.


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BRICKS is the self-published intersectional feminist magazine that explores fashion and art from a socio-political perspective, while providing emerging designers with a platform to showcase their work.

Independently founded and managed by Welsh people Tori West, Bricks’ colorful pastel pages raise the voices of marginalized communities and praise the unconventional.

In April, the publication celebrates its 5th anniversary with an unmissable special edition full of surprises (have you ever heard of cake-sitting?) – in pre-order here now.


The pages of Fresh magazine offer visual delight, a diverse representation of creatives, and a fresh perspective on the creative industry.

Born out of frustration with the lack of diversity in the arts, the founding quartet of Manchester-based graphic designers aspires to create an inclusive and diverse creative community while promoting and celebrating BAME artists.

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14 independent women’s magazines that should be on your reading list


But we also know, deep down, that a lot of these things are quite damaging to women’s sense of confidence and to the broader fight for gender equality.

But what is the alternative? Well, the good news is that there are a lot of them. In this article, we’ve teamed up with Coconut – the current account of freelancers and freelancers – to offer you a nice selection of independent women’s magazines that do things a little differently.

Gal-dem is an online and annual print magazine founded by Liv Little in 2015, who, frustrated by the lack of diversity at the University of Bristol, wanted to reach out to women of color like her. Topics covered include the arts, lifestyle, music, news and politics. Gal-dem also hosts events, including comedy nights, political panels, film festivals, bi-monthly gal-dem sugar club parties, and museum takeovers.

The Gentlewoman is a biannual magazine and website celebrating “modern women of style and determination” and offers a new and intelligent perspective on fashion that focuses on personal style – the way women look, think and look. dress in real life. Cover stars include Cindy Sherman, Allison Janney, Sophia Coppola, Zadie Smith, Kirsten Dunst and Saoirse Ronan.

Mary Review is a news and ideas magazine written and produced entirely by women. Its first issue was published in the fall of 2016, with the aim of bringing greater parity to the journalistic conversation. Topics for previous articles have included the poise of black women, the intimate beauty of watching people handle food, and how spouses of workers in the United States on H-1B visas find themselves trapped at home.

Gal-dem magazine

Based in Leeds and Manchester and reporting in five major cities, NRTH LASS is a print magazine passionate about the charm of northern English. The focus is on successful women and they aim to empower and inspire women in business, start-ups, art, literature, parenting, travel and leisure.

Founded in Tokyo in 2016 by Yuki Haze and Erika Bowes, Sukeban Magazine is an online platform that encourages and supports budding designers in the fashion industry. Their motivation was the lack of diversity (beyond the symbolic) in the industry and the fact that photographers, stylists, models, artists and other aspiring creatives find it difficult to make themselves known without a strong presence on the networks. social.

LYRA is a quarterly print magazine offering a feminine perspective on society, politics and the arts. Articles include journalistic investigations, philosophical essays, erotic stories, poetry, photography, fiction, and think pieces. It aims to encourage thoughtful dialogues and critical perspectives while showcasing the voices of young artists and writers.

Womankind is a print magazine and website published by Poet Press, which also publishes New Philosopher magazine. Ad-free feminine magazine focused on self, identity and meaning in today’s society, Womankind features leading journalists, authors and artists and covers culture, creativity, philosophy, nature and ways to live a more fulfilling life.

The nice woman

The nice woman

Girls Like Us is an independent print magazine for and by women that mixes politics and fun and aims to chart collaborative paths towards non-patriarchy. Comments and opinions on the arts, culture and activism are shared through personal stories, essays and visuals.

Launched in 2012, Ladybeard magazine is a feminist publication that takes the form and format of a glossy magazine but revolutionizes its content. “The mainstream media has created a culture of self-hatred,” they say. “It’s also quite boring. We grew up selling each other stories about purity, femininity and perfect happiness; now we want to tell new ones.

Created by Megan Conery and Molly Taylor, Hotdog is a poetry magazine dedicated to the work of women and non-binary people. He refuses to accept either the generalization that poetry is “inaccessible” or the distinction between low-browser and high-brow culture, and blurs the space between creativity and consumption, asking readers to rethink their view of literature. contemporary.

Riposte is a high-quality, award-winning independent print magazine for women. Each issue features interviews with “Bold and Fascinating Women,” who cover both their successes and failures with frankness and honesty. Essays and features cover a wide range of issues, including art, design, music, business, innovation, politics, food and travel.

Oh pretty

Oh pretty

First published in 2013, OOMK Zine is a biannual publication on women, art and activism that focuses on imagination, creativity and spirituality. Each issue revolves around a different creative theme; Number 6, for example, explores food as “art, enemy, friend and refuge”. This content is well integrated with more general content exploring topics of faith, activism and identity.

Oh Comely is a bimonthly independent magazine, made in London, which focuses on new writing, photography and illustration. There is a light and playful theme to their articles, on topics such as “Pom poms and protest”, “The pleasures of hiding” and “Self-love, surrealism and friendships forever”.

Based in New York and LA, Hannah is a biannual magazine and website that celebrates black women. “Hannah is a place where we are neither asked nor asked to justify our existence, our presence or our humanity,” they say. “It’s more of a space where you can just BE. A space where everyone is invited to take a seat at the family dinner table, as long as they respect the house rules. Topics covered include ethnomusicology, a fashion photoshoot in Lagos, and the ups and downs of travel and motherhood.

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