Since I knew that there would be plenty of relaxing time and definitely lots of time on airplanes I downloaded a bunch of books from the Public Library. It was GREAT! I think that most public libraries have a Virtual Library where you can check out books and download them to a Kindle, iPad or even your computer. At my library there is a huge collection of text and audio books. On my iPad I have a free Kindle app. It compares pretty well to reading books directly on a Kindle. I have compared the two and the Kindle does really have clear text, but in general I don't notice a difference.
First of all, you have to have a library card. They are free for anyone. You just go to the library and show them something that proves you are a resident. I think that even an energy bill with your name and address on it works. You might want to check with your library first though.
Next you need to go to their website and create a web account. I have been using Dashlane to keep track of my passwords and it is great for the library account. For my library I have to put in my library card number as the username and it is about 10 digits. It is nice to have it automatically filled in by Dashlane.
Now just go to the Virtual library and look for a book you want. When you find one click "Borrow". If you want it in Kindle form it takes you to Amazon where I click on Check out the book now and it appears on my iPad! Just like the physical library and physical books there is a date when the book is due, but unlike physical books where you can forget to get them back and incur a fine, the book just disappears from your device. You can renew books if you know that you will not finish them by the due date.
I checked out 4 books and finished 3.5!
Each time I have checked out a book I learn more about how this works. At times it can be confusing, but I have found it worthwhile!