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Tuesday, October 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County libraries lets cardholders flip through digital magazine rack

A Flipster page is seen. (Nina Culver / The Spokesman-Review)
A Flipster page is seen. (Nina Culver / The Spokesman-Review)

There are a lot of interesting magazines out there, but subscribing to several of them at once is a cost-prohibitive prospect for many. But people living in the Spokane County Library District can now access 95 magazines for free through a recently added online service called Flipster.

All people need to do is visit the library district website,, click on the “digital library” link and enter their library card number to access Flipster.

The magazines can be searched by key word, subject or title and a simple click will download the entire magazine. From there it’s a matter of scrolling through the pages or clicking on links to individual stories on the table of contents page.

“It’s really easy in terms of jumping around,” said communication specialist Erin Dodge. “All the imagery is really crisp and clear and bright. I like the simplicity of it.”

There’s a little bit of everything among the available titles, including Sports Illustrated, Field & Stream, Outside, Oprah Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, People, GQ and Country Living.

“The coolest thing is what it offers,” Dodge said. “It has stuff for kids.”

Reading a digital magazine also has benefits for older readers, who can zoom out the text until it’s as large as they want.

Once a library user downloads a magazine, it can be accessed repeatedly in an area called “My Shelf.” Some magazines have time limits.

“Some of them do and some of them don’t,” Dodge said. “It varies by magazine.”

A magazine may only be available on My Shelf for a week or two or it may stay there for weeks. A magazine can always be downloaded a second time if the reader chooses, Dodge said.

Other titles available on Flipster include Family Tree, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Backpacker. There are magazines on science and technology as well as plenty for those who enjoy gardening, cooking and cars. The library district selected the titles based on what people have asked for or checked out, Dodge said.

“Customers come and they request materials all the time,” she said.

The library district used to use another online magazine service, but switched to Flipster in January.

“I think they were excited about all the titles,” she said. “A lot of people are into backpacking and running and there’s magazines for that. A lot of people are into cooking and there’s magazines for that.”

Dodge said Flipster is so new there really hasn’t been any feedback.

“We haven’t heard a lot yet either way,” she said. “I think we’re still getting the word out.”

While access to Flipster is available through the library district’s website, there’s also an app people can download. So many people have iPads and Kindles now that it’s easy to use the app, Dodge said.

Dodge has spent some time browsing Flipster and downloaded a recent copy of Woman’s Day for a smoothie recipe she saw on the cover. She said she’ll likely be seeking out other new recipes as well.

“I can see myself in the kitchen with my tablet,” she said. “It’s almost addictive. You just keep looking at stuff.”

And it’s not just current issues that are available through Flipster. Back issues are also available for many of the titles, some dating back several years.

If people want to use Flipster but aren’t sure how to go about it, they can fill out a “book a librarian” request on the district’s website under the “Get Help” link. A librarian will meet with the member to walk them through the process, Dodge said.

“That’s with anything,” she said. “That’s a good thing for folks who are uncertain about technology.”

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