Downloading Magazines with VIRL and Zinio


Zinio is a service that allows you to download magazines to your computer or mobile device.

The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) subscribes to Zinio and has a collection of magazines that you can access for free, just like the magazines you'd find in a VIRL branch.

Downloading free library magazines through Zinio does take a bit of set up (in part because Zinio would rather sell you magazines) but it isn't too difficult, especially if you follow along with this guide. On a laptop or desktop computer there is no extra software to download; you read the magazines right in your browser (there is an app you need to read on a tablet or smartphone, but we'll deal with that later.

The first time you try to download a VIRL Zinio magazine you will have to create two accounts. This is true if you're going to be reading magazines on your computer or on your phone or a tablet. We'll cover the account creation process on this page, so just keep reading. If you have already set up your accounts and just want a refresher on downloading magazines check Read a Magazine on a Desktop/Laptop or Read a Magazine on a Tablet/Phone.

If you'd like to watch a video we have one taking you through the account creation process below. It's about 4 minutes long and covers the same content as the text and images version you'll find below it.

Set Up VIRL Zinio Accounts

Our starting point is the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) home page You will need to be connected to the internet and it'll be useful to have your library card handy to set up your accounts.

Finding the VIRL Zinio collection

The magazines you can download freely through Zinio with your VIRL card can be found at You can also get there from anywhere on our VIRL website by following these steps:

  1. Move your mouse over the Using the Library in the blue header bar. In the menu that appears, go all the way to the right under eLibrary and click on Apps and Mobility. (You can also click this link to open a new tab/window and go directly to the page now.)

  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen where you will find a section called Zinio. Click where it says Click here on how to sign up for Zinio and you will get to the VIRL Zinio Magazine Collection.

Setting up your account through the VIRL Zinio Magazine Collection

The very first time you come to the VIRL Zinio page it should look something like this:

The easiest way to get your accounts set up to download a magazine is to try downloading a magazine, so let's do that.

  1. From the VIRL Zinio collection you can search for a magazine you'd like to download using the Title Search bar.

    You can also find a type of magazine by clicking the All Genres dropdown list.

  2. When you find a magazine you'd like to read, click on Checkout Now below its cover image.

  3. A small box will appear. Since this is our first time signing out a VIRL Zinio magazine click Create New Account in the box.

  4. Type in your library barcode where it says Card number: (this is the long number on the back of your library card; type it in without spaces)

  5. Fill in your First Name, Last Name, Email, create a new Password and Confirm Password then click the blue button that says Create Account.

    Your password must be at least 7 characters long and have both letters and numbers. We recommend you use a different password from any of your sensitive, high-value accounts (eg. banking).

    Note: If you already use Zinio to purchase magazines, you should be sure to use the same email address for the account we're creating here that you already use for Zinio.

  6. Once your account has been created the window will show you the cover of your magazine. To finish our first-time setup click the blue Start Reading button.

    This will take you to the Zinio account setup page in a new tab/window.

Setting up your Zinio account

The first time you try to download and start reading a magazine, the page that opens up should look something like this (with your magazine cover of course):

Now we'll set up the second account you need for downloading magazines through Zinio.

Note: If you already use Zinio to purchase magazines, you can click sign in here and use that account instead.

  1. Fill in your First Name, Last Name, Email Address, create a new Password and Confirm Password then click the blue button that says Register.
  2. It's important that you use the same email address for creating this Zinio account that you used in the previous account, otherwise they will not be linked properly.

  3. Your accounts have been created and you should now be looking at your reading list. Congratulations!

Desktop/Laptop Setup Complete

If you want to read your Zinio magazines on your desktop/laptop computer, you are done. Click on the cover of the magazine in your reading list and it will open in a new browser window.

If you want to read your magazines on a tablet or phone, you have to set up the Zinio app on your device for reading. Instructions for that are in our Set Up a Tablet/Phone for Zinio guide.

If you want to see how downloading a magazine works when it isn't your first time doing it, check out our Read a Magazine on a Desktop/Laptop guide.

Questions? Run into an issue we didn't cover? Contact us at or let us know by Facebook or Twitter.