For us voracious readers, any place is a good place to check back in with our latest read: on the bus, in line at the coffee shop, maybe even during those lulls in conversation with our friends. And for those of us who find physical books sometimes burdensome to carry around (A Game of Thrones is 835 pages!), e-readers are a must-have. But did you know that you can check out digital titles for your e-reader or phone from your local public library?
OverDrive is a free app which, through access to your local library’s collection, allows you to check out and download digital copies of their works. The downloaded file will self-delete when the borrowing period has expired; no physical return is needed, so no late fees will be incurred!
The vast menu of options has featured collections (such as Award-Winning Young Adult Titles), but can also be browsed by genre or searched by keyword. The app allows you to place titles that interest you into a wish list for later, which is convenient for titles that are not immediately available, though you can also place those titles on hold and secure yourself a place on the waitlist.
- The app is compatible with Kindle software, so many OverDrive titles can be downloaded directly into your Kindle account, and be read on a Kindle, the Kindle Cloud Reader, or a Kindle app on any device. However, you don’t need to use Kindle technology to enjoy OverDrive: the app comes with its own reader interface.
- If you download a title to a Kindle app, the app also syncs across your different devices. The Kindle cloud ensures that you will be able to access the title on whatever device you are using—it will even find the last page you read! (The OverDrive app does not sync across devices, but most titles can be downloaded more than once, and to more than one device.)
- OverDrive makes accessible tons of audio content, including audio books, comedy and drama performances, and foreign language learning exercises. The app has a listening interface built into it on which to play your audio downloads. Many titles can also be transferred to mp3 players and some can even be burned to CD, though the digital rights vary from work to work.
- The interface can be a little fussy on a very small screen (e.g. a smartphone). It might be more worth your while to load your account up with books on a computer, and then pull the books from your account into your phone and tinier devices.
- Popular titles can have long waitlists. (Silver lining: if the title you know you want is not available, you can browse the collection and find something you didn’t know you wanted!)
- A compatible device. The app is available on iPhones and iPads, Androids, Windows phones, the Chromebook, Kindle Fires, Nooks, and, of course, your computer.
- A user account with Carnegie Public Library. If you already have a CPL account, find their OverDrive page here. Click here if you would like to open an account.
- Your hometown library may also participate with OverDrive. Check the full list of participating libraries here.