Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Just For Fun: Overdrive

I am always on the lookout for a good deal.  If there is a coupon code or free trial to be had, I will not stop until I get my gnome-like hands on it.  I always want a deal.  Even if I am getting a deal, I want a better deal.  Blame my Dutch heritage or my competitive personality all you want, I just want to get the most bang for my buck.

It's this dogged pursuit of a good deal that has given form to my antipathy for Audible.  Anyone who has watched a YouTube video in the past two years has certainly been bombarded by Audible-sponsored content offering *new* subscribers a free audio book to test out the service.  The catch to this promise of a "free audio book" is that you are signed up for Audible membership which can cost a minimum of $14.95 and you're only guaranteed one audio book a month.

Let me tell you about a cheaper, easier alternative to Audible available from many public libraries: Overdrive.  Overdrive is a website and app that allows users to download audio books and eBooks for free using your lending privileges from your local library.  To sign up for an account you just need a library card in good standing and an email address.

You can download a temporary file to phone, tablet, or eReader and enjoy your digital text for the entirety of the lending period (7-21 days depending on your library and the item).  In the event you want to access your digital checkouts and cannot access your mobile device, you can listen or read your materials directly from your web browser (a Godsend if you're at work . . . believe me!)

If an item you are interested in is checked out, you can put an electronic hold on the item and you will be notified when your item is available for download on the app.  Similarly, if you're "not feelin' it" with a title, you can return the item early.

The number of items you are allowed to download from Overdrive at one time will depend on your library.  For instance, in my county, we are allowed to checkout three items in any combination of formats at a time; in others, like Multnomah County ('sup Portlanders!), allows you to have ten digital checkouts from Overdrive at once.

The one drawback to using Overdrive, in addition to their being a limited time frame to read your book, is the selection.  While there are hundreds of thousands of titles available from the service, that is no guarantee that the book you would like to read is available.  If, however, you are the type of reader who likes to discover new titles by browsing you'll probably get the most out of the service.

Seriously, why pay for Audible when Overdrive allows you free access to hundreds of thousands of titles in a number of formats and on most of your devices?

Have you tried Overdrive?  How many checkouts are you allowed?  Tell me on Twitter @thelexicondev .

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