Title: OverDrive Media Console App
Written By: Overdrive
Publication Info: OverDrive, Inc.
Libraries are awesome. Like a lot of readers, I could talk about libraries and their awesomeness for hours. I could even tell you how a librarian caught the guy who stole my husband’s wallet; in fact, I will at the end of this review because it’s my review and I’mma do what I want.
One thing about libraries that is slightly less than awesome is how difficult it can be to check out their e-books. This isn’t the fault of the library; platforms like NOOK have a convoluted process for downloading e-pub books from sources other than Barnes and Noble.
I read e-books pretty much exclusively, and I use a NOOK. That means in order to download a library book I have to first download to book to Adobe Digital Editions on my computer, then plug my NOOK into the USB and sideload the book. When I upgraded to a NOOK HD I discovered there were additional steps involved as ADE doesn’t recognize the NOOK HD or HD+. There’s often a lot of swearing involved in this process. Try to explain it to a less than tech savvy person, like my mother-in-law, and you can see her eyes glaze over in terror. My understanding is that it’s easier to do on a Kindle because it goes through the Amazon website, but I’m not a Kindle user so I can’t verify.
Then I discovered the OverDrive Media Console App. It should be called the Magic Sparkle Library Book App of Joy because it’s flippin’ amazing. It allows the reader to download eBooks and audio books from the library directly onto their reading device with the same ease as buying them from the shop.
Now, the app will only allow you to borrow books from a library that uses OverDrive Media to manage their digital content. Over 22,000 libraries in the US use OverDrive including major metropolitan libraries like New York and Atlanta. I browsed through the list and it seemed fairly extensive; most of the libraries in my home state are part of a consortium that uses this service, and as a member of one, I can borrow from all the others.
The app is free in the Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Android and iTunes stores. Once I downloaded it I saved it to my home screen and opened it up. It prompted me to search for and select my library. Once I’d selected and added my library, I could browse their digital collection.
Searching for e-books and audio books is very easy; you can search by title, author, etc., or you can browse by format or genre. There are filters that allow you to browse by subgenre or by titles with available copies only. It took me only a few minutes borrow a few eBooks and place holds for a few more.
Once you select a title to borrow or hold you’ll be prompted to enter your library card and pin number. You can select the format of the e-book you want to borrow (e-pub or Kindle) and then download. If you are borrowing an audio book it downloads as a MP3 file. The app defaults to the shortest lending period available (in my case, seven days), but you can change it in settings.
Once e-books are downloaded you can go to your bookshelf to read them. The OverDrive app allows you to jump from the bookshelf to the library and back again through a menu button the uppermost right-hand corner. The books can only be read via the app—they don’t show up in your NOOK library. An icon next to each title tells you how long you have left on your loan. Clicking on a plus sign next to each title gives you the option to return the book early or just delete it from your device.
The book opens in the OverDrive reader. It’s fairly intuitive. Several icons on the top of the reader allow you to adjust brightness, color, font, etc. You can bookmark your page, flip to the table of contents or share comments on the book via email, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads. My only complaint is that you cannot highlight or make notes. You also can't look up words the way you can the NOOK reader.
My husband used the app to download audiobooks to his iPod. The audiobook opens in the app, not in iTunes. You can bookmark your place in the audiobook (something iTunes does not allow you to do), share comments on the book via email, Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook, and set a timer so the playback shuts off automatically after 15, 30, 60 or 90 minutes. I personally liked the audio player in the app better than iTunes or the one for Audible; it seemed easier to use and had more functionality.
Once your lending period is up you will no longer be able to open the title on your bookshelf, and it will offer you the option of deleting the cover icon from the shelf. You must be connected to WiFi to search the library and download books, but not to read or listen to the books once downloaded. That means if you're traveling you can quick grab a library book using airport WiFi and then read or listen on the plane with no issues. The whole seach and download process takes only a few minutes if you know what you want to read.
The OverDrive Media Console app is available for NOOK, Kobo, Sony Reader Wi-Fi, Kindle, and Adobe Digital Edition eBook readers. It’s also available for Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Windows Phone mobile applications. The OverDrive Media app site also contains helpful FAQs for using the app as well as several how-to videos.
So now for the totally unrelated story of librarian awesomeness.
Years ago someone stole my husband’s wallet. He immediately canceled his credit and debit cards, went through the hassle of getting a new driver’s license, and also replaced his library card. The thief got away with some cash, and we figured that was the end of it.
Then a few weeks later he got a call from the police letting him know that they had caught the guy. It turns out he’d taken my husband’s library card and tried to check out several DVDs (presumably with no intention of returning them). The librarian saw that the card had been stolen and told the thief that they were holding several new DVDs for him in back, and then asked him to wait.
Clearly a MENSA candidate, the thief did just that. She went into the backroom and called the police, then stalled the guy till they arrived and arrested him. They found my husband’s other stolen cards and him and BAM! he was sent back to the pokey. I’m still totally impressed by the quick thinking on the part of that librarian. I bet she was all like “You’re not gonna mess with my DVD collection, no sir!”
In conclusion, I love my local library because they 1. give me free books to read and 2. fight crime. If, like me, you prefer digital books to paper copy, check out the OverDrive Media Console app because it is all kinds of wonderful.