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Overdrive, Libraries, and Ebooks

I’ll admit it: I was behind the curve on this one. I’d heard that some libraries lent ebooks but that it was awkward, difficult and poorly executed. So I didn’t investigate further. Turns out I should have done. Library ebook lending has come a long way thanks to a service called Overdrive.

Overdrive is an ereading app that links into your local library’s ebook catalogue. The app is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. It’s possible to load borrowed ebooks onto ereaders too, but you have to use Adobe Editions which is, apparently, still awkward, difficult and poorly executed. So I would say Overdrive is really targeting phones and tablets.

So far I’ve enjoyed the Overdrive experience. I can browse my library’s ebook catalogue, borrow items and return them all within the app. The reading and listening experience is decent; it lacks a few flairs such as page turn animations and annotations, but it gets the job done.

My one gripe so far is renewals. It took me far too long to figure that out and involved rummaging around a menu on the library website. Even after I’d successfully renewed, I still had to download the book again. If I can return a book with a simple tap within the Overdrive app, why not renewals too? And why not leave the content on the device?

However one thing I did love was the little counter over every borrowed item showing how long you had left. This little countdown seems to act like a great motivator to read before you lose the book; I steamed through The Girl on the Train in a matter of days! This also means there are no late returns and no fines; the content is simply deleted once your time is up.

Overall, if you want to borrow ebooks from your local library, using a phone or a tablet, Overdrive seems like a pretty good solution. It’s a shame it’s painful to get them onto an ereader, but since I’m not paying for the ebook it seems wrong to complain too much. So I’m pretty sold on Overdrive! But what do you think? Leave a comment about your experiences with Overdrive (or any other way you’ve borrowed ebooks from libraries). I’d love to hear your opinion.

P.S. The Fey Man is now available from Norfolk Libraries ebook catalogue, so why not borrow it for free! Not in Norfolk? Just ask your local library to order it from Overdrive. I’ve set the price for libraries to free, so it shouldn’t cost them a penny!

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