OverDrive Media!

March 9, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Audio Treat, Book Services | 13 Comments

Once again I’m probably the last person to stumble across something everyone else already knows about.  Anyway, I figure if I rave about my library’s digital audio book service and you’re already using it, you can rave with me.

I bought my first iPod last fall – my parrot chewed up my husband’s headphones, so I took the opportunity to get my own and swap earbuds with him.  I was also listening to a lot of audio books on this sad old CD player I bought at Goodwill for $15.  A coworker kept telling me about all the great books he was downloading for free, and finally I thought I would check it out.

It turns out that my local library offers OverDrive Media, and so does the San Francisco library!  The two libraries have different collections, so I have a Wish List on both.  Technically I could check out five books at a time from each, but who can listen to so many?  You can choose either a 7-day, 14-day, or 21-day checkout period, depending on your library, though the book will stay on your device until you remove it.  I go for the shortest period I can because I can go through an 8-hour book in two days, and I once found myself stuck with no books and a three-day wait before I could check out any more.

Okay, it’s actually fairly complicated.  You have to find out if your library offers digital audio, then you have to download the software, then you have to download the books, and worst of all, you have to figure out how to delete the books once you’re done listening.  They do take up quite a bit of room.

The good news is, comparatively few patrons must be using this service, because there’s a much faster turn-around on hot new books.  For instance, right now I’m downloading Last Night in Twisted River, and if I’d waited to read it, I would have been #94 on the holds list.  Also, as we all know, library audio CDs are perpetually scratched and damaged, while the digital audio is clear.  An iPod will also hold your place between listens – some audio CDs only have chapter breaks every 10 minutes.

Downloading books is pretty quick, but transferring them to the iPod takes about 90 minutes for an 8-hour book.  A 24-hour book like Bridge of Sighs, which is currently on my player, took over 5 hours – but you can do it track by track.  It’s best to set up while you’re doing other things on the computer so it can run in the background.

How to Delete OverDrive Media Audiobooks from your iPod:

I had a heck of a time figuring out how to delete the books once I’d read them, because they wouldn’t show up under Audiobooks in my iTunes.  I’m going to spell out the instructions here for anyone else who has had (or will have) similar problems.  Synch your iPod and click on your device in the pane on the left.  Then look on the Summary tab under Options and check the box for “Manually manage music and videos.”  Click the arrow next to the name of your device back in the pane on the left, and a little menu will appear, including an option for Audiobooks.  You can delete your audiobooks track by track.  Pretty simple, but amazing how not-obvious it is and how many confusing dead ends come up in a Google search!

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