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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  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!!! Talk about not intuitive!

    • Hey, wow, this post has already helped one person. My work here on this planet is done!

  2. Isn’t OverDrive amazing? I use it exclusively for eBooks (audiobooks aren’t exactly my thing), but the gist is the same – freedom, ease and it’s especially convenient because I’m not always in close proximity to my “local” libraries…

    • I only recently found out they have e-books as well. My local library carries only the audio books. The San Francisco library has music and videos, too.

  3. Thank you so much! I have been searching for months on how to do this! Free audio books from our libraries is such a wonderful service, but I was getting worried I would have to stop since I couldn’t remove books from my Ipod. Thanks again!

  4. Eureka! I thought I was stuck with these books on my ipod forever!

  5. Thanks so much for explaining this. I was getting so frustrated trying to delete the old books.

  6. Can you believe this post has had 182 hits already? I guess more people were having trouble with it than I had anticipated!

  7. Oh my gosh – THANK YOU for posting this. As you can imagine, I’ve been sitting here for about an hour googling this very thing to no avail. Everything else says ‘manage it in iTunes’ but I didn’t SEE it anywhere. My daughter is addicted to audio books and she really enjoys them but I don’t want to keep them after our ‘loan’ is expired.

    • So glad I could help!

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! After spending hours searching online, visiting site after site all to no avail finally I found your post. You have no idea how much you have helped all us library audiobook users. I nominate you for sainthood 🙂

  9. CD Players are nice but today we have DVD players and Blu-ray players that are even nicer -`~

  10. Overdrive is run by a lawyer who negotiates rights. User experience is Terrible both with regards to integration with our library system (Toronto) and their software, which still doesn’t include an iPad version!? Yes it’s a great idea to offer this service but Overdrive’s execution has been poor. Unfortunately they seem to be the major (only?) player.

    They need to realize they are in the software business and invest heavily in designing a better user experience.

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