The Best Thing Ever

I’ve mentioned before that I like to listen to books on my iPod.

My mode has been to get books on CD from the library, load them on to iTunes and then upload them to my iPod (people always ask if that’s legal – rest assured that I delete them when I’m done). This is a pretty good system, but it can be a little time intensive, what with the importing one CD at a time and then also trying to remember if you were on track A1 or A11 or C28b (hello, 21st century problems, lovely to see you).

Happily, I have found a new option (not that the CD method will be tossed out on its backside entirely). My library system used Overdrive Media, where there are hundreds of titles available for download straight onto your iPod. And these are legitimately awesome books too – new ones, YA ones, award winning ones, classics, children’s books. It takes a fraction of the downloading time that manually importing CDs does and they go into the “Audiobook” section of your iPod which means that it bookmarks where you are in the book and you can return straight to it without searching after listening to something else (or, in my case, switching between two books).

I know what you’re thinking. “Well, yes, Janssen, it’s all well and good for YOU, since you clearly have the best library ever at your fingertips. But my library is the size of a postage stamp and is made out of discarded beer cans.” Think again. I’m willing to bet you have access to such a system as well.

My friend Julie called a few weeks ago to ask about my audiobook listening and I asked her to tell me the name of her library. While she told me how tiny it was, I googled it and within seconds had discovered that her library had the same feature. With more titles, I noticed jealously.

The Provo library in Utah and the one I went to in Texas both use another version called “NetLibrary.” Same basic idea. My parents’ library system uses the same one I do (Overdrive Media).

The titles are checked out for only 2-3 weeks at a time, and only one person can have a book out at any one given moment, so you may have to place a request for it and wait for it to come in, but with so many titles, I never have trouble finding SOMETHING I want to listen to. And they are adding titles constantly.

Also, these are very fine recordings, the same as the ones you would get on an audio CD, not read by someone who doesn’t actually read very well but is willing to do it for free.

I am rather addicted to browsing the website now, patrolling for new titles, putting items on hold, and listening to my currently checked-out titles as I fold the laundry or vacuum.

Check out your library and see if it offers this service (search for Overdrive Media Libraries by state here) I’ll put money on 90% of your libraries doing just that (only a penny, though, because I am cheap).

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  1. You lose your own bet…Our library doesn't use overdrive. j/k It use to use NetLibrary, but due to cut of funds it isn't doing anything now. It was a nice thought though. The other problem is that my husband takes my itouch with him to school every day and doesn't come home until 10 p.m. most nights. I should get him his own.

  2. Well, for the longest time Overdrive didn't have any ipod compatible books. That was my main problem with it. Even now, I am less than excited with their selection. Meh. However, it is good to know that at least the option is now out there.

  3. Yay, my library has it! Maybe if I download something onto my iPod I'll actually start back up at the gym again.

    Two things that made me chuckle while browsing: 1) there's a section for graphic novels – um, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose? 2) one my my library's most popular books is James Earl Jones Reads the Bible – love it!

  4. How do you "return" an audiobook that's on your ipod? Does the software make you delete it or automatically delete it when the book is due? Technology! Crazy.

  5. We do have this – you can listen to them on your computer or your IPOD but I'm not really a fan of books on cd, so I never do it. What I do think is awesome at our library is E books – they go straight onto your computer and you can read them on your laptop for three weeks, but I really wish we had more of those – unfortunately there aren't too many so far.

  6. Nope, none within 100 miles. Rats. Well, not really since I don't have any such device as an "ianything". LOL Unless this works on an mp3 player?

  7. I clicked on your handy link and sure enough my library does use overdrive! Now I have to get myself an iPod!!

  8. Although, I too am confused about how you "return" it… do they just trust you to delete it when you're done, or does the file have a time limit/expiration (if such a thing is even possible)?

  9. We have Overdrive in Phoenix too and it's great except that I have an MP3 player instead of an IPod, so my choices are extremely limited. You're supposed to be able to burn some to CD, but I haven't gotten any to play in my car (I tried it before a road trip).

  10. Ours uses overdrive which is great, except that I don't have an mp3 player. I know, I'm still livingin the stone age. Every once in a while I will "borrow" my husband's mp3 player that he won from work and listen to books on it. Thanks for the reminder about overdrive!

  11. Um, as a librarian I am ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Overdrive (had used NetLibrary before). And my home library does have it! Thanks for this! That's awesome!

  12. Our library has a similar system and also these neat gadgets called PlayAway. The book is already loaded into the device and you check it out like you would any other book. You need to provide your own AAA battery and headphones, but otherwise, it's like having the book already loaded on its own iPod-type device.

  13. Ooooh neat. Except i don't get it how it works. I have to go to the library? I'm confused.

    Thanks for the tip tho!

  14. Orem has Overdrive AND Netlibrary. I think I like Netlibrary a little bit better—the checkout is easier and you don't have to put stuff on hold—but either option really is cool to have!

    (one day I will have an iPod, maybe…but the files do work on MP3s, too!)

  15. Once again-a great tip for your readers. I've been using overdrive for about a month and it totally rocks. I find myself cleaning the house (or even cooking!) just so I can listen to a great book. My current audio read: The Eight by Katherine Neville. One I would highly recommend.

  16. Janssen – thank you, again. I downloaded an audiobook onto my computer. The only bad thing is that our system only allows us to keep the "book" for 21 hours and the book is almost 8 hours long! Crazy.

  17. Hi Janssen,
    I'm new to your blog and was lucky enough to find it by accident. 🙂

    I've been wanting to put audiobooks on my iTouch for quite awhile but I always get stuck. I can download them onto my computer but then I can't get them from my computer to my iTouch. Very frustrating b/c there are so many titles to choose from! Unfortunately the ladies at our wee local library are not well versed in electronic books. I'll keep on tryin' to figure it out though.
    Laurie (aka

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