Overdrive Android App

One of the big complaints about electronic media is the lack of support of library systems.  Because libraries lend at no cost and an electronic copy is the same as an original copy, many media (whether music, video or print) have been reluctant to give lending rights.  One of the few players in the electronic library world is OverDrive.  Over the past year they have really expanded their software to allow for much more and much better access.  I reviewed the iPhone app last year.

I thought the iPhone software was ok, but I was using it on an iPad and there was not native iPad app.  Since that original review an iPad app was released.  In addition, you can now check out ebooks, not just audiobooks.  So the iPad can be a fairly basic reader that allows library checkout of books.  The iPad reader is basic, but usable.

For audiobooks, I really prefer using my phone because it is the device that I am more likely to have with me all the time.  So when I bought an android phone a couple months ago I found that Overdrive had an android app.  Primarily, I am interested in the audiobook functions.  The android app also allows for ebook reading, but I already have a kindle account and do not really need ebook library functions (I have literally hundreds of unread books on my kindle account).

The problem with the ebook support at Overdrive is that it is only Adobe EPub.  So you have to unlock the book on a computer and then sync it to phone.  I am just not interested in the extra step.  I think the library systems need DRM, but Adobe EPub does not support mobile devices directly.

The best part of the audio experience of Overdrive on both iPad/iPhone and android is that it allows for direct download and direct playing of the audiobooks without using a computer.  I have not met a computer syncing system that I like, so I avoid syncing my iPad or android phone.  On android I have set it up to sync what I need wirelessly.  Without using a computer I am limited to MP3 audiobooks on Overdrive.  There are other WMA audiobooks, but that requires conversion on the computer and then syncing.  I have not tried that feature because I don’t want to sync with a computer.  But not using it means that I only have access to part of the audiobook library.

Overall, if you have an iPhone/iPad or android phone (there is also apps for Windows Mobile and Blackberry, but I have not tried those) then I would recommend giving Overdrive a chance.  You do have to live in an area that has a local public library that subscribes to Overdrive.  And you have to have an actual library card.  But if you have a library card, all the library systems that I have looked at subscribe to Overdrive.  And the DRM does expire the ebooks or audiobooks.  You have either 14 or 21 days (depending on publisher I think) to check out a book.  Most of the audiobooks have had a short waitlist, but their waitlist system works fairly well.


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