Downloading eBooks and eAudiobooks with OverDrive


What is it?

OverDrive is a way of lending digital or electronic titles (eBooks and eAudiobooks) to public library patrons. Patrons can take part of your library with them everywhere they go and check out digital titles whenever they want. For instance, a patron can be awake in the middle of the night in another country and still be able to utilize the services of your library. Pretty cool. As a staff member and patron of your library, you get to enjoy this great service, too. All you need is your library card number and an Internet connection to get started. Once the eBook is downloaded to your device, you’re good to go.

OverDrive is a subscription electronic service. Just as your library subscribes to EBSCOhost and EBSCOhost is in charge of how their site looks, so is OverDrive in charge of how their site looks. Your library’s OverDrive site may match your homepage in small ways, but the collection descriptions, the site navigation,  and all other features of your library’s OverDrive site are determined and controlled by OverDrive. Sometimes this can be helpful to remember or to point out to your library patrons.

Why should I know about OverDrive?

More and more public library patrons want to check out eBooks and eAudiobooks. Those who bought the original Kindle, those who just got their first smartphone, and just about everyone in between will find a reason for trying this library service. And many will love it! For some patrons, no late or damage fees is a big plus. For others, convenience is a strong incentive. You may find your own reasons for why you like digital content. Please share!

What should I know about OverDrive?

Enjoy this short overview of OverDrive.

OverDrive Media Console: If you are using your computer to read or listen to eBooks or eAudiobooks, or for transferring eBooks or eAudiobooks to another device, you will need to install the OverDrive Media Console. This is also free and can be found through your library’s OverDrive pages. You may also need Adobe Digital Editions. However, most people no longer use OverDrive with their computers and instead use it with their devices.

Adobe ID: To complete the set-up of OverDrive on your computer or device (except if you are using Kindle), you will need an Adobe ID. This is free. You can get it at Adobe ID, or through the OverDrive pages linked to your library’s website. You can use your Adobe ID on multiple computers and devices, so remember your Adobe ID sign-in information for future use.

You should know the general differences between types of devices. For example, a tablet, a Nook without wireless capabilities, and a Kindle each require a different process to download an eBook. The three main types of devices are:

  1. smart/touch devices (including phones and tablets)
  2. eReaders
  3. Kindle devices

1) With smart or touch devices, you use the OverDrive Media Console app.

OverDrive Media Console app: The OverDrive app is a free application for smart or touch devices (including smartphones like an Android or Windows phone; portable players like an iPod Touch; or tablets like an iPad or Surface, for example).

The OverDrive app is where you and your patrons will go to search for, download, and read your library’s eBooks. To download the app:

  1. Go to the app store (for example, iTunes for Apple products or Google Play for Android devices) and search for the free OverDrive Media Console app.
  2. Once downloaded, look for the OverDrive app in your list of apps.
  3. Open the OverDrive app.
  4. Add the East Greenbush Community Library.
  5. Click on the East Greenbush Community Library to search your library’s digital titles.

2) With an eReader, you may have to connect your eReader to your computer to get eBooks, depending on how “smart” your eReader is.

Many eReaders now have a Wi-Fi connection, which allows you to search your library’s OverDrive pages and download OverDrive eBooks directly to the device.

3) With a Kindle device or the Kindle app, your Amazon account is an essential part of checking out OverDrive books.

Amazon Account: If you are using a Kindle or a Kindle app, you will not need an Adobe ID. Instead, you will use your Amazon account. (If you don’t have one, you will need to set one up. It’s also free.)

After you select the Kindle version to check out through OverDrive and click Download, you will be taken to Amazon. Sign-in to your Amazon account and then select the device where you want to send the OverDrive book. The next time you refresh your Kindle or open your Kindle app, your OverDrive library book will be waiting for you.

You should know that the set-up process is the hardest part of OverDrive; once you get through it, OverDrive is easy and fun. You have to go through the set-up process only once on a device.

There are three main types of digital titles in OverDrive:

  1. EPUB eBook (will not work on Kindles or the Kindle app)
  2. Kindle Book (will only work on Kindles or the Kindle app)
  3. OverDrive WMA Audiobook (you can’t read this, you can only listen to this)

Once you determine your device and finish the set-up, you will know whether to choose an EPUB eBook, a Kindle Book, or an OverDrive WMA Audiobook. You may accidentally make a mistake once in a while and choose the wrong kind of format, but it’s all free and you can’t hurt anything.

Main takeaways: You want to know if you are using OverDrive with a smart/touch device, an eReader, or a Kindle/Kindle app. You have to complete the initial (admittedly, sometimes frustrating) set-up process to access all the great digital titles your library has to offer. Once the set-up process is complete, it’s all fun.

OverDrive now also offers a brand new reading experience: Next Generation. You can now read an eBook in your browser, without having to go through any set-up process or download process. This might come in handy and could be just the thing for some library customers.

Part of the Next Generation experience for every OverDrive user means all your OverDrive account information is on one page and easily accessible. Check it out: OverDrive Next Generation.


Activity #1 – Download an eBook from the East Greenbush Community Library to your device.

Ready to start using OverDrive?

  1. Determine or choose your device and complete the set-up process for OverDrive on your device. Remember, you may need to get an Adobe ID or Amazon account.
  2. Browse the East Greenbush Community Library’s OverDrive site (through the library’s homepage or the OverDrive app) for an available eBook.
  3. Check out and download the title to your device.
  4. Read at least one chapter of the eBook. You may then continue reading it or return it.

Activity #2 – Download an eAudiobook from the East Greenbush Community Library to your device or your computer.

Ready to try a slight variation on the above process?

  1. Browse the East Greenbush Community Library’s OverDrive site (through the library’s homepage or the OverDrive app) for an available eAudiobook.
  2. Check out and download the title to your chosen device (this may be different than downloading an eBook; you may not be able to download an eAudiobook to your device and may have to download it to your computer instead).
  3. Listen to at least five minutes of the eAudiobook. You may then continue listening to it or return it.

Activity #3 – Blog about using OverDrive to download, read, listen to, and return (if applicable) eBooks and eAudiobooks.

Write about your experiences with OverDrive and/or its potential uses for your work. If you are already using it, you could write about the kinds of project for which it has been useful. If you wish, you could also compare and contrast the value of this kind of tool and consider how it could be used to further your own professional development.

Further Reading (optional)

This Learning 2.0 module was originally designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens‘ Transformative Literacies class in the Spring of 2013.  This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was authored by Heidi Lewis for East Greenbush Community Library. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.