It’s time for another Foo4’s Favs, and I have two this week that I found through my local library.
If you’ve got an iPod, Zune, or any other type of mp3 player — or even just a computer, Overdrive is a great resource for audiobooks and eBooks. For those of you who’ve tried the link previously and found it less than useful, I’ve connected it to a more helpful page. Just enter your zip code, and they’ll give you a list of participating libraries. If yours isn’t on there, ask your local librarian about adding it to their list of services.
Once you’ve found your local library’s Overdrive page, using it is simple:
Overdrive connects to your currently existing library account. I can log in with my library card number and last name — just like I do when renewing/reserving hard copy books online. You can search by genre, media type (mp3, WMA, iPod-compatible, eBook), most popular, or keyword search. The software is free and quick to download. You’re allowed to have five titles checked out at any given time and can choose a 7- or 14-day lending period. The Overdrive Media Console on your desktop will alert you when it’s time to delete your downloaded copy.
Libraries purchase the right to a certain number of downloads for each book. Some books automatically have unlimited “copies” and are always available, but sometimes there is a waiting list; however, you can reserve a place on the waiting list. The good news is that you don’t have to wait for the previous yahoo to return the book. Once their lending period expires, the title is placed in the next-in-line’s reserve box. An email will notify you when your reserve is available for checkout, and the title will be held for you up to five days from the time the email is sent. There’s even a Wish List option that lets you keep a list of titles you’d like to check out in future. Sometimes I just go straight to my wish list and choose my books from there.
Once you’ve checked out your books, you may download them from the website up to three times. I’ve had a couple problems with the downloading in the past (though not recently), but a quick email (just click on “Help”) explaining the problem has garnered a reset to grant me another three downloads when necessary. Actually, I’ve only needed a reset once. Some books take longer to download than others, but transferring them to my portable player has never taken longer than three minutes — and that was the unabridged Count of Monte Cristo. Actually, I don’t think it even took three minutes.
The other great site I’ve found is Susan Beecher’s online book clubs. Susan is the author of a column called Dear Reader, and you can read said column each weekday in your email inbox when you subscribe to one of her online book clubs. There are quite a few choices — mostly based on genre. Every Monday through Friday, you’ll receive an email containing Susan’s column and a five-minute excerpt from that week’s featured title. Basically, you get to read the beginning chapter of the book. On Friday, it’ll tell you on what page the excerpt ends in case you’d like to find a copy of the book for yourself and keep reading. Every so often Susan will have contests where readers can win books, vintage aprons, homemade cookies, or other prizes. I’ve found some really good books through Dear Reader.