OverDrive Review

Before you take the fast lane onto OverDrive, you should slow down and read the signs.  Stay in cruise control, and we'll go over what's good and not-so-good about OverDrive.

Pros

  • Accessible in multiple formats — You can access OverDrive from their website on your desktop computer's web browser, or from their free app for mobile devices.

  • Join the club… it's free! — All that you need to access OverDrive is a valid library card or student ID.  You can create an OverDrive account, too, and you only need your name, email address, and a password for it.  No money, credit card details, or other financial information is required.

  • Lots of content available — OverDrive has over 2 million media files from over 5000 different publishers available.  They have audio books, e-books, videos, music, newspapers, magazines, and more!

  • The heavy lifting is handled for you — Most files on OverDrive can be accessed right in the system through OverDrive's built-in media players.  This means that you often won't have to download or install any extra programs in order to watch a video, listen to music, or read an e-book.  However, if you do have media player programs installed (such as Adobe Digital Editions or the OverDrive app), you can download files and enjoy them without having to log into OverDrive every time.

  • Always return on time — Files that you borrow or download from OverDrive will automatically delete or deactivate themselves when your lending period is up, so you'll never have to worry about late fees.  Plus, some items don't need to be returned at all!

Cons

  • Results may vary — Each network of libraries or schools has its own digital collection on OverDrive.  This means that certain collections will have particular items that other collections may not have.  Unless you have access to multiple collections at once, you may need to recommend that your school or library pick up a copy of a certain item that you want.

  • This may not compute — Certain items on OverDrive are only available for download in specific file formats.  This means that they may not work properly on certain devices; this has been noted to be especially true with Apple products.  You may need to simply view or listen to the item on OverDrive itself, or else request that your library find a compatible version.  Fortunately, you can modify your searches on OverDrive to only find items that are compatible with the devices that you own.

  • The clock is ticking — Like traditional libraries, OverDrive only lends most files to you for a certain length of time.  Once the lending period is up, these files are programmed to automatically remove themselves from your account, or — if you've downloaded them — to stop working on the services that you're using to access them.  If you wish to access them again, you must ask to borrow them again.

The bottom line: 8.5/10

OverDrive may not be as flashy a website as its name implies, but it does its job well.  It's easy to access, and has lots of different media content available that you can search for or browse through.  You can enjoy what you find right on OverDrive, or download a copy of a file and take it with you on another device or program.  Plus, OverDrive is completely free to use.  You won't be charged any money to access it or sign up for an account, and you will never be fined late fees because most items that you borrow will automatically return themselves when your lending time expires.

The main downside to OverDrive is that your choice of what you can enjoy — or how you can enjoy it — is limited by what titles your specific school or library chain has access to, or what formats of those titles are available.  And, like a real-life library, you can't purchase, own, or keep most content that you get from OverDrive; you can only borrow it.  The content will automatically delete itself from your account or stop working after your lending period is up, and you'll have to borrow it again.

Overall, though, OverDrive is a convenient tool for accessing resources at your local library from the comfort of your own home, without a whole lot of red tape or technological complications.  It's great for those who want to read books or watch movies for a certain amount of time and then return them, rather than have them hang around and take up space until one decides to get rid of them.


What is OverDrive?

Lots of people like to go out to their local libraries to borrow books and other forms of media, sometimes to learn something new, and other times just to be entertained.  But it's not always easy to make it to the library; it may be closed, the weather may be inclement, or some people may generally have difficulty getting around.  Wouldn't it be nice if the library could come to you instead?

It's time for you to meet OverDrive.  With OverDrive, you can borrow and enjoy materials from your local library or school's digital collection, including audiobooks, e-books, music tracks, and movies.  And all that you need to access it is a valid library card or student ID.

So what exactly is OverDrive?

OverDrive is an online repository of audiobooks, e-books, videos, and music accessible to library and school patrons worldwide.  The content available differs between each institution, and most borrowed materials are available to be enjoyed for a limited time through the OverDrive website or app.

What is the OverDrive app, then?

The OverDrive app is a program available for desktop computers, tablet computers, and smart phones.  It allows access to the content of library materials that are borrowed from OverDrive and then downloaded onto your device, instead of being accessed directly on the OverDrive website.

How much does OverDrive cost?

Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  That's right, OverDrive is completely free to use.

You won't even be charged late fees, ever.  That's because OverDrive automatically deletes any items that you've borrowed from your account once their lending periods are up.  Or, if you've downloaded certain items (using programs like the OverDrive App or Adobe Digital Editions), they'll automatically deactivate on the services that you used to access them.  This means that you won't ever have to remember to do it yourself, and so you'll never get fined.

The only exceptions are certain periodicals, such as newspapers or magazines (if your library has them).  If you download them on certain devices, they will stay there until you manually delete them.  However, periodicals aren't subject to late fees anyway, so you can rest easy.

One last note: if you transfer an item that you borrow to a different format, like putting an e-book on your e-reader or burning music or an audio book onto a CD, please destroy or otherwise erase the copy once the lending period is up.  We wouldn't want you getting in trouble with the law, because that might actually cost you something.

How OverDrive works: 5 steps to using OverDrive

1.  Choose how you want to access OverDrive.

You can access OverDrive from the website at www.overdrive.com, if you're on your desktop computer.  However, if you have a tablet computer (such as an iPad) or a smart phone, you can download the free OverDrive app and access OverDrive from there.

2. Sign up for an OverDrive account.

An account on OverDrive is free, and you only need to enter your name, email address, and a password in order to create one.  You don't need an account to actually use OverDrive, but it's useful for keeping track of libraries that you access most often, or items that you search for and borrow repeatedly.

3. Find the OverDrive collection of your local library or school.

Once you're on OverDrive, you'll need to find your local library or school in the system and see if they (or the network that they're a part of) have a digital collection available.  If you find one, just enter your library card or student ID information, and you're in!

4. Browse and search for the media that you want.

You can look to see what items are available on the OverDrive collection of your local library or school based on a number of different factors.  These include:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Format (e.g. e-book, audio book, song, video, etc.)
  • Genre (e.g. comedy, drama, fiction, non-fiction, comics, self-help, etc.)
  • Subject (business, food, science, relationships, etc.)
  • What devices the item is compatible with

5. Enjoy what you find!

Once you've found an item, you can go ahead and borrow it with a single click!  Or, if you're not sure that you'll like it, you can listen to or view a preview of it.

You can also put an item on your "Wish List", see more details about an item, or share an item's details with your friends on your social media accounts.

Once you borrow an item, you can play it right on OverDrive with their built-in media players, or download it in a particular format.  From there, all that's left to do is view, listen, and enjoy!

 

Throughout this OverDrive course on TechBoomers, we'll show you how to borrow items from the OverDrive website, and enjoy them either on the OverDrive website or on the downloadable OverDrive app for your desktop computer or mobile device of choice!  Get the education and entertainment of your local library right in the comfort of your own home with OverDrive!