I’ve been meaning to do this post for a very long time now because I’ve introduced several coworkers to the wonders of OverDrive and thought it would be a helpful post for a lot of people, but now that my husband just got his first kindle, I figure it’s time to stop putting off this post!
Basically, OverDrive is the most amazing app ever. If you’re not already familiar with it, it’s how most U.S. libraries operate their digital lending programs. It enables me to check out a book on my phone and start reading it on my kindle in a matter of minutes.
Obviously the first step is to set up an account and link it to your library card. I think those are pretty simple steps that you can follow the instructions for, and if not, you can definitely google it and find some answers pretty quickly. Just from a cursory search, I’d say this article on OverDrive and this set of links on the New York Public Library page are pretty good places to start. I’m sure your local library can walk you through it, too.
In this post, though, I want to focus more on how to take the most advantage of OverDrive.
For instance, did you know that you can suspend your loans so that they don’t all get checked out at once? This is one of my most used features on OverDrive, and it’s so easy to do. Oftentimes I’ll place a hold on five or 10 books at a time, but I don’t want to have to frantically read through them all at once if a bunch of them happen to check out to me at the same time. So I’ll suspend the books I know I don’t necessarily want to read right away, and then remove the suspension when I’m ready for it to be checked out to me.
To suspend a hold, just go to your Holds page in the app and tap on “Suspend Hold.” You can then choose how long you want to suspend your hold, ranging from seven days to six months. While it’s on hold, your place in line will continue to move forward, but if you hit number one and your hold is still suspended, the hold line will skip over you and move to the person behind you so they can read it while you wait to reactivate your suspension. You can always further extend your suspension if you want, but it will automatically expire after the set amount of time and check the book out to you as soon as it’s available.
In that same vein, to help move the hold line along for popular books, I highly encourage you to check books back in after you finish reading them. All you have to do is go to your Loan page and tap “Return” so that the next person in line who is eagerly anticipating this book can read it even sooner than if you’d let the entire two- or three-week loan (depending on your settings) run its course.
Plus, there’s a bit of a glitch right now with OverDrive where you can return books in the app, but they’ll still stay in your kindle library until the full length of the loan has run its course. So you can return a book so the next person can read it while still continuing to enjoy it yourself. I’m not sure if they have plans to fix this glitch, as it used to be that you had to go directly into Amazon to return books and being able to return it in the OverDrive app is still relatively new, but this has been going on for a few months now.
Another awesome feature I like to take advantage of is recommending books to the library. This is a great way to ask a library to get a book you want to read, and if you do this for new releases, you’ll oftentimes be near the front of the line on the hold list!
To do it, just search for a book in the library’s collection. If they don’t have it, just keep scrolling until you see “Didn’t find what you’re looking for?” I searched for Take the Lead by Alexis Daria, and in this case, it happened to be the first book that popped up at the bottom. I just clicked on “Recommend,” and the New York Public Library added it to the list of recommended books to review. As you can see, if they add it to their collection, they’ll automatically put me on the wait list and send me an email when it becomes available. It’s such a great feature, and like I said, I especially recommend doing this for new releases so you don’t get stuck in a line of more than 100 people.
To review the books you’ve recommended, just go to the Recommendations tab under My Account. There you can see what you’ve recommended and when, as well as what the criteria are for your library to accept recommendations, as different libraries have different restrictions on how many books you can recommend and when.
Oh, and if you want to extend your loan on a book, the library usually emails you three days before your loan expires to give you a heads up. If nobody else has a hold on that book, a little icon will appear below your book on the Holds page inviting you to renew your loan. You can’t see it on any of my loans now because they’re not expiring in three days, but the icon will pop up where the red box is in the image to the right. Once your loan expires, the library will automatically check it out to you for another lending period.
Also, this feels like a bit of a dirty trick, but if you want to keep a book for longer than three weeks but don’t want to renew it or can’t because it’s an in demand book, you can always turn off wifi on your kindle and keep reading. Obviously this isn’t a long term fix, as without wifi, you can’t download any new loans that might be checked out to you, but it’ll help in a pinch. Though of course, that trick doesn’t really work if you only read on your phone unless you want to put it in airplane mode until you finish reading!
And finally, if you check out an audiobook from OverDrive, be sure to download the Libby app and listen to it there! Technically Libby can just be your go-to app (it’s just an updated app created by OverDrive with a much prettier interface), but I personally prefer to stick with OverDrive. I’m just used to it, and I haven’t figure out yet how to recommend books on Libby (though to be honest, I haven’t looked in a while. Maybe they’ve updated it since the last time I went hunting for that feature).
But I LOVE the audiobook function on Libby, even more than the Audible app! I absolutely hate listening to audiobooks on OverDrive because you can’t tell how much you have left in a chapter. On Audible, you can see how much is left in a chapter, but then it’s kind of a pain to switch it and see how much is left in the book. On Libby, it’s as simple as tapping on the time, and it will cycle through how much is left in the chapter, what percentage you are into the audiobook (another feature that’s hard to find on Audible!), how much is left in the entire book, and how much of the book you’ve listened to so far. It’s great!
Literally the only other thing I wish they would do is give little indicators along the bottom of where good stopping points in the book are, kind of like when you can see the paragraph breaks on a physical page. But I don’t think anyone is doing that yet, and it would just be a nice bonus on top of what is already a great audiobook app.
I hope this post is helpful to other OverDrive users out there! If you have any of your own tips and tricks, definitely be sure to leave those in the comments below. And of course, feel free to ask any questions you might have about using OverDrive! I’m more than happy to help if I can. Happy reading!