Friday, May 30, 2014

How to check out and listen to an audio book on Overdrive

I mainly use Overdrive, and have for years, to check out audio books. I had considered paying for Audible (you can get free access for 30 days to try it out), but then I joined the San Francisco library and got access to 3-4 times as many audio books as the Alameda Free Library has.

As I've covered before, you can log into the Overdrive site and check on availability. Similar to the Kindle type of books, the available audio books have a black set of headphones if they're available, and grey if not.
Note that the Janet Evanovich is the only one currently available.
To check one out, go to its page and click Borrow, as you did for the Kindle book. Also as with the Kindle book, when you click Borrow, you get a choice of formats.
MP3 is universal. WMA is a Windows-only format.
Here's a difference: you need to download the MP3 Audiobook on a computer on which you've got the Overdrive app or program. See the "Get the App" button on the right?

On your computer or iDevice, you'll want the Overdrive Media Console.

On a laptop or desktop computer: once you click Download (after choosing a format), you'll get a .odm file on your computer. Start Overdrive Media Console and do File->Open to load up the .odm file (or double-click it). Note that the audio book has not yet been downloaded. Once you've opened the .odm file in the console, you'll get a dialog to start downloading the .mp3 or .wma files onto your computer. This may take a while.

Here's the tricky part: once it's downloaded, you can use the "transfer" button to transfer the audio book onto your iPod.

I recommend against this, and here's why:

If you instead load the audio book in iTunes with cmd-O (my audio books end up in Documents->My Media in a folder with the book's title), it won't expire. You'll have it until you delete it. Copying it into iTunes in this way makes a copy and although Overdrive may delete that copy under My Media, the files in iTunes won't disappear until you overtly delete them. Cool, eh?

One last note on uploading audio books: you will have to select the files once they're uploaded to iTunes, do cmd-I (Get Info) and change their type in Options to Audiobook*.

*I tend to select "part of gapless album," "skip when shuffling," and "remember playback position." This last is the most important, I think.

I also find it useful to right-click the selected files and have it create a playlist. In my car, it makes it easy to find my audiobooks if I do this.

If you use Overdrive Media Console directly on your iPod, you will lose the book after the loan period expires. It can be useful if you don't have a computer to download to, or don't want to take that extra step. You'll have to play the audiobook from OMC rather than from iTunes.

To put the book on your iPod, hook your iPod up, select it, select "Books" and then Audiobooks. Make sure "Sync Books--Selected Books" is chosen, then scroll all the way down, and select the playlist under "Include audiobooks from playlists." Sync your iPod, and you're done!

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