The High Tech Society

What is OverDrive? How to Access and Read Millions of Library Books Online 


What is OverDrive? How to Access and Read Millions of Library Books Online

Whether you’re looking for Kindle library books or just free eBooks to download and read, your local library may be a surprisingly great source. Over 30,000 libraries in the United States participate in an initiative known as Overdrive. By downloading the app or accessing the website with your library card, Overdrive enables you to access and read millions of books (depending on local availability) for free from your Kindle, Fire, Nook, or other device.  

What is OverDrive

Overdrive was founded in 1986 with the purpose of converting analogue formats to digital. By 2,000, the service moved online, and OverDrive launched several products including WinCatalogue and Content Reserve, linking to and sharing digital files of books and other media. The company eventually developed into creating digital libraries, first managing LexusNexus and then branching into launching its own. In 2015, Overdrive was purchased by Rakuten, and sub-sequentially partnered with multiple publishing and education companies.  

Today, OverDrive functions primarily as a digital library portal with eBook reserve, which operates as a digital portal for over 30,000 libraries in the United States with a library of over 2 million titles (access is restricted based on location).  

How Do You Access and Use OneDrive?

OneDrive is a free app and website, which anyone can access and use with nothing more than a library card. If you don’t have one, you can go to your local library where fees are typically free with a small upfront cost to pay for the actual card. In some cases, you will pay $5-$100 per year, although rates vary depending on your location.  

From there you can:  

  • Download the app/Access the website  
  • Sign Up (you may use Facebook or manually sign up)  
  • Check for books or other media. Availability will vary depending on your location  
  • Check out with your library card. Most titles are available for up to 21 days  

The App

While you can choose to use OverDrive through the website with an account, it’s much easier to download the app if you have a compatible tablet or device.  

Usability – Unless you’re good with technology, it will take you a bit to familiarize yourself with the app and how it works. It’s not 100% intuitive, but I personally had no problems.  

Search – Search works very well and you can easily find titles based on specific searches, author, or genre. You will have to search multiple libraries and cannot just set your chosen library in advance, which does make the whole process a bit more clunky, but it does allow you to search and choose any library you have a card for (making both county and local library books and audiobooks available).  

Availability – OverDrive allows you to borrow titles licensed by your local library in the quantity licensed by them. In many cases, your local library will only have one copy of each title and there may be a wait line, especially for new releases. So, you’ll have a lot more luck finding books you want if you aren’t looking at featured and brand-new titles.  

Using OverDrive on Kindle

If you’re trying to download Kindle library books, OverDrive makes it easy. In addition to offering a Kindle app, you can set your account up with email to kindle, so OverDrive will actually send your file directly to your Kindle or Fire tablet.  

Final Verdict

OverDrive is a fantastic resource that will help you to make more of your library card, including giving you access to audiobooks and eBooks with up to 21 days to read or listen to them. With thousands of titles available in most regions, including some new releases and bestsellers, it can save you a lot of money over buying new titles, providing you’re sometimes willing to wait for access.