A Blog Post by Jessica Hodges
An Evening Read, using Overdrive for iOS
I’m practically spinning as I walk through my door on a late Friday afternoon. It’s been a busy day. I need a break. Fortunately for me, I have just the thing in mind, the new book in a favorite series. One problem, I don’t want to read it in text, Bard, the reading service for the blind through the library of congress, doesn’t have it, and I don’t have any audiblecredits to use. Dejected for only a moment, I pull out my iPhone and load up Overdrive. Upon opening it, I sigh. Due to a tech problem, I’ve just had to wipe my phone, so Overdrive no longer has my library information. I’m going to have to start from the top. Overdriveis also available in the Google Play Store.
Overdrive is an app that lets you rent eBooks and audiobooks from your local library in a digital format. When I first launch the app, it gives me a chance to create an account or log in. I decide to create a new account, since I didn’t have one before. The process for this is straight forward, with all the fields correctly labeled. If I didn’t want to do this however, it gives me an option to continue without signing in. After that, it presents me with the main screen of the app. There’s a main menu button, a button for sorting the titles you have and selecting between various categories, and an edit button. Ordenarily, my library and titles would be next. But since I have no titles, and no library, an element that says, “Add a library,” is the first thing I see. Clicking on this brings me to two options, search, and browse. When searching, it’s easy to search by city, library name, or zip code. I put in my postal code, and am met with a clean, easily swipable list of libraries. Finding the one I want, I do a double tap, go to the bottom of the screen, and click the add button. This brings me directly into the library’s website. If I’d had the library added, I would have seen its name a bit lower in the menu, before the add button. Clicking on it there would also launch the cite.
Sadly, I can’t say too much about checking out a book. To do this, Overdrive actually interfaces with your specific library’s website, so every checkout experience is going to be different. Here though are a few universals. You will need a library card in order to check out any book. When checking out an eBook, there is an option to log in with Amazon and get the title as a Kindle book. I would suggest doing this, as I’ve not yet been able to get Overdrives eBooks to work properly. You can have multiple libraries hooked to one app, and though it’s a digital system, sometimes one library doesn’t have the book you’re looking for, or all the copies are on hold. Last, overdrives books work exactly like other library books, there are a certain number of copies, digital return by dates, and often a hold list. All of these things are handled through your library website. Finally, in order to get overdrive to download your book, you must click a link that says something about an overdrive download. Without clicking this link, overdrive won’t see that you’ve checked out a title. Sometimes, this link can be found right after you’ve checked out a book, other times only by clicking on the page containing your loans.
All that aside, I’ve checked out my book. Overdrive downloads its books in parts, much like old disks in a binder. I can access these parts through the files tab. To get there, I hit the button labeled, “Main Menu,” at the top of most screens. Under this menu, I’ve got six options, bookshelf, account, settings, files, history, and help. Once I tap on the file button, I can see live progress of my downloads. Each title I have in my library is a button. By clicking on it, I can see all its associated files. I can also select parts to download or delete if I don’t want the whole thing on my phone at once. Eagerly, I watch my progress bar.
Once I decide I need to distract myself from watching my terribly slow download, I decide to make sure my settings are in place, so I wander back to the main menu and click on settings. Automatic downloads lets you download the next part of a book when you get close to the end of the one you’re on, if you’ve not downloaded it already. Automatic syncing keeps your place across your account in whatever book you’re reading. These are both on, which I leave alone. Here is also a place to sign into Adobe, if you’d rather read Overdrive eBooks that way. Everything seems to be as I want it, so I leave it be.
I don’t think I need to bother with the history or account sections of the menu, though if I did, I’d see a history of all the titles I’d downloaded, and options for managing my email, password, and library cards respectively. Instead, I flick back to my files tab, and notice that part one of my book has finished downloading, and it’s busily getting all remaining parts. Hurriedly, I head over to the bookshelf tab, though really, I didn’t need to do this. The titles in my shelf, as well as the button for launching my library website and adding a library, are near the bottom of every screen. Holding my breath, I click on the book.
When first I open the player, the first button I get after the main menu, and the title of the book, is the bookmarks button. This does exactly what it sounds like. Next is a button called, “Title menu. Clicking this gives me the table of contents. If I made any bookmarks, there’s a section at the end of the table of contents where they appear. There is also a button in here to present me with an overview of the book, its expiration date, and a button to take me to the library website. Tapping this button again closes the menu. Next to this button is a sleep timer. When pressed, an alert pops up with options including off, fifteen, thirty, forty-five, sixty, and ninety minutes. The playback rate button, next in the screen, has a similar alert with .5 1, 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, and 2 times as fast. Next is an element that tells me what part of the book I’m in, how many parts the book has, and the title. If I want to change my position within that part, I could do so with the percent slider that goes up and down by tens, located right next to the part info. After this, I can see how much time has gone by, the speed I’m currently playing at, and how much time is left. Then, there are buttons for previous chapter, labeled previous heading, a button labeled, “Navigate backward 15” which brings you back fifteen seconds, the play button, a button similarly labeled that brings you forward fifteen seconds, and the next chapter button. This screen I find simple and uncluttered, and have no problem playing my book. I sit back, pop some popcorn, and relax.
Much, much later, it’s four in the morning, and I have finished my book. Wiping my eyes, it had been a roller coaster ride, I go into the main menu to return my book. When I’m in my bookshelf view, right next to the sort button is an edit button. This is the only part of the app that gets a bit tricky. The book titles, while shown, are not spoken by VoiceOver. The only thing that is spoken is how many days you have before a book expires. After this is a return button. The return button is always after the expiration info, so a return can be done, I just need to pay close attention. When I tap return, it prompts me with an alert, saying it will delete the book from my device and return it early. If I hit yes, the book will be returned, and in order to download it again, I’ll need to get it from the library cite once more. I have a feeling I’ll be getting this one many times in future. Rubbing my eyes, I get dressed for the day, and shamble off to class, looking for another book to read on the bus.
I hope that I’ve been able to shed some light on how to use Overdrive for iOS. If I’ve gotten anything incorrectly, you need more clarification, you have questions, or have any ideas for future posts, please send me an email.Until then, happy reading!