HOWTO | Browse And Borrow Books
1 OverDrive account
When you first launch OverDrive you’ll be prompted to create an account. You can browse through the app to see how it works first, but you can’t actually download any books without one. Creating your account activates the Adobe DRM software – digital rights management – that OverDrive uses to prevent people from making illegal copies of books. Your account also allows you to sync your books – including bookmarks – to multiple devices, such as an iPad at home and an iPhone for the train.
2 Library list
The next step is to tell OverDrive which library you belong to. The developers work with libraries all over the world, and the app includes a list of libraries organised by country that you can browse through. You probably won’t find your little local branch library in that list – unless it’s well known for having a specialist collection – but enter the name of your city or your local council into the search field and OverDrive will check to see if there’s an online library service in your area.
3 Free books!
MacFormat’s London office comes under the London Libraries Consortium, and there are similar groups of libraries covering most parts of the UK. OverDrive now shows the home page for that group of libraries. The large grey menu section lists all the different categories of books and audiobooks that are on offer – fiction and non-fiction, and even comics and graphic novels. We can browse the collection from here, but can’t actually borrow anything until signed in with library membership details.
You can only borrow books from a library you belong to, so if you’re not already a member of your local library then this is a good time to sign up. Your library membership card will have both a membership number and a PIN for security, and you need to enter those into OverDrive so it can confirm your membership. OverDrive can connect you to hundreds of libraries all around the world, although most people will just belong to one library in their own local area.
The Borrow button
The search tools on your library’s home page allow you to browse through categories, or to locate specific authors or titles. All books and audiobooks allow you to read or listen to a short sample before borrowing, and if you click on the author’s name you’ll see other books from the same pen. If the book is available you can click the Borrow button to download it, but if all copies of a book are already on loan you can add it to your Wish List, and OverDrive will send you an email when it becomes available.
OverDrive is similar to Apple’s iBooks app, showing you each text page individually and allowing you to turn the page simply by swiping left or right. The menu button in the top-right corner allows you to quickly select chapters, while the button in the top-left corner returns you to your library’s home page. If you tap in the middle of a page OverDrive displays additional controls, such as selecting a different typeface and size. And, of course, there are the obligatory social media options.