Android Entertainment

Borrow eBooks, Audiobooks, and More for Free with OverDrive for Android

Bertel King 20-05-2015

I love libraries, but I get why they aren’t for everyone. The selection varies by area, and other people have already checked out the best books. Maybe you’ve even lost all interest in physical forms of media. CDs, DVDs, and magazines may not sound all that exciting in a world where you can get anything online Top 5 Best Android Apps For Reading Magazines For reading magazines on your Android tablet or phone, you will want these apps. Read More .


The thing is, you can check out stuff from the library online as well, and it’s just as free as making a trip in person. All you need is the Overdrive app and a library card. Make a virtual trip to the Play Store to get the former, then go on a real trip to your library for the latter. I’ll wait here to walk you through the rest of the experience.

Getting Started

Just like at the library, you must create an account to do anything on Overdrive. The app lets you use Facebook, but you can opt to provide your name and email address instead. Either way, Overdrive will use your account to keep track of which books you’ve checked out or placed on hold.

Then you must add a library. You can search by name, city, or postal code. If one doesn’t work, try another. That’s what I had to do.


You don’t need a library card to browse through your branch’s selection, but you can’t check out or hold a book without one.


Searching For Content


Think of your library as the Play Store. You will go to this section of the app whenever you’re ready to check out new stuff. Books and audiobooks have different icons in the top right corner. When you select a title, the option to borrow will appear if no one has already beat you to it. Otherwise you have the choice to place a hold instead and receive the title once your turn is up.

It often seems like anything I might enjoy is already checked out, and so are many of the books the app recommends. That’s because OverDrive likes to suggest what’s new or popular, meaning everyone else may see the same books.

You can tell the app to sort by author, title, release date, and relevancy. Unfortunately, you can’t tell it to exclude titles that are already checked out. At least you can see which titles are available before clicking by looking at the icon in the upper right corner. If it’s dimmed, that means someone else is already reading it.



When you select a book, you can read a sample regardless of if you’re able to check it out. You can also see how many copies your library has available and which digital formats it offers. OverDrive lets you read all books inside the app, but some you can download as ePubs or Kindle Mobi files to import into another reader.

There’s a limit to how much stuff you can check out at once, but it’s pretty high. With the option to rent two dozen titles and hold even more, OverDrive lets me keep more reading and listening material than I need. And I can carry it all for weeks.



Reading eBooks

Once you’ve checked out a title, it will appear on your Overdrive bookshelf. You can tap the center of a page to change the font, tweak the spacing, adjust the brightness, and otherwise alter the experience..


Overdrive doesn’t let you take notes or share quotes like you can in Amazon’s Kindle The Kindle App for Android and iPhone: As Good as a Real Kindle? You don't actually need a Kindle ereader to read ebooks. The Kindle app on your phone does the job. Here's how to use it. Read More or Barnes & Noble’s Nook apps, but you can save bookmarks and skip around using the table of contents. The app will also display a progress bar that shows what percentage of the book you’ve read.



Just like with a real library book, the focus here is on reading, and the app provides enough of the essentials to get by.

Listening to Audiobooks

When you lay claim to an audiobook, OverDrive downloads it as a series of MP3 files that you’re able to listen to inside the app. You don’t have to go digging around a file manager to find them, nor do you have to wait for them to complete before you begin listening. Once the progress bar fills up for the first file, you can dive in.


Again, OverDrive provides enough of the essentials to satisfy most listeners. You can play, pause, and skip around in increments of seconds or parts. You can adjust the speaking speed from .5x (half as fast) to 2x (twice as fast) as the default.


Raise your hand if growing older has done nothing to make you appreciate a good bedtime story any less. A sleep timer comes included for people like us who like to fall asleep listening to books. The default options are 15 minutes, a half hour, or a full hour, but you can set a custom time of your own up to 99 minutes.


OverDrive doesn’t contain some of the advanced features you can find in other Android apps 4 Fun, Simple Ways to Enjoy Audiobooks on Android Audiobooks offer a fantastic alternative to reading! Here are the best ways to listen to audiobooks on Android. Read More (such as the ability to auto-rewind books a certain amount after lengthy pauses). If you really want to go all out, you’re going to want an app that lets you play your own DRM-free files 3 Simple Ways to Listen to DRM-Free Audiobooks on Android Want to listen to audiobooks without the restrictions of DRM? We sure have a treat for you. Read More .

Ready to Check Out?

OverDrive won’t replace your local library. That said, it’s a nice supplement to your digital collection of eBooks and audiobooks. The app also supports streaming video, but my county doesn’t have any such content for me to try out. The same is true for magazines that integrate with Nook.

OverDrive’s mobile interface could use some work in places. You will spend much of your time browsing webpages inside the app rather than a native Android interface. Still, OverDrive is a good way to indulge yourself for free. And unlike most sources of free eBooks Want An All-You-Can-Read Buffet? 3 Places To Find Free Ebooks Online It's a great idea to devote some time to the joys of reading and utilize the interesting selection of books available for free at our fingertips. Here are three interesting places you can visit. Read More , it gives you access to mainstream novels. The service is also great for checking out titles that you aren’t sure you’re ready to put money towards. Not only that — it got me to check out my local library again.

What about you? Do you plan to use OverDrive to read or listen to books? Have you already been doing so for years? Either way, share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Image Credits: hand holding smartphone Via Shutterstock

Related topics: eReader, Reading.

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  1. Kizza
    April 7, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks, it worked.

  2. john
    May 22, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Once you get a library card which is usually in person then yiu can go to that library's web site and check out books directlu. So I fail to see why you need Overdrive.

    • Kizza
      April 7, 2018 at 9:23 pm

      I guess Overdrive lets you store audio books from different sources in one handy place.

  3. G Baker
    May 21, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Overdrive is great and the US Navy has a library with lots of great books. Wonderful with a long drive.

  4. Paul
    May 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I have been using g Overdrive for about two years and have renewed my childhood love of the library. I can checkout up to 10 books although I usually limit it to about 5-6. I can put holds on up to 10 books. No late fees any more because I was out of town or otherwise unable to get back to the library in time. My books return automatically after 21 days unless I renew them. The interface can be a bit clunky at times but IT'S FREE. In my area my local library has an agreement with all the other municiple libraries so I have access to those e-books as well. Love the app.

  5. wallace
    May 21, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Hello anyone is this a gemic and you pay or free?

  6. Doc
    May 20, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    I take it these are time-limited, and DRM-crippled (er, "DRM-enabled")?
    No thanks, I can get lots of legal ebooks and audio other places.

  7. KK
    May 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I am able to eliminate books currently checked out by choosing Filter at the top of the page, then Show me followed by Available Now instead of All books.

    • Bertel
      May 21, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Are you able to do this while browsing? I only see filter options available for my library when I do a specific search.

  8. Hildy J
    May 20, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Some additional notes from an Overdrive addict:

    If you live in a city or suburb, your local library probably has arrangements with neighboring libraries and you can get cards from them as well, increasing your chances that a book will be available.

    If you have a Windows tablet, Overdrive is also available for that.

    Once you've got that library card, see if your library lets you checkout magazines. Overdrive doesn't support this but Zinio does.

  9. neo269
    May 20, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Problem is to get a library card. Hardly any library can provide the card online. If you know of any such libraries, Pls share