How to borrow library ebooks through OverDrive, or, I finally updated these dratted things

Did you know that you can borrow ebooks (and digital audio books) from the library?  I'm guessing you don't normally read my blog if that's the case.  I kind of natter on about it a lot.

Well, in C/W MARS member libraries (Central and Western Massachusetts) have a shared OverDrive (our platform vendor for ebooks, downloadable audio books, and video) collection that can be found here.  Some individual libraries have additional collections through other vendors, but the focus here is on OverDrive.

For various reasons I have been editing, and then creating completely new, instructions for using our OverDrive collection with various devices for about two years now.  The person who had previous created the handouts for the network got a fabulous new job sometime between Amazon deciding to recalcitrantly play ball and the development of a mobile app.  We had a need, so I went ahead and filled it.  I started with her work as a frame and went from there.  Fortunately I like doing these even if some of my updates came significantly later than I wanted.

Well, for once delays actually worked in my favor.  I had gotten around to updating both the general E-Reader and the Kindle instructions after our OverDrive page got a major facelift earlier this year, but was months behind on updating the mobile iOS and Android handouts to reflect all the little changes.  A week or two ago my unwanted delay paid off as OverDrive Media Console v3 was released, moving my instructions from "slightly off" to "very misleading," and allowing me to shoe horn in this project as priority.

For your convenience I'm sharing the finally updated PDFs of the instructions (they are designed to be double sided tri-folds):
  • Traditional E-Reader - for traditional black & white e-readers, as well as color e-readers without an app store.  Requires your own computer (doesn't work out on a public computer).
  • Kindle - for traditional Kindles, the Fire is an Android device.  You must know your Amazon log-in.
  • iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch (iOS 6 or newer)
  • Android (Android 4.0 or newer) - for Android devices, including Kindle Fire, nook Color, and nook tablets.

For those who don't want to look at the PDFs and the pretty pictures they contain, here are simplified instructions:

Traditional E-Reader

You will need
  • an e-reader (not a Kindle, otherwise you're probably fine)
  • a computer
  • a library card 
1. Install Adobe Digital Editions if you don't have it already
2. Authorize ADE with an Adobe ID (if you don't have one, make one)
3. Figure out the URL for your library's OverDrive collection, then find some book you want to borrow.  Your e-reader should be able to handle PDF and EPUB (all the ebooks should be available in some variation of those two).
4. Borrow the book (this is where you need your library card number)
5. Download the book (if you have Firefox tell it to open with ADE)
6. Open ADE
7. Connect your e-reader to the computer
7b. On your first use let ADE authorize your e-reader, otherwise it won't let you transfer the book.
8. Drag the book from your library in ADE to your e-reader


You will need
  • a Kindle
  • a library card
  • to remember your Amazon login
  • a wireless connection (this will NOT work over 3G or 4G)
  • a computer (if the book is published by Penguin)
1.Figure out the URL for your library's OverDrive collection, then find some book you want to borrow.  If the book doesn't say that it is available as a Kindle Book you cannot read it on your Kindle (yell at Amazon, not us, they're the ones that will only allow lending to Kindles if they sell the book for Kindle).
2. Borrow the book (this is where you need your library card number)
3. "Download" - on our website this is where you choose your format, older versions of the website you chose the format before you check out.  When you choose Kindle and "Confirm & Download" it takes you to
4. Login to Amazon with the same account your Kindle is registered to
5. Deliver book to Kindle
5b. If this is one of the aforementioned books that requires a computer (USB only), you must download to a computer and transfer from the computer to your Kindle.  Supposedly this is easy.

iOS or Android

You will need
  • whatever the hell your mobile device is, if it has access to the Apple App Store or to Google Play your golden, even if you have older versions than indicated at the PDF links.  For nook tablets/color or Kindle Fire go through the branded store (unless you really want to go through Google Play)
  • a library card
  • an Internet connection (3G, 4G, wifi, whatever)
1. Install the OverDrive Media Console app
2. Authorize with an Adobe ID (if you don't have one make one)
3. Find and save your library/library network through the app, then use that to visit the catalog
4.  Find something you'd like to borrow (MP3 audio book or EPUB ebook, Kindle books have to go through the Kindle app)
5. Borrow the title (this is where you need your library card number)
6. Download
7. Read on device

If you have come across this and want more specific help than I've given at any point here, leave a comment.  I help people regularly with OverDrive, both in person and remotely, I'd be glad to try and help.


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