As a commuter, I’m always looking for something interesting to listen to. LA traffic is a part-time job in it of itself. I’ve previously written about podcasts which I’m a huge advocate of in regards for learning new topics and being entertained. I can’t lie though, they do get boring and repetitive after a while. It’s content overload at times. Alternative options are out there.
Many podcasts are sponsored by Aubible, the Amazon-owned audiobook platform with a world of options, 280,000 of them to be exact. Makes sense. It’s only natural to put podcast listeners through that funnel. It’s hard to listen to a popular podcast that they haven’t put their name on. Upon signing up, you realize why. Audible clearly has ad money to blow.
They offer their first month free with access to one audiobook, but after that it’s $15/month. On top of that, you only get access to one audiobook with that subscription! Even if you get two audiobook subscription for $23/month and you still want more, you have to pay 70% of the purchase price of your third audiobook. Best-selling audiobooks usually average around $20 each. By the way, if you’re going through more than 3 audiobooks a month, that’s impressive.
You see, the the Audible life gets expensive. Amazon hardly even hooks it up for it’s beloved Prime members. Included in Prime is Audible Channels, which has some full audiobooks, but mostly has limited content. There has to be another way.
I’m just going to preface this by letting you know that nothing I am about to say is revolutionary. You’ve always been able to borrow books at a library for free. The only thing that’s changed is that we hardly ever go to libraries to borrow books. My university had five or six floors of books to borrow, but students were only in there to study and use the campus Wifi. We even used online databases if we needed credible sources for research papers while the books gathered dust on the shelves. Libraries had to adapt for a digital age.
Determined not to spend $230/year on audiobooks, I did a simple search for free audiobooks. Overdrive.com is awesome for partnering with local libraries to not only provide free audiobooks but also ebooks. While you cannot permanently keep them, they are free to borrow for a few weeks at a time. This is a pretty cool service that I haven’t heard many people take advantage of so spread the word.
First, I had to apply for a Los Angeles Public Library card because I could hardly remember the last time I set foot in one of those. I went to the librarian and it took less than a minute to fill out my information and be issued the card. It was actually quite nice. I had my laptop and the wifi was quick. The atmosphere was arguably better than a coffee shop due to the silence and not the sounds of grinding coffee beans or people talking on their phones.
Using the App
It was easy to go to their site and download the app on my iPhone, Mac, and Windows computer at work. The interface is not all that intuitive, but that may just be the LA Public Library. You have to browse by title and it’s best to know what you’re looking for. Since Overdrive partners with your local library, the availability is based on what other users have checked out. If a book isn’t available, you can place it on hold. You could even check out up to 30 titles at a time!
All listening occurs within the app. In order to listen, you first have to download the title through the app. Once that’s done, it’s now available offline. Books will often be split in parts depending on the length of the audiobook. For instance, I downloaded Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance and it was split in 5 parts of about 75 minutes each. He narrates of course.
The Overdrive library mostly has ebooks available. I checked out my first one for my tablet the other day so we’ll see how it goes. I’m more of a book-in-hand kind of guy. I like the accomplishment of looking back on the pages I finished, but it’s time to look toward the future and embrace technology.
If you apply for library cards in multiple cities, you could upload more than one to the Overdrive system. This will likely increase your pool of options since more titles will be available. Go out and get this app today and expand your knowledge for free!