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Free Audio Books at OCPL – Too Good to be True?

As I was driving by my local library this weekend, I saw a big semi truck emblazoned with “Download Books and More from Your Library!” and “Digital Bookmobile”. Well, since I love to read, and especially love to read for free, I felt compelled to investigate.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I went into the Digital Bookmobile, where they had computers set up to show how it works. The Orange County Public Library has contracted with a company called OverDrive to offer Audio Books. OverDrive also offers music and eBooks, but the OCPL has not added these services to its offerings – yet. The service that’s available to all Orange County residents – for free – is Audio Books. You can go onto OCPL’s website, pick a book and download it to your computer. From there you can download it to your portable device, and for some books you can even burn a CD. It will stay on your computer for 14 days, and then it will expire. Of course you could go check it out again for another two weeks. Wow! That sounds too good to be true!

So I went straight home to try it out. It took me an hour or so to download the software and figure out how everything worked, and then I checked out two books, both of which are on the flyer that was given to me at the Digital Bookmobile. I checked out Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess. I downloaded them to my computer easily enough, and I was able to play them there. Then I tried to move them into iTunes. No go. It turns out that there are different licensing agreements with the publishers. Most of the books the library offers can be downloaded to your computer, but not to your iPod.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess

So. You can download lots of lots of popular books onto your computer and listen to them there. That’s pretty cool. And there are some titles, though not very many for children, that you can download to your iPod or burn to a CD.

Tips for Downloading

First, you need to go to the library’s Digital Catalog and sign in. To do that you’ll need your library card and pin. If you don’t remember the pin you created when you first got your library card, you’ll probably have to stop in at your local branch and show them your id in order to get your pin.  I also ran into two other problems with my library card.  First, my card is more than 10 years old, and the card number starts with a “D”.  When I called the library, she said that the letter has been changed to a 2.  So if your card starts with a letter, replace that letter with a “2”.  If that doesn’t work, call a library and they can help.  My second problem was that my account had expired.  Apparently every so often the card expires until they can re-verify your address and phone information.  The librarian did this over the phone for me.

Once you’ve logged in, you need to download their software.  Scroll down and click the button that says Overdrive Media Console on the bottom left.  odbutton1

On the next page you’ll see the same button near the top   center of the screen.  Click on it to get to the download page.  Next, click on the download button.  It’s pretty straightforward as downloads go.  oddownload
The go back to the Digital Catalog to look for a book you want. A WMA file allows you to download to your computer only.  An MP3 format allows you to download to a portable device.  If you want a book to load onto your iPod, go to advanced search and select MP3 under format.  Pick the book you want and add it to your eCart.  From there, it’s much like buying anything on the internet, except they don’t ask for your credit card.  Once that’s complete, click the Download button under the picture of the book.  It will open in the Media Console, and from there you can listen to it, or if allowed, burn it to a CD or download it to iTunes or a portable player.

Happy listening!

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