Electronic books are great. Free electronic books are even better. The library has long been a good place to get books, both print and audio. Many libraries have downloadable audio books and e-books, but smartphone users have been left out in the cold.
OverDrive is the biggest provider of downloadable library content. My library subscribes to them, and I’ve downloaded the occasional audiobook and, when I had a Sony e-Reader, I grabbed a couple of e-books. When I sold my Sony and started reading exclusively on my iPhone, I stopped visiting the library because there was no way to get library e-books on my phone.
Until now. Last week, OverDrive upgraded both their Android and iPhone apps to support ePub books, and I downloaded my first one to try it out.
I like it. It’s not the greatest e-reader. As you can see from the screen shot, a lot of screen real estate is taken up with controls. i prefer apps that hide/show the controls with a tap.
But I’m willing to put up with it because OverDrive has a feature no other e-reader I’ve tried has. See that little circle on the progress bar? That tells how many pages left in the chapter. That’s invaluable. Kindle for iPhone doesn’t show that, and many times I’ve quit reading just a page or two from the end of a chapter. If I’d only known!
Downloading books is easy. The app redirects you to Safari, and you can access the mobile version of your library OverDrive site. You can see books on hold and books that are available for download. You can check out and download right on your device. After authorizing with your Adobe Digital Editions account (which is free), there’s no need to mess with Adobe Digital Editions or iTunes.
What about audio books? It’s not quite as good at handling them. You can only download MP3 format books, and most libraries have a smaller selection of books in that format than .wma books. Like with e-books, you can download directly into the OverDrive app.
Playback is easy, and the controls are basic. If you are looking for fancy or advanced features, you won’t find them here.
Bookmarks are dodgy at best. Sometimes when I go back to a book, it will start playing where I left off. Sometimes not. You can set a bookmark, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to start at the bookmark. The previous version made that easy, but since the upgrade bookmarks have been useless. When the app decides to start at an odd point, I have to use the slider bar to get back close to where I left off. Bookmarks are good for reminding you where to slide to.
Overall, I’ll give it 3 out of 5 stars. I’d make that a 4 when they get bookmarks working properly. I’ll give them the full 5 when it can support .wma files.