Library Hack: eBooks and Audiobooks

Posted on July 8, 2014 at 6:00 am

by Cara Strickland

Cara gives insider tips on how to get the most from our downloadable eBooks and audiobooks.

My to-read list is frighteningly long. Most of my friends are readers, and we love to give out book suggestions to each other. One good book leads to another and before I know it, my Goodreads account is bursting at the seams.

My life doesn’t leave as much margin as I would like for reading. I often find my eyelids heavy at the end of the day, and my good intentions of reading a chapter or two before I turn out the lights are abandoned in favor of just a little more sleep.

Still, I love how much bigger my world feels when I’m reading. I find that having my nose in a book brings additional interest to my conversations and my thoughts. Reading makes my life more interesting, and more fun.

I recently read a statistic that claimed that reading for 6 minutes a day can reduce stress by 68%. I’m not amazing at math, so I’m not going to attempt to quantify my stress by percentage points, but I will say that when I manage to carve out a few minutes for reading in my day, to stop and focus on a few good words, strung together by someone else, I do feel a little calmer and a little more accomplished. Once I started to notice this, I got serious about making time for reading in my life, but I’ve had to get creative.

Here are a couple of my tricks for snatching those six minutes of reading, wherever I can.

I’ve downloaded the Overdrive app to my smartphone (it works on all sorts of devices like iPods, computers, Kindles, Nooks and smartphones of all kinds). If you’re a resident of Spokane County, you can download eBooks for free through the our website (if you live within the City of Spokane, you can access Overdrive through the Spokane Public Library website). From that app, I can download any eBook we have in our system (or put myself on a waiting list if all of the digital copies are checked out).

Some books will download straight onto my device, others need to be downloaded onto my computer first, and then transferred over.

If you need help with downloading or have other questions related to Overdrive, I recommend that you start here. You can also Book a Librarian for a walk through of how these digital resources work.

Click through to start downloading from Spokane County Library District.

I always have my phone with me, and when I have a minute or two, I pull it out and read. Perhaps my favorite thing about this app is that it works without Wi-Fi or data. I need some sort of Internet connection to download the books in the first place, but after it’s on my phone, I can read it at any time (it even saves my place). I’ve read books in line at Chipotle, waiting for a friend to arrive for coffee, and during the trailers at the movies.

Most eBooks will check out for up to 21 days, so if I read in my free moments during the day, I can usually finish it without too much trouble. If I get busy, sometimes I’ll look to see if my eBook will renew. Just like I can sometimes extend my hard copy books when I don’t quite get to them (as long as no one else is waiting to use them), if an eBook doesn’t have a waiting list, an option to renew will appear next to the book in your Overdrive account. Overdrive will send you an email when your renewal is ready and you can re-download it. It even remembers where you left off!

I also like to listen to audiobooks on my way to and from work. My mom read to my brother and I often growing up, and I still like to be read to. Sometimes I check out the physical audiobook from the library, but other times I use the Overdrive app for  these, too.

Depending on the type of audiobook, I can usually download it directly to my phone and start listening that way. I love the way that I can bookmark my place in the story, so I don’t have to come to the end of a chapter every time I stop listening. I hook my phone up to my car stereo, using an iPod cord, or, if I’m not in my car, I plug in my headphones and let the story unfold wherever I am. I once listened to several Nate the Great books in a row while waiting in line at Costco on Black Friday.

With audiobooks, I find that the narrator makes all the difference, so I’m glad that Overdrive has an option to listen to a sample before I commit to checking out and downloading the whole book.

When I put these habits into practice, I find that I’m reading more than six minutes a day, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Cara Strickland

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