How Overdrive Helped Us Embrace Ebooks and Audiobooks

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Image via The MacAndrew Family

Like many geeks, I love books. Like many geeks, I also find myself facing the harsh reality that my bookcase is not the TARDIS, and my house can only fit so many bookcases, to begin with. Since the Laws of Physics are cruel and relentless in this regard, I have had to deal with the fact that I can’t keep all the books—as much as I would love to.

Most people would just hop over to their local library, but the logistics of that are more challenging when you live in the suburbs and the nearest library is about twenty to twenty-five minutes away. When we first moved out here, our work commute was an hour in a town where thirty to forty minutes should be able to get you from one end to the other simply because of how far out of our way we had to drive for daycare. This did not even factor in the worry that, between our two boys and one rescue Lab mix (which would eventually become two rescue Lab mixes, the second of which wants to eat the universe), someone was going to lose or eat a library book.

So there we were, trapped in a one-hour commute each way with two boys who were too young to read and we refused to just turn that into tablet time or get a video player in the car. The first few weeks of this routine were not pretty. Luckily for us, I soon discovered our county library system had a decent size ebook and audiobook collection through Overdrive. We could borrow and download the entire Ramona Quimby Audio Collection (read by Stockard Channing!) or the How to Train Your Dragon audiobooks (David Tennant narrating!) and the ride magically became way more peaceful, plus I loved the idea of exposing our kids to books they would later be able to read. We even found our older son (then in Pre-K) was reenacting bits of audiobook stories with his Playmobil figures at home.

Just as audiobooks were saving the sanity of our commute, I started to find more and more of the historical romance novels I like available through Overdrive. They were the kind of books that I read once but used bookstores would never take because they got far too many. Getting them through Overdrive was a far more practical solution.

I also found it to be a better way to get other books I truly enjoyed reading but didn’t feel like permanently keeping. I never had to worry that my kids or canines would bring an untimely end to a book, I could check out books even if the library was not open, and I never had to worry about late fees, since books return to their system automatically on their due date. It was almost a perfect solution.

While our library had a decent collection, there was still a number of titles I wanted to see more of. That’s when I discovered that the Brooklyn Public Library allows you to buy a non-resident subscription to their collection. For $50 a year, we could have access to their ebook and audiobook Overdrive collection as well as that of our county library. It was one of the best $50 purchases I have ever made.

I still love physical copies of books, but for titles I am likely to read once, it’s been a money and space saver. Since I can send books I check out on Overdrive to the kids’ Kindles, it’s extra handy for the books they are likely to read once but not again.

Our older son is in elementary school now and his younger brother got into a preschool much closer to our house, so there’s no more commute. However, a long car trip found us returning to audiobooks by purchasing an Audible subscription. Several of our first purchases included our favorites from the Overdrive collections, and now my boys listen to either Harry Potter or Magic Tree House as they build with LEGO or color.

It’s time for me to renew my Brooklyn Library Overdrive subscription again, and I look as forward to the books I will discover that way as much as the books I will hold physical copies of.

Do you prefer traditional physical books or have you found an appreciation for ebooks and audiobooks? Leave a note in the comments.

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