How to enjoy library audiobooks on the go

Eric Gwinn, the gadgets editor for the Chicago Tribune wrote a (slightly overly) nice and non-judgmental article about digital audiobooks from libraries. My quick read didn’t find any errors or misinformation, which seems to be a rarity when it comes to library technology issues in newspapers and magazines. The article spends a decent amount of time addressing some negative things about the digital audiobooks we offer but it never gets negative on the service:

The process of downloading a library audiobook to your computer and transferring it to a portable media player doesn’t always go smoothly. [ha!] Even if you follow the directions, files may seem to disappear. Don’t panic. Review the step-by-step instructions on your library’s Web site. [Does he mean actual library website or the website linked from the library site? Do patrons differentiate or care?]

You can put a “hold” on a checked-out audiobook, telling the library, “I want to check this out when it is returned,” but if you are the fourth person to place a hold, you could be waiting as long as 84 days — nearly three months! — before listening to that book.

Library audiobooks don’t work with Macs, iPods or iPhones. Audiobooks downloaded from libraries use copy-protection technology that Mac computers and Mac devices don’t support. This is librarians’ answer to the frequently asked question, “Why won’t this audiobook show up in my iPod?”

Big ups to Gwinn for “How to enjoy library audiobooks on the go” and spreading the word. Libraries could probably use the article as a promotion for their digital audiobook service.

3 thoughts on “How to enjoy library audiobooks on the go”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Downloading from services like Overdrive can be problematic.

    Some things that will change. Overdrive will work with Ipods beginning in May. There is a work around now involving burning the audio to a cd, then ripping it back to the computer.

    Some audiobooks are unlimited, meaning that anyone can check them out at any time. These are referred to as Maximum Access.

    I have instructions here on how to download and transfer e-audiobooks from overdrive here: (click on the Overdrive Audiobooks)

  2. I don’t own an iPod but I own other MP3 players. I don’t use MS Media Player.

    To me, the issue isn’t that this one database (i.e. overdrive) might or not work with just one device (e.g. Apple’s DRM platform). The issue is that libraries have historically gone out of their way to address the information needs of a broad set of communities but not when it comes to electronic information. It seems that when it comes to audiobooks and ebooks libraries are willing to encourage DRM technologies that lock-out large segments of the communities they serve.

    I think the best option would be for libraries to NOT pay Overdrive, Naxos, and OCLC for information products until they are no longer disabled by DRM.

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