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Free audiobook options

By Celeste McNeil

Do you love to read and find yourself with a lot of free time on your hands right now? In this digital age, there are many options to take literature on the go, like e-books, e-magazines and audiobooks. As a teenager I remember listening to novels on old cassette tapes while on a cross-country road trip with my grandparents. We whiled away the miles, entertained by the adventures of Dirk Pitt in Clive Cussler thrillers.

The days of cassette tapes and Walkmans are long gone, but audiobooks are here to stay. Digital has replaced ancient analog and offers many features that make listening to books on the go or around the house easy.

Now audiobooks can be streamed or downloaded to your computer or smartphone, often for free. Hoopla and OverDrive are two digital content providers that have a large selection of audiobooks. Douglas County Libraries (DCL) patrons have access to both services with a current library card. The services require using an app or website to access content (see related story page 4).

Hoopla is primarily a streaming service. There is no waiting or hold function in Hoopla; if you can see the title, it is available. After borrowing, Hoopla offers the option to download for listening anytime or anywhere. Like traditional book formats, audio titles can be loaned for up to 21 days. Titles are automatically unavailable after the checked-out period expires.

OverDrive functions differently; it’s a download service. DCL purchases several digital copies per title and just like print materials, if they are all checked out, they are available to place on hold. When a digital title is available to borrow, it is downloaded to your device and then available for up to three weeks, after which it is automatically returned. Each DCL card linked to OverDrive has a monthly limit of 20 borrowed materials and 20 holds.

Both Hoopla and OverDrive have similar useful in-app features. Customizable bookmarking, speed control, and sleep timers are a few options. Each service also includes a quick jump forward or back (in 15 second increments) with a single tap of the screen as well as swipe features to jump more quickly through the story. Apps for Hoopla and OverDrive include preference settings and automatic recommendations based on saved preferences. Both services also include special sections for children’s literature.

Hands-free reading and audiobooks can enlighten and entertain while working out, driving, cleaning, cooking or running errands. Next time you’re itching to read a good book but think you’re too busy, pull out your phone and give audiobooks a try.

While we have enjoyed bringing you a book review every month the past few years, we decided to mix things up a bit this year and try something new. Are you in a book club? We’d love to feature your club. Are you a local author working on your first novel? Are you an Audible junkie? Know of any good book swaps? Do you have suggestions for topics you’d like to see discussed? Email



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