I don’t know about you, but since none of my rich uncles have decided to die and leave me untold fortunes (I don’t think I even have a rich uncle) I’m always open to exploring affordable ways to get my hands on books and audio books! Recently I’ve been trying two apps my local library subscribes to, hoopla and OverDrive.
If you haven’t heard of them before, basically both apps are designed to give library patrons access to thousands of free ebooks, audiobooks, and more. If your local library subscribes to these two popular “vendors”, all you need is your library card and a device to get started. Each app is a little bit different though, so today I’m going to share a few of the pros and cons I’ve noticed as I’ve tried them out, particularly in regards to downloading/streaming Christian fiction.
First off, hoopla.
Your library pays a small fee every time you borrow an item through hoopla, which means the vendor is motivated to have a really good variety of books available in the hopes you will find what you want and digitally “check it out.” As a result, the selection on here is fantastic– even with the less popular Christian fiction genre. I’ve found semi obscure books like Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, for example, or the futuristic The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley. Personally, the selection alone makes this app my favorite of the two options we’re looking at today! Some other thoughts:
- There’s no way to search “Christian Fiction” and just see a mix of that genre, which makes it more difficult to discover new titles and authors.
- I can’t find any way to recommend titles be added to the collection if they don’t have what I want.
- All the books I’ve looked at have a loan period of 21 days.
- You can “favorite” an item to come back to it later if you don’t want to borrow it now
- At the end of the loan period the item is “returned” and removed from your device if you downloaded it
- Limited borrows (may not be an issue depending on your library.) Through my library I am allowed to check out up to five items per month.
Each library or school that utilizes OverDrive picks the digital content they want for their users, so the selection available to you may be far better or worse than mine. More than likely, this is directly correlated with budgeting, so in my case I’m not surprised that it’s difficult to find anything but the most well known Christian fiction authors. On the upside, you can recommend an item for purchase and will be emailed if the item is added to the collection. Also:
- In a roundabout way I can search Christian fiction; after bringing up a Christian fiction title and then clicking on it for more info the app lists the genres it falls into. From there I can click “Christian fiction” to see a selection of similar items
- There are only a certain number of digital copies available of each book—so you might have to wait by putting the item on hold
- Haven’t had any troubles downloading this to any of my android devices, including old nook
- Like hoopla, there are limited borrows allowed. I’m not sure if this varies by library, but for me the limit is 7 items per months.
Both apps are worth looking into if you haven’t used them before. If you have, which do you prefer? What did you like (or not?)