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Digital Media: Which App Is For You?

I absolutely LOVE my digital libraries. The Houston Library subscribes to several digital catalogs, and I definitely could not do all my reading without them! They make my life much simpler and wait times much, much shorter – because waiting 5 months for a book is incredibly frustrating. But with so many options, you can have it all now. The only question is, which app are you going to use? Or will you use several? For each title I have on my TBR list, I pretty much have a clear plan in mind on where I’ll be borrowing – whether from the library itself, or as an audiobook, or as an eBook. My choice of digital catalog is primarily dependent on if an audiobook is available and the wait time for the title I’m looking for, but there are pros and cons to each app available. Here, I’ll be reviewing the 4 main digital catalogs my library uses: Overdrive, Hoopla, Axis 360 and One Click Digital.

**UPDATE**

After publishing this post, I have since discovered my library had a “secret” audio copy of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas on One Click Digital! I say “secret” because **shockingly** there weren’t any holds on the audiobook! One Click Digital definitely deserves a little more credit in this post, and spread the word – there might be more treasures to find there!

If you have any tips or tricks for these apps, please share! Which is your favorite?

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Overdrive Pros:

  • Audiobooks and eBooks available.
  • You can borrow an unlimited amount per month.
  • You can borrow up to ten items at time.
  • Using the advanced search, you can search by subject or genre, format, language, awards, reading level, and availability. Being able to search titles immediately available is definitely what keeps bringing me back to Overdrive.
  • Overdrive’s audiobook player is the best! They have a wide range of playback speeds, a sound boost, and a searchable index of chapters.
  • Can listen to an audiobook while downloading.
  • You can download Kindle eBooks.

Overdrive Cons:

  • Very popular, so there can be a longer wait time for popular titles.
  • App can be a little slow and a search will take you a few minutes to scroll through – it’s a multiple page process.
  • Does not show page lengths.
  • Pop ups when you bookmark a title or put a title on hold or borrow – it can get in the way and is pretty annoying!

 

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Hoopla Pros:

  • More content available: audiobooks, eBooks, movies, television, music and comics!
  • All titles available NOW!
  • They have a lot of popular titles available – even cookbooks!
  • App is set up similar to Netflix and very easy to use.
  • Borrow time for eBooks and audiobooks is 21 days!
  • Chromecast button -straight to your TV in a blink of an eye.
  • Faster download times.
  • Shows page lengths and time lengths right below the title – no scrolling or searching for this vital information.
  • Hoopla’s reading app is very easy to use and works just like Kindle.

Hoopla Cons:

  • You can only borrow 8 titles a month (this is for all digital formats). But, your borrowing time is 21 days, so your checkouts can overlap.
  • Audio player is not so great – limited playback speeds, does not automatically start playing when you resume (you have push play a few times), no sound boost, and no chapter index. You can only fast-forward or rewind, so switching between a book and an audiobook on Hoopla is very tedious.
  • Cannot listen to an audiobook as it downloads.
  • Their recommendations make no sense. I can check historical fiction all I want, but they’ll never show any recs from my favorite genre.

 

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Axis 360 Pros:

  • Only eBooks available through my library.
  • Lots of titles available and shorter wait times. Their app shows the number of holds as well as an estimated wait time.
  • Unlimited checkouts during the month.
  • Brand new titles available!
  • Set up is similar to Hoopla – visually pleasing, fast download time, fast app.
  • Best recommendations by an app! They actually recommend titles I’d like to read based on what I’m looking at.
  • It has ALL the subgenres listed. You’ll find what you’re looking for here, and quickly.

Axis 360 Cons:

  • In app reader is kind of terrible. It never resumes at the right spot (unless you bookmark your place, but that’s more for notating and highlighting) and it always resumes at the largest text size? It’s pretty frustrating. Plus, it does this highly animated page flip that’s really slow and very unnecessary.
  • Does not show page lengths or anything more than a very short summary.

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 One Click Digital Pros:

  • There are no holds – all titles available immediately! Including (at my library, at least) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
  • Great audio quality, probably the best out of all the apps. No echo!
  • For audiobooks, a chapter list is available to skip ahead or go back – super easy to navigate.

One Click Digital Cons:

  • The app is overall, a little more complicated to navigate. Once in the listing area of your checked-out titles, the only way back to the main menu area is to click “search” at the bottom. And then, you must type in your password each time and it’s easy to accidentally go back to your checked-out materials to repeat the process many times…
  • There are no options when it comes to playback speed on audiobooks. I tried – the option is mentioned in the tutorial, but I was never able to find the actual button for it. My app is updated, I pressed every menu option – if you’ve found it, PLEASE share your secrets!
  • Not the greatest selection of available titles, but as mentioned above, there are a few hidden gems.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely love Overdrive and Hoopla for their accessibility and ease of use, but these days I’ve been favoring Hoopla for audiobooks and Axis 360 for eBooks. Even though their reader could be better, my issues are easily trumped by the shorter waiting periods. I’m just not patient enough for Overdrive anymore, even though their audio player is by far the best of the bunch.

Which is your favorite? Do you have any tips or tricks?

 

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