Overdrive(n) to despair

readinglist by wsmith via flickr CC

This is not meant to be a rant about Overdrive, more a discussion of my experiences (ok, frustrations) navigating this e-landscape.  I haven’t really taken up the e-books challenge yet, I like physical books, I love audio books and don’t really have a ‘need’ at this point to outlay for an e-reader.  I get all the arguments for and against, I really do, and I can see a future with an e-book reader, but at this point I’d rather spend the money on something else.

I’ve had a few forays into Kindle for the iPhone, and apart from the iPhone screen being too small for serious or long term reading, have found that to be a very positive experience.

However, my main interest at this point is audio books (well, it’s always been an interest as has already been discussed here) as I have some bus travel in my daily commute to work and I can’t ‘read’ on a bus due to travel sickness.

I prefer to borrow my audio books rather than buy them and my local library has an Overdrive service that I use regularly.  However, as most of the audio books in Overdrive seem to be in wma format, they can’t be downloaded to my Mac laptop. Before the Mac, I used to download them to my (Windows) laptop, then transfer them to my iPod or, more recently, my iPhone.

Now, I can only use audio books in mp3 format and that’s about 10% of the audio book collection on offer. I’ve given up on the Mac version of Overdrive and now download them via the iPhone app direct to my device – which method I had been avoiding because of the previously mentioned limitations on format….

I also can’t return them when I’m finished with them, which means they sit on my account (and therefore unavailable to anyone else) for the full 21 days, in spite of the fact that it only takes me about 7 to get through an average audio book (I know that sounds like I do nothing but listen to books, but in my new job I am commuting up to 3 hours every day). If anyone knows of a way to make that happen by the way, please, please let me know in the comments!

There is of course an up side to all of this.  I have to have an audio book to listen to, and because my choice is so limited I’m listening to a lot of books I probably would not have normally chosen, in genres that wouldn’t normally be my preference.  I think this is a good thing.  I’ve only given up on an audio book once, whereas I give up on print books easily if they are not grabbing me or I become bored with the story.  This is also a good thing. (The only reason I gave up on the audio book in question was the narrator’s voice – drove me crazy).

Am I getting something wrong? To use (another) of my favourite phrases: Is it just me?