In this closed-door new world where readers have become the smug go-to gurus of iso entertainment advice, may we point you in the direction of your App store.
If your local council library service is modern and amazing like mine, you will have a whole host of options with which to nab the latest titles before all the book plodders (those who insist on only reading from the printed page) twig to their release. It is possible to spend as much time trying to source a particular title through all the technology avenues now available to you than actually reading the book itself – and we are ALL onboard with that in this time of pando.
The five applications listed below will work for your iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet, and all but Audible are best first discovered via your library web page. Not all libraries support all Apps, so a spot of googling now will save you a bit of cursing later on.
Overdrive is the industry standard for our library ebook reading. If you can only be bothered learning one App, Overdrive will service your needs perfectly well.
OverDrive is easy to navigate, with both library ebooks and audio books available. Can also be used to download and store files locally (such as you would say in Bluefire Reader). Recently the App has been upgraded with the option for you to defer your holds as they become available, should you not be ready to read them just yet.
Not as easy on the eye as other Apps, OverDrive does though have nice big tiles of featured titles on the front page which are always worth a quick browse before you dive in.
Overdrive has a slightly more cutesy companion App, Libby, which you might want to check out also.
BorrowBox is an Australian library ebook and audio book application devised by the team at Bolinda Digital. I can say that my happiest book browsing experiences always seem to be when using this App.
The front page of BorrowBox is useful in that it shows both your current ebook and audio book loans on top of your current reserves and loan history. So if you’ve had to let a title go, you will quickly be able to identify it in ‘loan history’ to borrow again or hold. The intuitive book suggestions are incredibly helpful also.
For CarPlay users, it will let you Bluetooth over but does not show as a separate tile on your car’s screen. If you hit play on your phone before you plug in the USB to your car, the audio book will show up as audio tracks on display. For Apple Watch users, it should have limited functionality in sync with your iPhone (disclaimer: on my Apple Watch Series 3 though this has never actually synced successfully, so hopefully users of newer models are able to).
A close runner up to BorrowBox, Cloud Library has the same features with a few other nifty options such as being able to customize your front page colours. If you like a large font on your iPhone, the display does a bit of a messy overlap but it is still functional.
Cloud Library offers library ebooks and audio books.
RB Digital has gone through a few changes over the years and offers library audio books, magazines and a limited selection of ebooks. I occasionally use RB Digital for audio books but mostly for reading current issue magazines.
The best feature of this App is that when you borrow a magazine, it gives you the option of receiving an email to let you know when the next issue is out. Handy!
A good re-vamp of the aesthetics is required – getting tired of seeing so much red – but other than that, RB Digital deserves its place on your device for magazine access alone.
Yes, this is a subscription service and not used by your free library systems but remains the gold standard platform for your audio book purchases.
Audible has all the latest releases and offers various subscription plans which start from one audio book download a month. Audible members can pause their membership if the books are starting to stack up, plus receive semi-regular free content such as novellas and podcasts. Some of these free offerings have been terrific (such as true crime long form podcasts) and are a huge carrot for retaining your membership.
Audible seamlessly adds itself to your CarPlay and syncs across from your iPhone to your Apple Watch. You are able to add a book at a time to store on your watch.
Any other book Apps you can recommend? Please let us know!
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Andy is a Perth based reviewer who has been moderating online book clubs and working with not-for-profits since the interwebs were young. Andy contributes to The Blurb on books, streaming TV, movies and Western Australian theatre. She is also a bit obsessed with podcasts.