Free audiobooks and ebooks in NC!

Live in North Carolina? Have a library card? Own a Mac or Windows PC? Optionally, do you have an iPhone, iPod, some other portable MP3\WMA player, a Kindle, Nook or Android device? Then you have access to the North Carolina Digital Library! Just click here to go to the site. All you need to create an “account” is your library card: click on the “Account” link, choose your county library from the drop-down list and enter your library card number when prompted.


You’ll have to download and install something called the OverDrive Media Console, but so far I’ve found it to be remarkably well-behaved for this kind of software. Once installed, you can go to a book’s page and click the “Borrow” button. You’ll be prompted for the type of file you want (in many cases, both WMA and MP3 files are available). You then download a small *.ODM file, which you open with OverDrive, which automagically downloads the audiobook(s) you want, much like the Amazon MP3 Downloader.

Part of the reason the OverDrive software is so well-behaved (for me) is that I’ve only downloaded mp3 audiobooks, which by definition cannot have DRM (I once saw a hilarious “this is why people pirate” webcomic where a guy recounted his real-life troubles with downloading content from his library, which ended with him downloading it from The Pirate Bay instead. I can’t seem to find the comic again, but this one from The Oatmeal is pretty similar and The Oatmeal is hilarious, so go read that and come back. I’ll wait.).

You’re supposed to delete any file(s) you’ve downloaded after a certain number of days, and OverDrive will do that automatically if you open the software after a book’s due date. But here’s the thing: all OverDrive does is copy mp3 files to a “My Media” folder in your Documents folder. If one were to, say, copy the mp3s to a different location, one could (theoretically) keep the files forever. Not that I would ever do such a thing… I’m just pointing it out to you. And if that’s a bit close to straight-up piracy for you, note that the OverDrive software will (in many cases) allow you to burn the files to audio CD or copy them to a portable player:


I don’t know anything about how the NC Digital Library handles ebooks… because quite frankly I’d rather have my eyes gouged out than read a book on my PC, phone or netbook. As tech-friendly as I am, I’m not even excited about Kindles or Nooks, either. So I really can’t help you there. I just know that ebooks are available in Kindle, OverDrive READ and Adobe EPUB formats, so if your device can handle those, knock yourself out.

One last thing: if the book you want is “out” – and many appear to be – you can place a “hold” for it, and the library will email you when the book is available for download.

One Reply to “Free audiobooks and ebooks in NC!”

  1. For those who ARE interested in eBooks, a search one the phrases “calibre” and “apprentice alf” will solve many of the same issues you discuss here. Personally, I find audiobooks to be too maddeningly slow for anything other than the worst commute and am exclusively Kindle. My wife has a Nook and the aforementioned Calibre has been great in cross-conversion of the (very) few mutually interesting eBooks in my collection.

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