OverDrive FAQs

1. What is an eBook?


An eBook is an electronic copy of a book that can be read on the screen of your computer or a portable eReader device, tablet, or smartphone.



2. What do I need in order to check out and download eBooks from SJCPLS?


To check out eBooks from SJCPLS, you need the following:

  • An SJCPLS library card in good standing (less than $10.00 in fines)
  • A computer or mobile device with an Internet connection
  • A free software program or mobile app may be required, depending on your device:

Adobe Digital Editions software program
(for downloading and reading eBooks on a Windows or Mac computer; also needed to transfer eBooks to some eReader devices, including the Barnes & Noble Nook)

OverDrive Media Console mobile app
(for downloading and reading eBooks on a mobile device;
available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone / iPad, and Windows Phone 7)


Amazon Kindle / Kindle App users do not need any additional software or apps, but you must have an Amazon.com account.



3. Are there tutorials on using OverDrive?


Yes! Go to OverDrive’s Help Page for short step-by-step videos.



4. Does my library card have to be from SJCPLS to check out eBooks?


Yes, an SJCPLS library card in good standing is required, this includes those with a Non-Resident Card which can be obtained by paying a non-refundable annual fee of $40 or a quarterly fee of $10.



5. What types of eBooks does the library offer? Are they all old classics?


SJCPLS offers a wide variety of eBooks for all ages and reading tastes. You can find many of the latest releases, your favorite genres such as mysteries, romance, science fiction, cookbooks, biographies, as well as eBook collections just for kids and teens. Yes, there are "old classics" like those offered by many online eBook sites, but with your SJCPLS library card, you have access to so much more, all for free!



6. How do I find out if the specific title I want is available as an eBook?


The easiest way is to click on Advanced Search at the top of the SJCPLS Digital Media site. You can search for a title, author, format, or keyword. 



7. Why isn't my favorite book available as an eBook? Can you order it?


Unfortunately, not all publishers make their eBooks available to libraries. If you would like to request a specific title, please fill out the ILL & Materials Request Form, being sure to select “ebook” in the Material Format box. We would be happy to consider your suggestion.



8. How many eBooks can I check out at a time?


You can check out a total of 5 items at a time from the SJCPLS digital media collection. Please note that this total includes any combination of both eBooks and eAudiobooks.



9. How long can I keep an eBook that I check out from the library?


The default checkout period for eBooks is 14 days, but if you prefer, you can choose 7 day. You can adjust your default checkout period for future checkouts by logging into My Digital Account and selecting the Lending Periods link.



10. What happens when the eBook is "due"? How do I "return" it to the library?


Once the checkout period for your eBook is over, the eBook file will automatically "expire" and you will no longer be able to access it on your computer or eReader device. There is no need to "return" it to the library (and no worrying about overdue fines!)


Please note that even though you can no longer open the eBook once it has expired, the eBook file itself may still be stored on your computer or eReader device. You may want to check the instructions for your particular device to find out how to delete files in order to open up storage space for other titles.



11. Can I return an eBook early if I'm finished with it?


Yes, you can return an eBook early. Doing so will be appreciated by other customers who may be waiting for that particular title, and it also may help you stay under the 5-item digital collection checkout limit. For specific instructions on how to return eBooks early, go to the SJCPLS Digital Media site and select your device for step-by-step instructions.



12. Can I renew an eBook if I'm not done with it yet?


There renewing a digital item such as an eBook is not an option. However, you may log back into the SJCPLS Digital Media site and download the title again immediately if no else is waiting for it, or place a hold on the title if there are no copies currently available.



13. Why do I have to place a hold for an eBook? If these are electronic, why aren't there unlimited copies available?


Most publishers require that library eBooks are offered to only one person per copy at a time, similar to how physical books are checked out. They believe this restriction helps maintain their profitability, as unlimited eBooks available for free from the library would hurt sales of their eBooks through commercial sites.



14. How many eBooks can I place on hold at a time?


You may place up to 5 items on hold at a time from the SJCPLS Digital Media collection. Please note that this total includes any combination of both eBooks and eAudiobooks, but is completely separate from the hold limit for physical library items.



15. How will I know when my eBook hold is available for me?


When an OverDrive eBook title you have placed on hold becomes available, you will receive an email at the email address you specified when placing the hold. You will then have 3 days (72 hours) from the time the email is sent to log in to the SJCPLS Digital Media site and checkout and download your eBook. If you do not checkout your eBook within the 3-day timeframe, your hold will be cancelled and the title will be sent to the next person on the hold list.





16. I don't want to wait — how do I find eBooks that are available now, with no holds?


To find eBooks that are immediately available, with no hold list, make sure to check the box labeled "Only show titles with available copies" when searching the SJCPLS Digital Media site.



17. Is there a way to keep track of which eBooks I've already read?


Neither SJCPLS nor OverDrive (our eBook service provider) keeps record of which digital items you have previously downloaded. However, you may find it helpful to go back to each title's page on the SJCPLS Digital Media site after you finish it and give it a rating (1 to 5 stars). You will then be able to select the "Rated Titles" link in the "My Digital Account" section to display a list of the titles you have rated (and therefore read) in the past. 



18. Can I download library eBooks to my Kindle / Nook / iPad / other eReader device?


Yes, you can download library eBooks to many popular eReader devices, including Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and more. Please check OverDrive's Device Resource Center for a complete list of compatible devices. For instructions on how to download library eBooks to various eReader devices, please see our eBooks & eReader Help page.



19. I heard that library books don't work on the Amazon Kindle. Is this true?


Library eBooks were previously unavailable for the Amazon Kindle due to the proprietary file format used by Amazon. However, as of September 2011, Kindle eBooks are now available through OverDrive. Simply choose the Kindle Book format under the eBook you select. Note that some eBooks in the Kindle format require a USB connection which means they cannot be downloaded via Wi-Fi.



20. How do I download eBooks to my eReader?


Please see our eBooks & eReader Help page for step-by-step guides to downloading library eBooks to a variety of popular eReader devices.



21. Can I download eBooks at the library using the library computers?


Unfortunately, you cannot download eBooks using the public computers in our library due to software security restrictions. However, if you are able to bring your own laptop, tablet, or smartphone to the library, you are welcome to use our free high-speed wireless internet to download eBooks onto your own device.



22. What is the difference between Kindle aBooks, EPUB eBooks, and PDF eBooks?


Kindle Books are specifically formatted for use by the Amazon Kindle and Kindle apps. Please select this format if you wish to read the eBook on one of these devices. They are not compatible with any other eReader.


EPUB eBooks have reflowable text, which means that if you resize the text or change the font of the eBook, the text will "reflow" to fill the screen. This makes EPUB eBooks the optimal choice for reading eBooks on small screens. 


PDF eBooks preserve the layout of complex documents, including any charts and illustrations. However, because of this they do not "reflow" their text as well as EPUB eBooks. Therefore, you may notice page breaks in odd places when reading these eBooks on an eReader device. Because they are not optimized for small screens, PDF eBooks cannot be downloaded using the OverDrive Media Console for mobile devices. 


Check OverDrive's Device Resource Center to see what formats are compatible with your particular device. (Note that EPUB and PDF eBooks are not compatible with the Amazon Kindle.)



23. What do I do if I receive an error message or need help?


Fill out this online form or contact your local branch.

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