By now everyone has heard of Hoopla and Overdrive/Libby… or at least most readers and library users have. To put it simply, they’re online libraries that you can use through your hometown public library (if they offer either or both services). Anyone who loves to read ebooks or listen to audiobooks tend to like these services, and they got a lot more use through the 2020 quarantines while libraries were closed to the public.
But what’s the difference between the two? The pros and cons? I’ve only used each one a few times through my job, and each has their strengths and weaknesses.
Overdrive has essentially become Libby by Overdrive, if you want to be technical, but since we got this service years ago at my library, I’ve just called it Overdrive. This one offers ebooks, audiobooks, and magazine titles – many of them of the more recent and popular titles.
- New/Popular Titles: This is obviously a plus for those who like to read the newest thing, or older but still popular titles. Of course, it depends on what your library purchases, but most tend to get the ones that are trending and new.
- Use your Kindle/Nook/etc. – What I personally like about Overdrive is being able to transfer my borrowed titles over to my Kindle account to read on my tablet, rather than my phone. It’s easier than getting the file, downloading it to my computer, and then uploading it to my Nook – which is obviously possible, but takes time. As for audiobooks (if I listen to them) I just use the Overdrive app itself.
- Accessibility features: Overdrive offers features to make your reading life easier, including Dyslexic font, adjustable text size, and adjustable audio speed.
- Wishlist: A nice thing to have for books you see and want to read, but are not ready to borrow or put on hold yet.
- Holds: While it’s no new thing to libraries – having to put a book on hold – with Overdrive/Libby it can sometimes take weeks or months to get a title because so many people are on hold for the title. I’ve gotten holds come in that I completely forgot about because it was such a long wait.
- Compatibility: The Libby app isn’t as compatible with devices as the Overdrive app is, and unfortunately, as of February 2022, the Apple/Google Play stores no longer offer Overdrive to download.
I’m relatively new to Hoopla, as my library only got this back in late March, but so far I’ve liked what I’ve seen on it. Hoopla offers a little more in terms of media than Overdrive, including ebooks, audiobooks, tv shows, movies, comics, and music. However, just like Overdrive, there are some things I love and don’t love about this service.
- No Holds: That’s right! No having to wait for titles to become available. Once you’re ready to read or watch, it’s right there for you. That’s probably my favorite thing about Hoopla.
- Variety of Titles: While they might not have a ton of the latest or trending titles, they do have a great selection, including ones you wouldn’t normally find on Overdrive or even in your town library. I found some titles that I hadn’t seen in years, so you know I saved them to my favorites to check out at a later point.
- Accessibility features: Like Overdrive, Hoopla offers features to make your reading life easier, including Dyslexic font, adjustable text size, and adjustable audio speed.
- Limited Check-outs: Because this service gets expensive for libraries to offer, you only get a limited amount of titles you can check out. Our library only offers five titles a month at the moment, but I know some go up to ten a month. Unless you go through the titles on Hoopla like crazy, five to ten a month seems reasonable to me… but I also don’t read ebooks (or the other media Hoopla offers) as much as other people.
- No Kindle/e-reader Use: Unlike Overdrive/Libby, you cannot send titles to your Kindle or other e-reader devices. You can only read/watch the titles from the Hoopla app itself. To me, it’s a little annoying because I’d rather read on my Nook or Kindle app, but it is what it is.
Again, both services are pretty great, if you ask me. I’ve never really had an issue with either one in the limited amount of times I’ve used them. And so far at work, I’ve only heard good things about both of them from our patrons. We only have gotten complaints about the limited titles per month for Hoopla and we occasionally get the tech-illiterate patron who needs help setting them up (but once it is, all is good).
Honestly, if these companies combined their strengths with each other, they’d make for one hell of a super e-library resource!