New Directions in Digital Audiobooks

By Jamie W. RSS Fri, October 27, 2017

The past few years have seen tremendous growth in the popularity of digital audiobooks. And why not? Audiobooks allow you to couple the imaginative, meditative aspects of reading with the relaxing, go-anywhere nature of recorded audio. While ebooks have their adherents and their detractors, audiobooks are undeniably at home in the digital age. In fact, streaming and downloading could the best thing to happen to audiobooks!

As our circulation trends bear out, none of this is news to Free Library cardholders. Digital audiobooks account for about 30% of checkouts from our Overdrive service and over 40% of activity on our Hoopla platform. We're also hard at work improving the selection of digital audiobooks on RBDigital Audiobooks (formerly OneClick Digital).  

Having three platforms for digital audiobooks is great. It allows us to offer you a wide selection of titles and lets our librarians comparison shop to get the best prices for the content we offer. However, if you want a specific audiobook, it can be tricky to know which platform will have it. 

Your first stop for digital audiobooks (and ebooks, print books, DVDs, and pretty much anything else) should always be our online catalog. All of our Overdrive and RBDigital content is available through the catalog and we are in the process of adding Hoopla titles. As this project progresses over the next several weeks, you will have a one-stop shop for digital audiobooks. 

Overdrive, Hoopla, and RBDigital also each have their own mobile apps. While these apps are essential for listening to the audiobooks you checkout, searching for titles within any of them will only show you a portion of what we offer. So for the widest selection, head to our catalog. 

As a reminder, our Overdrive and RBDigital platforms allow you to checkout up to 6 items at a time. Starting November 1, 2017, you can also check out 4 titles a month from Hoopla (Note: this is a change from the current limit of 10 Hoopla items a month, but the new limit will allow us to offer a very exciting new resource beginning in November—stay tuned for that announcement here on our blog next week!).   

We hope you continue to enjoy all the audiobooks we provide. Remember, each of these platforms, like all of the digital content we offer, is available without late fees, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—and at no cost to you—with your library card!

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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Please, please, please let it be Kanopy! Love you guys.
SR OBrien
Friday, October 27, 2017

I love borrowing audiobooks from the Free Library -- but did not know about the other two platforms. Thanks for the update and keeping working on it. It is greatly appreciated.
Lutfiyah - Philadelphia, and the US
Saturday, October 28, 2017

Aw, pretty bummed to hear that the Hoopla limit is being reduced - and reduced so dramatically.
Jenn - Philadelphia
Monday, October 30, 2017

Thank you so much for adding Kanopy! This library is the greatest.
SR OBrien
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What a blow to see Hoopla's limit reduced so drastically this month. It's been so beneficial to have it. Please consider raising it again.
R Smith - Philadelphia
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

I am very disappointed that the Hoopla limit was changed from 10 items to 4 items, and not all that excited about selection of movies of Kanopy. If it came down to being able to afford all of these programs, I'd rather stick with Hoopla. They have a much larger catalog.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

I am very disappointed in this decision by the library my main interest in hoopla was getting movies getting them right away not having to wait for 6 weeks like it takes me at the library I'm not interested in audio books or e-books this is very disappointing please raise that limit up to 10 again
Francis X.Young - Phila.
Thursday, November 2, 2017

My main interest is audio books. I already can stream movies through online streaming services I subscribe to, many of us have cut cable and use Amazon or Netflix. The reduction in Hoopla checkouts, which I use for audio books, in order to add another movie streaming service, while new items are so rarely added to the Overdrive audio book selection recently and the hold lines are so long with Overdrive, is severely disappointing. As an out-of-state patron who has paid for several years to access e-library material I am finding less that is exciting about what FLP has to offer in audio books. I realize it must be difficult to please everyone, but please spread some love to those of us who enjoy the audio book selections.
Saturday, November 4, 2017

I joined The Free Library because of the the great online reviews and comments about how great the audio book collection was for the out of state fee. Hoopla limits being one of the biggest selling points for me due to the fact my own library did this, cut the limit on Hoopla to 4. I listen to books instead of watching t.v. so putting in a streaming movie service is worthless to me. 4 books will not even last me a week, maybe 3 days considering I just listened to 3 books in 2 days. Needless to say, you have lost a parton as I will not be renewing my card.
Kitty - Out of State
Monday, November 6, 2017

I joined The Free Library for a greater access to books, audiobooks in particular. I have no desire to add another film streaming service to the ones I subscribe to now. Reducing the number of books I am allowed to checkout via Hoopla greatly reduces the value of my library card. If the number of checkouts remain under ten, I will not renew my card next year.
J. Rolling
Friday, November 10, 2017

Please raise Hoopla's limit back up. I only use it for audiobooks and ebooks. I have no interest in videos. Four little titles makes it hardly worth using the service.
Sunday, November 12, 2017

You guys are awesome at the Free Library for all the amazing resources you provide, so thank you! But I have to agree that 4 items a month is a pretty drastic change from 10. I too mostly use Hoopla for audiobooks and don't care as much about the movies. Please, please, please consider raising the number of hoopla checkouts again!!
AnaG - South Philly
Thursday, January 4, 2018

I've just discovered online Audio books. I put in a request for hold and I'm # 14 of 15. But I don't understand how digital book holds work? And I can't find info on site (I tried). Do you need to stream the book or do you download it and is there a length of time you need to finish it? Thanks for help.
Steve - Queen Village
Monday, April 16, 2018

Hi Steve - that depends on which platform you want to use. If you have placed your hold on an audiobook from Overdrive or RBDigital, you will be able to download it or stream it once your hold is available. You will need to download the app or software from the platform for downloading. You may also want to take a look at our collection of audiobooks on the Hoopla platform. These are streaming audiobooks that play right from your browser (though Hoopla also offers an app). The nice thing about Hoopla is that there are no holds. All the titles on the platform are always available. You will find all of our audiobooks from all the platforms by searching in our catalog. However, you can also search each platform directly. Find links to our digital media platforms on our digital media page:
Jamie W - Philadelpnia
Tuesday, April 17, 2018