The OverDrive library ebook app is shutting down on May 1st

Starting on May 1st, OverDrive app users who still use it to digitally access a library’s collection will need to upgrade to Libby, a newer app from the same company that also lets you rent library ebooks for free.

OverDrive’s digital platform started in 2002 and continued to operate separately even after Libby launched in 2017. OverDrive is often accessed via a library’s own OverDrive website instance, but the app effectively has the same purpose of distributing publisher books digitally for free, just like Libby.

The OverDrive app was removed from the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft Store as of February 23rd, 2022. The company said it started displaying in-app discontinuation messages in July.

Some aspects of the legacy OverDrive experience will live on, as described in this FAQ: those who already have the Mac or Windows desktop versions of OverDrive will still be able to access libraries’ sites to download audiobooks. These books can also be transferred to dedicated MP3 players, keeping them accessible for those who need them — although the company won’t provide any new downloads of the software.

The idea behind ceasing development and shutting down OverDrive is to shift the focus of the company’s development teams to just Libby, according to the company. There was an inherent redundancy in running two apps that did essentially the same thing, and the company says it will make it easier for libraries to promote their digital content and train users.

Libby and OverDrive do have some differences, though, and some features like OverDrive’s Recommend to Library feature will be gone. The company points out that Libby does have a Notify Me feature that can help express interest in specific titles and other features like support for multiple library cards, a unified bookshelf for all loans and holds, compatibility with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, and more.

OverDrive is helping libraries prepare for the transition by sharing an online resource kit to help staff and library goers transition to Libby. US libraries have had to bear the burden of an accelerated digital transition in the past few years due to covid, and both libraries and OverDrive have dealt with pressures from publication powerhouses like Amazon. Now, Libby is one of the few free ways to read and listen to books, which can be an indispensable way of garnering knowledge and a crucial refuge when you need it the most.

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