How to Listen to Downloadable Audiobooks in Your Car

The following directions are meant to assist library patrons in downloading and playing eAudiobooks for road trips and commutes. Everyone will have a different combination of personal device and car stereo system, so testing out the ability of your device to play on your vehicle before a big trip is advisable.

While you can check out eAudiobooks directly from the library web site, many will not play without a log-in to their host site (Overdrive, the Libby app, or Hoopla). Follow the steps below for audiobook listening success, and prepare in advance to avoid distracted driving.

Step One: The Listening Device

Choose the device you plan to use to store and play your eAudiobook by downloading the Hoopla or Libby app. You'll need your library card number and password/pin to access the library's collection. If you've never changed your library card password/pin, it's CHANGEME.

While many patrons find it easiest to download audiobooks to their cell phones, this may be a problem if you plan to use your cell phone as a GPS or mapping tool on the same trip. If that is the case, make a plan to use a tablet or another passenger's phone to store your audiobook.

Be mindful that the device you choose must also have enough storage for the downloaded content. Deleting some pictures from your gallery will usually free up space for an audiobook file. Make sure that deleted files that hang out in your trash folders are emptied.

Step Two: The Car

Think about how you would like to play the audiobook in your vehicle. Consider the capabilities of your device (typically a phone, but tablets work as well) and how it will connect to your car.

While many cars made in the last decade allow phones and tablets to connect to their stereo systems via blue tooth, you'll still want to test the connection in advance. In some older cars with blue tooth connectivity, the audio from your device may only connect with blue tooth during phone calls, so make sure to try a test run with some downloadable audio before your trip.

A simple aux cable available at many stores (and even gas stations!) may connect a cell phone or tablet that also has an aux audio port. If your car stereo has a setting or button that says "Aux", then an aux cable input does exist - you just have to find it! Sometimes stereo aux connections in cars are hidden in the center front arm rest storage compartment or in the glove box, but typically this port for audio connection will be somewhere on the center stereo panel. You may recognize the aux cable connection to your car or device as a headphone jack. If your car is truly old school, you may need to purchase an adapter like this one for cassette players. 

If you have an older car but a newer device, a bluetooth transmitter that plugs into an aux port may be the solution to connecting downloaded audio to your car's stereo. These types of transmitters can be found at stores for electronics and music equipment, and sometimes at large department stores.

Step Three: The Selection

Choose an audiobook to download. Browse on Libby or Hoopla to find what you need, or use this library website. Patrons are allowed ten no-wait downloads per month from Hoopla, but Overdrive and the Libby app usually have more recent content for grown-up listeners. If you are just starting with Overdrive/Libby, it's best to place a few holds and get a wait list rolling. Many patrons use Hoopla while waiting their turn for high demand Overdrive titles. 

If you are overwhelmed by the size of Fulton County Public Library's collection of available eAudiobooks (we have one of the best selections in the state!), our librarians have prepared some helpful guides by drive time. You can also browse Overdrive titles by subject.

Step Four: The Pre-Trip Test

Once you have downloaded an audiobook to the device you plan to use on your trip, test the connection with your car stereo. You will want to set up your blue tooth or aux connection in advance to minimize confusion in the car on the day of your trip, as sometimes it can take a bit to get everything synced up. Take some time to sit in the driveway and fiddle with your device and stereo connections until you feel comfortable with the playback of your eAudiobook. To avoid distracted driving, it's best to let a passenger be in charge of the audiobook so the driver can focus on the road.

If you can now hear your eAudiobook download inside your vehicle, congrats! If not, check out the troubleshooting tips below.

Troubleshooting Tips for Listening to Audiobooks in the Car

Problem: I checked out an eAudiobook on the library website, but it won't play on my device.

Common solution: Due to copyright restrictions, many of our eAudiobooks will only play through their lending service - Overdrive and the Libby app, or Hoopla. Log in to these sites or apps on your device and your audiobook selection will be on "shelf" in the Libby app or under "My Hoopla >current borrows" in Hoopla. You can also borrow titles directly through these services. You'll need your library card number and password/pin to access the library's collection. If you've never changed your library card password/pin, it's CHANGEME.

Problem: There's a buzzing sound in the audiobook when playing through the car stereo.

Common solution: Sometimes having the phone or tablet connected to an aux cable and a power cable at the same time can cause a background electronic buzzing noise. Unplug the power cord or stop the audiobook until the device is fully charged. For some devices, turning on "airplane mode" will cause the device to drain charge more slowly, or build up power reserves faster. Just don't forget to switch "airplane mode" off when you need to receive calls, texts, or device updates.

Problem: I just can't get the connection between my car and device to work.

Common solution: Buy a small portable speaker that will play audio from your chosen device. These speakers are commonly found at places like Target and Walmart, and have the benefit of being easy to use around your house as well. Be aware that these speakers will have their own need for power, and stock up on batteries or charge cords. Portable speakers vary widely in audio quality, so a very inexpensive portable speaker may not provide the volume or clean sound that you would like. Those made for use in cars are usually best for road trips.

Problem: Alerts on my device keep interrupting the audiobook playback!

Common solution: Put your device in airplane mode, which will stop all alerts. Make sure to turn off airplane mode when you would like to receive texts, calls, and alerts again. If turning off calls and texts is not for you, consider loading your eAudiobook onto a separate device, such as a tablet, that is less critical to communication.

Have another issue not listed here? Try our general troubleshooting tips for Overdrive and Hoopla. Don't let yourself get too frustrated or discouraged! As the CD audiobook format is retired, eAudiobooks are your way forward to library listening.