Hoopla Brings Digital Borrowing to Libraries
This is a sponsored post. I have received compensation and a review account for this post.
I was recently introduced to hoopla, a digital media service available through a number of libraries in North America that allows you to instantly “borrow” digital movies, music, books, audiobooks, and comics using your library card. My local library system unfortunately doesn’t participate, but after getting a chance to try the service, I will definitely encourage them to.
They have apps for iOS and Android, which I appreciated, since I’d rather watch a movie or read an ebook or digital comic on my tablet, although you can also access through the web. I found the iPad app easy to use and navigate. Once you log in, you’re shown your monthly borrowing limit (you can’t have EVERYTHING all at once) as well as areas for Video, Music, Books, and Search. The top left is the help button, conveniently.
Movies and TV (under Video) are sorted by Recommended, Featured, Popular, and Genres. As I expect with a free-to-use service (I believe your library pays for what gets borrowed), there is a bunch of stuff I’ve never heard of, but I also saw items I wanted to check out immediately, like the first season of The Librarians or the movie Begin Again with Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. You can stream or download the item; I find the latter handy for travel.
Recommendation settings allow you to pick the genres that you’re interested in for each format. You can mark items as Favorites if you don’t want to check them out immediately. There’s also a “kids mode” available through the settings if you want to let a child borrow your tablet.
I had less luck finding books I wanted to read, but the real reason I was investigating hoopla was the comics. I saw titles from Archie, Boom!, DC, Dark Horse, IDW, and Image available, often in collected form (although some individual issues were also available). The best-known titles available include Saga, Preacher, The Walking Dead, Sandman, Archie, Watchmen, and lots of media tie-ins, including The Flash, Suicide Squad, and Disney movie books. Plus, of course, your Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
You can read full page (with pinch to zoom) or there’s an Action View feature, which shows panel-by-panel. Checkout times vary based on media — the comic I got was due in 3 weeks, while the TV show episode, I only got 3 days, and the music apparently is good for 7 days — and you can “return” items early (although that doesn’t reset your borrowing count). Quality was excellent.
Hoopla also sends out newsletters promoting various groupings of items. (You can easily turn this off.) “Best Movies of July”, for example, or a really great targeted Comic-Con promotional piece with comic titles, related movies (including the documentary I just reviewed), and Marvel audiobooks. Or the Collections tab in the Comics area allows you to sort by Publisher or Eisner Award winners or Just Added.
The biggest issue I had with the interface was that, before you log in, you can search for your library system to see if they participate. Only the names don’t have states included, so I found a “Madison” but it turned out not to be the one here in Wisconsin. That was confusing. Otherwise, hoopla is a great service for those whose libraries support it.