The ODM file format, an abbreviation for OverDrive Media file, is associated primarily with audiobooks and digital media content that is borrowed from libraries and educational institutions. This file type is commonly used in conjunction with OverDrive's media services, which offer a broad catalog of digital books, audiobooks, and videos. The ODM file itself isn't the actual media content but acts as a control file that allows software to download and license the corresponding media responsibly.
Historical Context of the ODM Filetype
Introduced by OverDrive, Inc., a digital distributor of entertainment media, the ODM format was developed to cater to the growing demand for digital lending services. The evolution of the ODM file paralleled the increasing popularity of e-books and audiobooks, providing a gateway to digital borrowing that mirrored the physical borrowing experience from libraries.
How ODM Files Operate
To access content through an ODM file, users must employ compatible software, typically OverDrive's own applications such as the OverDrive Media Console or Libby. When an ODM file is opened in these applications, it triggers the download and licensing process, ultimately allowing the user to play or read the borrowed media.
The primary software for handling ODM files is OverDrive's applications. However, since ODM is designed for borrowing digital content, once downloaded, the actual media file (like an MP3 for audiobooks) can be played on various devices and players that support the media's format.
Alternatives to the ODM File Format
While the ODM format is specific to OverDrive's services, there are alternative systems for digital lending including cloud-based platforms like Hoopla and Sora, which cater to library and school markets. These platforms have their own methods of digital rights management and do not use the ODM file format. For direct purchase, consumers can turn to platforms such as Audible or iTunes, which offer proprietary formats for digital media ownership rather than lending.