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e-Books guide

Everything you need to know about finding and using e-books in our Library and beyond.

Do I need an e-book reader?

You don't need to use a commercial e-book reader to use e-books from our Library's collection.

You can view them on any computer or mobile device (smart phones, tablets, etc.) that displays PDF documents and has a suitable screen size for viewing pages of text.

If you want to read e-books on a mobile device, there may be an app to help you. Some major e-book publishers produce free apps for iPad, Android and Blackberry.                                                                                                                   

Which e-reader should I use?

We don't provide recommendations for specific brands of e-book readers. If you are interested in buying an e-book reader, there are many websites that describe the range of available devices and review them. Try the Wikipedia article on e-book readers for a description and comparison of some of the most popular readers. See also the Ebook reader buying guide: Everything you need to know before buying an e-reader from the Choice Magazine.

How do e-book readers work?

E-book readers provide a high contrast between text and the screen background, which makes them easier on the eyes. They are thin and portable, with low power consumption and long battery life. They are also designed to store a large number of e-books, allowing you to create your own e-book 'library'.

There are some limitations to using e-book readers. Publishers who produce both e-books and e-book readers want to protect their e-books from being copied and shared without purchase, and so produce e-books in a file format than cannot be used on another company's e-reader. For example, you cannot view an Amazon e-book on a Sony e-reader because it has been produced as an Amazon-formatted file. This is known as Digital Rights Management (DRM).    

Adobe Digital Editions

If you are using your own computer or mobile device to download an e-book to read offline, you will need to install particular e-book viewing software.  Most of our main e-book platforms will work with Adobe Digital Editions. 

If you are using a PC or Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device:

Downloaded e-books can also be transferred to any portable e-book reader that supports Adobe Digital Editions. If you are using an e-book reader, it is recommended that you download the EPUB format, rather than the PDF, which automatically re-sizes to fit your screen on any device.

Free e-books for readers

There are many free e-books that you can download to your e-reader without restrictions. If you are interested in looking at free e-books, try these websites:

  • Project Gutenberg - offers a huge archive of digitised books that are out of copyright, in html and text formats
  • Internet Archive - contains more than a million e-books
  • Feedbooks - includes books that are out of copyright as well as new e-books by authors who have offered their work for free.