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Downloading ebooks may require additional software or creating an account


zoom capabilities of an ereader. Picture created by Flickr user Andrew Mason and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

March 28, 2013 – All of our ebook packages allow you to read their ebooks while you are online through your web browser; no special device like a Kindle is required. (Many do work with ereaders like Nooks and Kindles; see the right sidebar for information.) Downloading these ebooks so you can read them offline, however, may require additional steps on your part.

Most of our ebook providers supply their ebooks as PDFs (often one PDF per chapter). You can download these PDFs just like downloading an online article. You can then keep and use the PDF forever. We purchase ebooks from these providers whenever possible.

Not all ebooks work this easily.

The three largest providers of ebooks, Ebooks on EBSCOhost , EBL ebooks , and ebrary , do not supply their ebooks as PDFs. Each uses Digital Rights Management (DRM) to control access to their ebooks. These ebooks can be downloaded, but they typically require additional software and that you create a profile account on the site so that the ebooks you download will be connected to your account for the duration of their use: a duration that can expire within days, ending access to that ebook. For instance, to download an ebook from EBSCOhost, you will need to first create a profile account on the site. The profile is free, but required before you can download anything.

These same providers also often limit access to a given ebook to one or three simultaneous users. If a given ebook is being read by its limit of users, you'll get a message that the ebook is in use and cannot be accessed until one of the current users is done (that could take minutes or days). If this is the case, you should be given the option of "placing a hold" on the book through your profile account (that you may then need to create) so that you will be notified when the book is free. We purchase either unlimited access or multiple-user access whenever possible.

Most of the ebook providers that use DRM with their ebooks require you install Adobe Digital Editions which manages access to your downloads. DRM ebooks can also severely limit your ability to copy and paste text and print pages. Each provider's restrictions vary; we list these restrictions on our ebook pages.