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Alternative formats: ebooks & accessibility

Help with ebook Accessibility features

The 'Accessibility' tab below gives advice on how to make the most of ebook features in various formats. 

For further assistance you can request a 1:1 appointment with a member of our Liason team by emailing

E-book Accessibility

Use Library Search to find e-books; the library offers access to thousands, covering a variety of subject areas.

If the book is available electronically, you will see a link to access it, as in the example below. 

Image of library catalogue record "The first world war"

E-books can be viewed online via your browser. Some have the option to download to read offline; once you click through to the e-book from Library Search you will see whether this option is available. Watch the video below for a demonstration

Image of printer

E-books are subject to copyright law, and so publishers determine how much of a book can be downloaded, printed or copied. This can vary depending on the e-book supplier. 

Commonly, printing and copying restrictions are set to a maximum of 10% or one chapter, whichever is greater.

You should be able to read all e-books online via a browser, on your desktop or laptop, and on iPad/iPhone and Android mobile devices.

Image of ebook download option

Some books are available to download onto your own device to read offline. These may be available for a limited period, e.g. 1 day, so the book is not taken out of circulation for too long. When the loan expires, you will be unable to open the e-book and will need to download it again if you wish to continue to use it offline. 

N.B. If you are using a shared PC, it is best to view the book online rather than download it.



For downloading to mobile devices, you will most likely require an e-reader app, e.g. Bluefire Reader.

Generally, entire books cannot be read on Kindles - you may be able to download a limited amount to PDF and then transfer this to a Kindle.


Download image

Adobe Digital Editions may be required to read downloaded e-books.

This can be downloaded freely at

If you are prompted to 'Authorize your computer', then leave the e-book vendor as 'Adobe ID' and tick the box which says 'I want to authorize my computer without an ID'.

You only need to create an ID if you want to transfer downloads across multiple machines.

Improve the e-book reading experience!

F.lux is software designed to adjust your screen colours to the time of day, reducing the blue glow, which might help improve the e-book reading experience. it is free to download for Windows/Mac:


Some e-books offer options to change the text size, background and font colour. See the table below for accessibility information for particular e-book providers:



Accessibility mode can be switched on by reader. This allows magnification. Download ebooks to use with assistive technology. OpenDyslexic typeface is available.


You can increase and decrease the text size by two levels each way, using the little plus and minus symbols in the top right hand corner. When you zoom the text does not reflow (automatically adjust to fit on the page at the new zoom level). 

You can add a coloured overlay by clicking on the little symbol that looks like a pie chart in the top right hand corner. Click this repeatedly to cycle through different overlay colours.


Information about accessibility here:,


Accessibility information available here:


If the e-book is downloadable, you can use the various tools available in Adobe Reader:

  • Apply colour overlays using the Edit > Preferences > Accessibility option from the Adobe Reader menu, then tick the 'Replace Document Colors' box. Click onto the Page Background color box to amend the background colour of the page, then click OK. 
  • Use the Read Out Loud function via the View > Read Out Loud menu option.‚Äč



PDFs opening in a separate window 

  • If you find whilst reading a title online that each page opens up outside the browser, please open Adobe and go to Edit >Preferences>Internet and make sure the option 'display PDF browser' is enabled.


Contact if you need further support.

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