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E-book guide: online support

How to find and use e-books

We purchase e-books wherever possible

Digital content is the most accessible format for a variety of people, as it can be used with assistive technologies

E-books can be accessed 24/7, on and off campus - anywhere you have an internet connection

Many allow multiple users at one time, so no waiting for a book to be returned

Many provide additional features such as making annotations, highlighting and searching within the text.

Using e-books

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. Read the full accessibility statement for VLeBooks for more information.


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.

About e-books

Main providers

These provide books across a wide range of publishers, many of whom do not offer their e-books in any other way, but they are mostly subject to Digital Rights Management (DRM), which is a way of ensuring copyright printing and copying limits are adhered to. 

Direct from the publisher

Some publishers also sell their e-books direct to universities. These e-books are usually DRM-free, i.e. the publisher does not impose any copyright limits and you are able to print/save/copy as much as you like. 


Main providers Direct from publishers, e.g Others include (but not limited to)

Ebook Central








Taylor and Francis





E-books are made available under various access models; this depends on what the publisher will allow.

  • Credits: Some  e-books are made available with an annual credit limit. If the number of credits is used up, the library will need to buy another copy. These books are generally available for download.
  • Concurrent Users: Some e-books are restricted to a particular number of users at one time - usually 1-3. If the maximum number of people are reading the e-book at the same time, you may not be able to access it, and you should try again later. These are not available for download.
  • Unlimited users: Some books are available under a multi-user licence, which means that any number of people can view the content simultaneously without restrictions on downloads.
  • Rent before you buy model: This means that large numbers of e-books are discoverable via our library catalogue, but items are only purchased when they are actually accessed by our library users. See the next tab for more information. 

We are using a rental first system for our VLE books.  This means that the first few people that use the ebook do so on a rental basis, at a fraction of the full purchase cost.  

1. A quick Preview is possible for all books in this scheme – without triggering a rental or purchase – as shown below:


2. After a quick preview has been made, users will be asked to Request Access.  You’ll need to make a few click drop down selections to trigger access, for example:

3. Then you’ll get an Alert and email confirmation to let you know the item has been rented for you for one week.

Don’t worry, you can still access the book after your one week rental is up, it’ll just trigger another rental or purchase.  Following several rentals the book will be fully purchased at next use.

4. Once a rental or purchase has been made, you’ll then get full access to the book as shown below.

Kortext is a new e-textbook provider the Library is trialling. It provides electronic access to thousands of textbooks titles. Click the logo to access our Kortext help page.

Google Book Search

Directory of Open Access books (DOAB) The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books. Search, browse and download from a large selection of eBooks

eScholarship Editions The collection includes over 2,000 eBooks from academic presses on a range of topics, including art, science, history, music, religion, and fiction. More than 500 of these are available for free download. Content is free for non-commercial use.

InTechOpen More than 2,400 books across engineering, physical sciences, life sciences, health sciences, and social sciences published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) is a collaborative initiative to develop and implement a sustainable Open Access publication model for academic books in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Nearly 1,000 free online titles available.

Project Gutenberg More than 20,000 free full text eBooks available on a range of topics. Download terms and conditions.

E-book examples

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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