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Find Ebooks: FAQs about Ebooks

FAQ about Ebooks

What are some advantages of using an ebook versus a print book?  

Ebooks are either electronic versions of printed books, or books that were originally published in digital format.  While print books have a table of contents and an index, ebooks typically have linked table of contents and keyword searching.   Vendors who license ebooks to the library, such as Ebsco or Ovid, offer free personal logins to enable such features  as ability to bookmark, highlight or comment on text.   Licensed ebooks are available whenever you need them, on or off campus.  Open-access ebooks are freely available to anyone in the world. 

Can I download ebooks for reading off-line?   

Ebooks in the library catalog are for reference only, and are not checked out to individual users. However, publishers allow downloading a certain number of pages, or an entire chapter.  Open-access ebooks can be downloaded in their entirety. 

Can I search inside all ebooks simultaneously?

  • The library catalog allows keyword searching of the authors, titles, summaries and subjects of ebooks,
  • PDF formatted ebooks:  Searching for specific text is limited to a single book.  
  • HTML-formatted ebooks: Searching for specific text is limited to one or more ebooks hosted on the same platform.  Typically, once you open an HTML-formatted ebook, you can search for text inside the book, or across all of the books offered on a specific platform, such as Ebsco, Ovid or Bookshelf at NCBI.  
  • Search Index Tip for single HTML-formatted ebooks:  Skip the search box, skip navigating the chapters, and jump directly to the Index.  Use your computer's Find feature to locate multiple instances of your topic in the Index.  To keep your place in the Index, open each link in a new window to view the content. See an example in Tools & Tutorials.
  • Search Index is also worthwhile for PDF-formatted ebooks, but you must note relevant pages and navigate manually, just like paging through the physical book. 

What are the system requirements for viewing ebooks?

Since most e-books at Life West library are in PDF or HTML format, any Internet-connected device with a large enough screen for reading is suitable.  The emerging ePub format configures its display to the device being used. The library has not purchased any ebooks that require proprietary readers.  Some ebook hosting services, such as Ebsco, provide optional apps for mobile devices.


What if the link from the catalog does not open the ebook

  • If the link fails completely, please notify library staff to fix the URL.  
  • If the link reaches the ebook website, you may encounter a message that someone else is currently using the book. Please contact library staff if you believe more "user seats" should be purchased.

FYI:  Some ebooks are available to an unlimited number of users. This depends on the publisher's sales policy.


Does the library purchase required textbooks in ebook format?   

Publishers are willing to license only a select portion of their titles to libraries.  The librarians do check for availability of digital texts and are glad to follow up on suggestions. Publishers adjust their product lines regularly, and you might notice availability of an ebook before we do!

Publishers offer many more titles in digital formats to individuals.  You may have to choose between purchasing the online version of a textbook, or the print textbook which might include online access to supplementary online study aids and sometimes the entire book.  The owner of the book typically registers using a scratch off product key.  Look for information from the publisher about the duration of online access.   

Tip:  Thinking of purchasing or renting an ebook?  Read the license carefully for the expiration date.  Publishers might retire your access after a specified time, such as 6 months, or at an unspecified time such as 1 year after the next edition is released.