What Is an eBook?
An ebook is a text presented in a format which allows it to be read on a computer or handheld device. Many, but not all print books are available as ebooks. eBooks can just be the electronic text of the book or may also contain extra features, such as audio, video or links to other resources.
What Can You Do With an eBook?
- Read the book online through a web browser
- Download the book to your device to read offline
- Download chapters or pages from a book to read offline
- Print pages
- Copy text from pages
- Set up an online bookshelf or folder
- Highlight text or make notes in books if you're reading them online
However, the Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools that publishers use prevents unlimited download, printing and copying. You will only be able to download a book for a limited amount of time before the ebook "expires" and you will probably only be able to print or copy 5-20% of an ebook. Some books though do not contain DRM, so there's no limit on downloading, printing or copying. You can search for non-DRM books on ProQuest, but not on EBSCO.
There are several formats for ebooks. The two most common are PDF and EPUB. Some books are available in both formats, while others are available only in one format (usually PDF)
- PDF format books have distinct pages, which allow for page-level citations. They have a fixed page size that may not work well on all devices or screen sizes/zoom levels. PDF eBooks are compatible with screen readers using an ASCII text layer.
- EPUB books automatically resize to fit your screen, and are composed of HTML. This format works better with screen readers as it was designed for accessibility and navigation. Most EPUBs contain heading levels that can be used to navigate within the content.
- Most full book downloads require Adobe Digital Editions reader, which is available for desktop or mobile. These files have the .acsm extension. You download the .acsm file, open that and then download the ebook separately, hence you need an Internet connection whe opening an .acsm file (so you can download the EPUB or PDF file)
- DRM-free downloads can be read using any PDF or EPUB reader. DRM-free files have the extension .pdf or .epub
- To read a DRM-free EPUB file on a desktop, you can use Adobe Digital Editions
- To read a DRM-free EPUB file on your mobile device, there are many compatible apps, including iBooks, Google Play Books, Bluefire Reader, Aldiko, etc.
- Partial book downloads (pages, chapters) are DRM-free and may be read using any PDF reader tool
Does the Library Have Access to eBooks?
The Library currently has access to two eBook platforms
Neither EBSCO nor ProQuest are publishers themselves. They are what is known as aggregators, they aggregate (licence) content from commercial academic publishers. Each publisher has different rules about how eBooks can be used. Publishers use Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools to enforce those rules. Four licences are available:
- 1 user (1U) licence - just like with one physical copy of a library book, only one person can "borrow" (read online or download) the book at any time. If you want to read a 1U licence book and someone else is using it, then it's just like a library book being out on loan to someone else; you will have to wait for the book to be returned. Sadly, there is no option at the moment to reserve a book or be alerted when it becomes available. If you are waiting for a copy of a book to become available, you'll need to check back every so often to see the book's current status. If a book is not available, you'll see this in the search results
- 3 user (3U) licence - like a 1 user licence, except there are three copies available. If three people have "borrowed" the ebook, then you will have to wait until one copy is available.
- Credit (NL) licence -. the digital library buys a number of ebook credits. One day's downloading or reading online = 1 credit. The number of credits available vary from publisher to publisher but are normally 200-400 credits per ebook. An NL licence with 200 credits would mean that 200 people can read the ebook online at the same time or one person could download the ebook 200 times.
- Unlimited access (UA) - there is no limit on the number of people who can be using the ebook at the same time. This is obviously this best licence
All ebooks on EBSCO eBooks for FE Subscription Collection are unlimited, while those on ProQuest eBook Central can be any of the four licences listed above.
EBSCO eBooks for FE Subscription Collection (UK)
This is a collection of eBooks intended to be used in further education institutions in the UK. It currently contains 7,100 titles and is updated on a quarterly basis. All ebooks on this platform have an unlimited licence, which means there is no limit on how many people can access an ebook at the same time. Downloading, printing and copying are however, subject to limits.
Content covers many subjects, including, but not limited to:
- Business and management
- Child development and early years
- Computers and IT
- Fashion and design
- Health and social care
- Performing arts
- Sport, leisure, physical education and fitness
- Technology and engineering
Accessing the FE Book Collection
Access is through an authentication method called referring URL which requires a password-protected page on the Library website. The Library provides a comprehensive user guide to the FE Book Collection which includes a link to the FE Collection, or you can access the FE collection password-protected page directly. To get the password, contact the library using an institutional (college/training centre/ETB) email. We cannot supply passwords requested from webmail (Gmail, Yahoo etc) accounts
EBSCO eBooks for FE Subscription Collection (UK) Guide
EBSCO eBooks for FE Subscription Collection (UK) Access Page (password required)
ProQuest eBook Central
The Digital Library has access to the ProQuest eBook Central Platform. This hosts ebooks from many different publishers and at the time of writing, there are over 1.8 million titles available for purchase.
The Library owns over 300 ProQuest ebooks covering a variety of subject areas including:
- Academic writing and assignments
- Communication skills
- Early learning and care
- Education and teaching
- Plagiarism and referencing
- Self help
- Study skills
Access to ProQuest eBook Central requires both a username and a password.
The Digital Library can provide logins for staff to access books acquired by the digital library and also browse the entire catalogue. For most titles, a five-minute preview is offered for you to have a quick look through the book. To request an account, contact the library using an institutional (college/training centre/ETB) email. We cannot create accounts based on requests received from webmail (Gmail, Yahoo etc) accounts
Learners can also request accounts, but again an institutional (college) email is required. We cannot create accounts based on requests received from webmail (Gmail, Yahoo etc) accounts
ProQuest eBook Central guide
eBook Central login page (username and password required)
The Digital Library is happy to entertain purchase recommendations made by staff members. These books can either be for:
- Professional development
- Teaching and learning
Please not that ebook licences can be expensive and recommendations may be declined on grounds of cost
EBSCO eBooks for FE Subscription Collection (UK) - this is a large Excel Spreadsheet that lists the 7,000+ titles available
ProQuest eBook Central: This is a full list of titles owned by the library.
Other eBook Collections
BC Open Textbooks
- A Canadian site offering access to open access, free to use and distribute (and often modify) textbooks at both further and higher education level.
Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)
- A site that provides access to scholarly, peer-reviewed open access books and helps users to find trusted open access book publishers
JSTOR Open Access Books
Open Textbook Library
- Another collection of free to use, distribute and modify open access textbooks that can be used in further and higher education institutions
- A library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of books or individual stories in the public domain, so it's perhaps more useful for finding classic literature than anything technical