eBooks: FAQs


Yes, you can, but the amount you can print is limited both by publisher restrictions and by copyright law.

Check our <guides to major ebook platforms for specific information on printing restrictions.

Always remember the copyright rules and don't print more than you need. For research and study, the law assumes that up to 10% of the words in an ebook is a reasonable portion to copy and print.

When downloading an ebook, you may be given the option to choose either PDF or EPUB format. Choose based upon how you want to use the ebook:

  • PDF displays pages with the exact same layout as in a print book. This can be useful for books with complex layout and illustrations, but can be harder to read on small screens.
  • EPUB allows the text of the book to be reformatted to fit your screen and preferred font size. This is the best option for reading text-heavy books on small screens.

To read our ebooks online, all you need is a computer or mobile device with a browser.

Please see our Downloading ebooks page for information on reading ebooks offline.

In the same way you reference a print book, with added information to show how you accessed the ebook. You can find examples and help at the University's referencing guides:

For many of our ebooks, the date displayed in our Catalogue represents the date when the book was first made available electronically. The ebook may be a copy of a print book that was written and published many years earlier.

If you need ebooks that were written recently, be sure to check for Front Matter/Copyright pages. If the book was first published in print, you can see that date here.

Publishers set the terms of access, not libraries.

The Library buys some ebooks outright from publishers. Books purchased outright generally offer more flexibility: they can be accessed by multiple users, downloaded and printed freely. However, these purchases cost more, so we concentrate on buying titles in our core subject areas.

To provide a wider range of subject coverage, the Library also subscribes to ebook packages. Staff and students gain access to the latest research in many disciplines, at a low cost. These ebooks are treated much like print books: they can usually only be read by one user at a time, and there are technical limits on copying.

If you would like to use a limited-access ebook on a course reading list, please contact your Library Services Team to discuss options for purchasing more flexible access.

The types of eBook licences available to the Library depend on the licence models our eBook suppliers are able to offer. These are the types of different licences that the Library may be able to purchase, depending on availability:

  • Single User:  restrictions apply so that only one user has access to a title at any given time. Usually for a 24 hour period. When the maximum number of users has been reached, other patrons will be unable to read the title until a copy becomes available.
  • Three User:  restrictions apply so that a maximum of 3 users have access to a title at any given time. Usually for a 24 hour period. When the maximum number of users has been reached, other patrons will be unable to read the title until a copy becomes available.
  • Multi User:  titles can be lent to any number of patrons simultaneously per copy purchased.
  • Concurrent:  a type of multi-user licence. Access is granted to several users simultaneously per copy purchased.
  • Non Linear:  a type of multi-user licence. Titles can be lent to any number of patrons concurrently, but the number of annual loan days depends on how many patrons access the title at any given time. The number of annual loan days may be 325 but if, for example, four patrons each trigger a ten-day loan for the same title, 40 days are deducted from the title's 325 loan days.

While reading an ebook, try to have good posture and take frequent breaks to minimise the risk of straining any part of your body.

Eye strain can occur with extended screen use. Give your eyes a rest by looking away from the screen and focussing on something in the distance for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Ensure you have adequate lighting for eye comfort. Position your screen to avoid glare, and adjust the brightness of your display to a comfortable level.

When reading a computer display at night, you can reduce eye strain by adjusting the colour of your screen. Install the f.lux app for Windows and Mac here:

You can create an RSS feed which will alert you to recently published Library ebooks on a subject of your choice. Follow these steps:

  1. Search the Library Collection for your area of interest.
  2. Refine the search, by choosing to show only 'Full Text Online' and 'Library Collection', and choosing the format 'Books'.
  3. Sort the list by selecting 'Date(newest)' from the box above the results.
  4. Add this code to the end of the URL (web address) for the search: &xml=rss
  5. Use this new URL in an RSS reader of your choice. For example, in Microsoft Outlook:
    1. Right-click 'RSS Feeds' in the list of your mailbox folders.
    2. Select 'Add a New RSS Feed', and copy the URL into the New RSS Feed box.

Your search results will appear in your RSS reader. As new ebooks are added to the Catalogue, they will appear as new items in this list.

eTextbooks are a subset of ebooks, with this status determined by the book's publisher.

Digital versions of print textbooks (where publishers have sold multiple copies of books directly to students for a specific course) are likely to be deemed e-textbooks, an approach intended to protect the publisher's revenue stream. These e-textbooks may include additional interactive features such as assessments, quizzes, lecture slides or social media channels that facilitate student interaction, or they may be part of a complete course teaching package.

Publishers generally do not make these interactive textbooks available for purchase by libraries; instead they are sold only to individuals. Those that do sell to libraries charge per enrolled student, making the cost prohibitive within library budgets.

Sometimes books are also described as e-textbooks on the basis that they appear on a reading list somewhere in the world, without any impact on the way in which they can be used. The publications of major publishers such as Elsevier and Springer fall in this category.

The majority of ebooks purchased by the Library are bought to support research and the learning experience across different disciplines, and are not classified as e-textbooks.

No. Most ebooks are not e-textbooks.  If you don’t wish to use an existing e-textbook, or cannot find one that is suitable for your course, you can choose a standard ebook as a textbook. It may be that this title has been assessed by the publisher as better suited to research and thus less likely to be used as a teaching resource. If you are one of the few to assign the title as required reading it is unlikely to be regarded by the publisher as an e-textbook.

Attributions for all images used in this guide.