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eBooks: How It Works

Step by Step

Pen Nib Step 1: Make sure you have accounts in ebrary and EBSCO. (Now you can check out eBooks from any library collection)

Step 2: Install software

  • To read on a tablet or smartphone: Install a free eReader app (see box below)
  • To read on a computer or dedicated eReader: Create an Adobe ID and install Adobe Digital Editions
Books Step 3: Select an eBook
Globe and Arrow Step 4: Download the eBook
Right Arrow Step 5 (Optional): Transfer the eBook to your device


If I borrow an eBook from the library, how long can I keep it?

That depends on the collection, but typically you can keep an eBook up to 7 days.

Do I need anything special to borrow a library eBook?

If you are borrowing a book from ebrary or EBSCO eBook Collection, you will need to set up a free account with ebrary or EBSCO.

In order to download a library eBook to read offline (whether on a desktop, laptop, or dedicated eReader), you will need to install Adobe Digital Editions and set up an Adobe ID. The next tab has links and instructions for all of this.

Why does an eBook need to be checked out anyway? Can't it be read by lots of people at once?

Unfortunately, no. Publishers are used to the idea of print books, where only one person can read a copy at a time. When they started offering eBooks, they stuck to the model they knew, one copy per reader. Some publishers let libraries purchase extra "users" so that more than one person can read a book at once, but it is not universal.

Can I return an eBook early if I'm finished with it?

Again, it depends on the collection, and also on the eBooks format. If you borrow a book using Adobe Digital Editions software, then you can return it early.

Can I renew an eBook checkout?

Though there is no way to renew an eBook that is currently checked out, there is nothing to keep you from re-checking it out immediately after it expires, though you might have to wait up to an hour for the system to recognize that the book is available for checkout again.

This all sounds complicated. How do I actually go about reading one of these things?

Don't worry - it's not as difficult as it sounds! On the next tab, you'll see a chart of devices. Find the device you want to read on, and follow the instructions. The first time you check out an eBook you may have to download some software, but that is a one time thing. Once you've done that, it's quite easy.

DRM: Digital Rights Management

What is DRM?

You've probably heard the term DRM in connection with eBooks and digital music. But what exactly is DRM and why is it such a big deal? According to the Digital Rights Management Software tutorial (available in FAITS), "the term digital rights management (DRM) is used to describe any technology that inhibits the use of digital content in a manner not desired or intended by the content provider. DRM software was initially developed to combat digital piracy and copyright infringement, chiefly in the entertainment field."


What does this mean for you?

DRM affects you whether you are purchasing an eBook or borrowing an eBook from the library. Here is a breakdown: 

Individual buying an eBook:

  • Licensed, not purchased
  • No lending
  • No printing/copying
  • Seller/publisher can revoke license and erase content at will

Library buying an eBook:

  • May be purchased, licensed for one user at a time, or licensed for multiple (or even unlimited) users at a time
  • Lending is allowed from the library to an authorized patron (AAMU student, faculty, or staff)
  • Printing/copying may be allowed
  • Library has option of purchasing "perpetual access"