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Library Research Guides

Finding and Using Electronic Books (e-Books)

Information about e-Book readers and collections available to University of Michigan faculty, staff, and students.

Getting Help

How can I get assistance with e-books?

If you have an in-depth question regarding e-books, contact the librarians listed within this guide.

If you need immediate assistance or think your question could be answered by most library staff, contact our Ask a Librarian service.

Troubleshooting e-Books

What problems do users encounter when trying to access e-books through the library?

Technical problems can occur for a variety of reasons. Some common problems we encounter include:

  • Authentication problems: Many e-books can only be accessed by currently affiliated U-M students, faculty, and staff.
  • Browser problems: Most e-Books have technical requirements that may require you to install plugins or update software. Some pop-up blockers and other browser features can affect your ability to view e-Books.
  • Compatibility problems: Not all file formats are compatible with all e-Book devices.
  • License or copyright problems: Some e-Books can only be partially downloaded, and others cannot be downloaded at all. Some of our e-books have restrictions on the number of users who can simultaneously view them.
  • Downloading and printing problems: Some e-Books do not permit printing or downloading. Others may require you to download software or create a personal account in order to print or download.

What should I do if I have trouble viewing an e-book?

  1. If you're using a database or website, look for links to help or support documentation.
  2. Try to verify that your device or browser is compatible with the e-book you're trying to view.
  3. Contact our Ask a Librarian service, or one of the other help resources listed in this guide. We'll be happy to help you!

Your e-Reader and Library e-Books

Does the Library have e-books that I can download to my personal device?

Publishers are not always willing to sell all their e-books to libraries. Most e-books in our electronic databases cannot be downloaded to e-book devices. There are, however, some exceptions.

Two of our ebook packages, ebrary and EBSCO, offer a checkout model for downloading e-books. Both require use of Adobe Digital Editions software, which does not work with Kindles but does work with other e-readers.

Additionally, we have some databases of public domain works that can be downloaded to some e-book devices:

eReaders and File Formats

How do I determine which file formats my device can read?

Wikipedia's comparison of e-book readers includes extensive information on file format support.

Most major e-readers can read PDFs in addition to the epub or azw book formats. PDF files are not optimized for eReaders and may have different features, depending on the e-reader and how the files were created.

Formats read by a sample of eReaders:

  • Amazon Kindle: pdf, Kindle format (azw), txt, mp3, aa, aax. Also can support doc(x), html, rtf, jpeg, gif, png, bmp, pdf creation (with a for-fee conversion service from Amazon). No epub.
  • Barnes & Noble NOOK: epub (including non or Adobe DRM), pdf, xls(x), doc(s), ppt(x), pps, txt, docm, xlsm, pptm, ppsx, ppsm, jpg, gif, png, bmp, mp3, mp4, aac
  • Sony Reader: ePub, BBeB Book, pdf, txt, rtf, doc(x)--with conversion.
  • iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad/iPad2: Most formats, depending on downloaded app.