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Finding and Using Electronic Books (Ebooks)

Information about ebook readers and collections available to University of Michigan faculty, staff, and students.

Getting Help

How can I get assistance with ebooks?

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 Ebooks

What problems do users encounter when trying to access ebooks through the library?

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

  • Authentication problems: Many ebooks can only be accessed by currently affiliated U-M students, faculty, and staff.
  • Browser problems: Most ebooks 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 ebooks.
  • Compatibility problems: Not all file formats are compatible with all ebook devices.
  • License or copyright problems: Some ebooks can only be partially downloaded, and others cannot be downloaded at all. Some of our ebooks have restrictions on the number of users who can simultaneously view them.
  • Downloading and printing problems: Some ebooks 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 ebook?

  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 ebook 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 Ebooks

Does the Library have ebooks that I can download to my personal device?

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

Two of our ebook packages, ProQuest Ebook Central and EBSCO eBook Collection, offer a checkout model for downloading ebooks. Both require use of Adobe Digital Editions software to download on a computers or Bluefire to download on mobile devices, 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 ebook devices:

e-Readers and File Formats

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

Wikipedia's comparison of ebook 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 e-readers and may have different features, depending on the e-reader and how the files were created.

Formats read by a sample of e-readers:

  • 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.