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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.

Library Contact

Scott Dennis's picture
Scott Dennis
209 Hatcher Graduate Library
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
(734) 647-6484

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, ProQuest Ebook Central and EBSCO, offer a checkout model for downloading e-books. 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 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.