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About the Emory Libraries ebook collections available to Emory students, faculty, and staff

General Questions

Can I use an e-book for a class (e.g., Reserves)? – Yes, but there may be restrictionsMost titles direct from publishers, as well as JSTOR and Project Muse,are DRM free. If from an aggregator, you can check the title access restrictions on the main record page (see examples on this page).  Many e-books can be purchased specifically for a class as "unlimited" or "multi-user", but most publishers restrict libraries in purchases of traditional course or textbooks. in addition, not all titles are available as multi-user or unlimited access(they are restricted to 1 or 3 users). This may be the case specifically for ProQuest of EBSCO titles. See below for examples as to how to determine the user restrictions for ProQuest and EBSCO titles. 

Commercial textbooks are often not available for institutional purchase by libraries.  In cases where only a 1 user copy is available, we will automatically make read-only if chosen for Reserves. HOWEVER, this only means that students can not checkout the text, not read simultaneously via the platform reader in class. Usually, titles will be made available after 30-40 minutes of inactivity. Overdrive titles can not be made read-only and are not good options for Reserves.

Again, keep in mind that textbooks are difficult for libraries to acquire in digital forms. Contact your librarian or the Reserves team for assistance with your specific text.Rental options, through the Barnes and Noble Bookstore, may be the best option for some students to access textbooks. Also, remember that Wiley, Oxford, Springer, Cambridge and Routledge all produce a variety of handbooks, companions, and surveys which can serve as course texts freely accessible to you and your students. Again, see our e-book guide for more details as to the availability and access to these collections. Consider Open Educational Resource options as well.

Please allow time for the exploration of possible options when preparing your course, so that we can determine what e-book options are available, and maximize use and availability!

Are you blocked from copying or saving text from an e-book? If so, this e-book's publisher is using Digital Rights Management or DRM to control unlawful use. This is a common source of frustration for readers and libraries. Restrictions vary by publisher and title but can include: (1) who can access, (2) how much content can be copied or downloaded, (3) if and how long downloads can be stored on a personal device, (4)restrictions on the applications/e-readers that can be used and (5) blurriness of the e-book image.

What are the Emory Libraries doing to improve usability of e-books for research purposes? Our priority is to purchase books without DRM. That is not always an option, but publishers often allow you to "check out" the e-book to download it, which will provide you with the most usability options. Some publishers are producing e-books with no download, copying or printing restrictions and do allow saving on personal devices. Other publishers only allow for chapter level downloads, where one must download each chapter, including front matter and bibliographies separately, requiring users to stitch the content together themselves. We continue to advocate for better usability through professional organizations, aggregators, and advisory groups, for better usability of e-books for teaching and research.

It is also good practice to check links and access prior to assigning texts for class, as e-book package content can change (particularly for subscription databases).

FAQs:Questions re: Access

Can I download the entire book? Some e-book publishers only allow you to download individual chapters or sections, including Project Muse and JSTOR. In these case, you may use Adobe Acrobat Pro or other free software to stitch the individual PDFs into a single PDF. Consider a tool such as DownThemAll to facilitate individual downloading. Other publishers allow you to download the complete book as a PDF, including Springer and ProQuest, or to create a zip file of multiple PDFs (which still require "stitching"). In other cases, you may be required to download additional free software, such as Adobe Digital Editions, that restricts how you use the document. Other e-books, such as those in AccessMedicine, prevent you from downloading the entire book but you can create a personal account to highlight and save notes. EBSCO and ProQuest titles have restrictions on the amount one can download and for how long (see "Accessing E-Book Collections"), as well as how many individuals can check out a title at one time.

Are there benefits of using reading online, or using the HTML version of the text? What about the PDF?

The HTML text often includes hyperlinks to other content cited in references and toggling between in-text citations and notes and references. It is also much more accessible than PDF for certain users. The PDF may not have this functionality, but is much more transportable than an HTML page, and can be annotated. Keep in mind that the links tend to work better for locating e-journal content, more than e-book content. If you do not find an e-version of a book in the catalog from the e-book reference, please be sure to check Library Search for a print copy.

I see both PDF and ePub options, which should I choose? Are there differences among PDFs?

The PDF option is usually a much more faithful copy (PDF/A) of the print and can be transported into such citation management systems, such as Zotero. However, it may also have a different look and feel, such as here (Oxford University Press), in which case the page numbers are embedded into the document. Im some enhanced PDFs, you will be able to toggle between notes and texts. And in others, there will be no links. ePub versions of the text are web-based and often do not include page numbers. However, they may be more transportable across Kindles and other readers.

How do I know what restrictions are on an e-book in terms of copying and pasting, or how many users can use simultaneously? Check the detailed record for information concerning number of pages one can download or copy/paste during a session, or whether there are restrictions on number of users. "Unlimited" or "non-linear access" (see below) do not have any restrictions on how many users can access or check-out the e-book at one time. Keep on mind that you may be able to get around some of the copy/paste limitations by closing your browser session and re-opening a session. If you are reading online and are finished, please close your session and browser so as to free up access for another user. After a period of activity, your session may be closed automatically.

I read an e-book I found in Library Search but can not find it now. Where is this book? - The Emory Libraries are using a variety of ways, including purchases, subscriptions, and trials to build collections and evaluate options. Contact your librarian if you need a book you can not find, or if a link no longer works. These trials rely on heavy use and user input to determine what to keep long-term and are known as Demand Driven Acquisition (DDA), Evidence-based acquisitions model (EBA), or Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA). It is highly recommended that instructors check their e-book links for their courses in order to ensure that access is not interrupted. A subject librarian can potentially purchase a single copy of the text.

What if I prefer a print version on an e-book? This is allowed. Contact your librarian to request a copy.  We strive to purchase e-books that are easy to use and have no restrictions, but not all are available this way so we understand not all e-books are the same as print books. 

Why can't I access this title? It is turning me away? – The title may be have reached its maximum limit of users. We try to purchase multi-user titles as much as possible, but sometimes there are restrictions on the number of users who can use and/or an e-book simultaneously (see examples below to see how you can tell).  We have tried to place some local maximums (length of checkout, ability to read online for some titles while they have been checked out) and rules to allow for maximum use of these titles. However, we can make some changes at the local level for items on Reserves. Please be considerate to your fellow patrons by returning downloaded books early if you can, using Adobe Digital Editions. 

Why can I no longer access a title? Why can I no longer find it in Library Search?

Some titles may have been part of a trial or part of a title in a collection to which we no longer have access to OR, use may be limited (e.g. one day, one week, one month). If a title is checked out (electronically), you may also create an account in ProQuest or EBSCO to be alerted when it is available. Contact your librarian if you are unable to access the title.

How do I link to an ebook for reserves or for a reference?

For EBSCO and ProQuest titles, look for the "permalink" which serves as the permanent link to the ebook record. For publisher direct content, the URL in your broswer should suffice. You may want to link to a specific chapter or to the entire text. Be sure you see the emory proxy in the address.

What information is being collected when I use e-books? Each publisher and vendor has different privacy policies. Typical information collected includes your location from IP address, titles read, and the length of time used. If you create a personal account they will also collect your email address. Ebsco's privacy policy provides an example. 

E-Books Access Glossary

Adobe Digital Editions - Free e-Book reader program used by some e-book providers to manage restricted e-book check out and use. You may be required to create a personal ID and password. This is not the same as Adobe Reader.

Concurrent – Allows for unlimited and at the same time access up to an annual maximum number of uses (typically 365 uses). Once the maximum number of uses is met, the e-book is no longer available. On the anniversary of the purchase date, the number of uses is reset to the original maximum. 

EPub - The industry standard format for delivering eBooks, because it enables publishers to create books that behave more like web content. These titles are often embedded with links to help the user navigate between sections, from the index to the relevant pages, and out to the open web.

Limited User – A set number of users can access the title at a time. The most common limited user models are Single User (1U) and Three User (3U). Any users attempting to access the title after the limit has been reached will receive a message indicating that the user limit has been reached. If the book is not available, you can contact your librarian or Interlibrary Loan for another copy. 

Non-Linear Usage (NL) – This model allows for unlimited concurrent access but has a set number of lending days per year (typically 325 days). The combined number of loan days per year cannot exceed the maximum days-of-use allotment. On the anniversary of the purchase date, the number of loan days reset to the original maximum.

Open Access (OA) – Open access resources are available to users for free online. While some publishers have committed to keep certain e-books, most providers have a small and/or frequently changing number of open access resources. Most providers indicate their open access resources with an image of an open lock.

Perpetual Access –  A library purchases and owns individual titles or pre-selected packs of titles.

PDF - The best format for retaining page numbers. Library surveys indicate that most people at Emory prefer this format. Most publisher PDFs now include hyperlinks to navigate within the document, whereas other publishers create "surrogates" of the original print in which page numbers are incorporated into the text.

Public Domain Title – Any book for which the copyright has expired—usually a book published before the 1920s. Public domain e-books are generally encrypted at a lower level of security. 

Unlimited Users (UU) – Unlimited usage e-books have no limits on the number of uses or simultaneous users. Note that not all unlimited titles are DRM-free titles and may still have copy and download restrictions. 

Unlimited Users DRM-free – Unlimited access to users with no DRM restrictions on printing, saving, and copying. Full-book downloads require no special software such as Adobe Digital Editions.