Reading Ebooks: a guide

| January 28, 2012

Perhaps you’ve noticed, when looking for a book at TC, the large number of electronic books in our collection. TC’s collection policy states, “Whenever possible, the library endeavors to acquire materials in digital form as the preferred medium to support the widest possible use among library patrons.”  Most electronic books in the collections are licensed, or purchased, through a company called ebrary. Depending on the title in question, it may be a single-use book, which means one patron can read the book at a time, or a multi-use title, which means up to four patrons can read the book simultaneously. If it’s a single-use book and another patron is reading it, a message will appear saying you don’t have access to the book at the moment. Otherwise, to read the book, simply click on the ebrary link, and the full text of the book will open on your screen.

(Note: the book itself sits to the left of the screen, while the list of chapters, in this case the alphabet, sits to the right. You can jump right to the chapter you want to read by clicking one of the links on the right.)

That sounds simple enough, but what if onscreen reading is not your cup of tea? Perhaps reading books on a computer hurts your eyes, or you simply prefer to hold the “book” in your hands…

Well, ebrary recently added more reading features, which make reading ebooks more flexible.  For instance, ebrary now allows you to print chunks of the book in 60 page increments. The 60 page restriction adheres to copyright and/or publisher’s restrictions but, as you probably quickly surmised, you can print multiple sections of the book in succession. Ebrary also allows you to create a pdf file of individual chapters, which you can load onto an e-reader (including Kindle, because Kindle can read pdfs). If your professor assigned you one chapter out of a textbook and we have it as an ebook, loading just the chapter you need onto your reader is a lot lighter to carry around than a print copy would be.

(In yellow, above, is the download button; you click this to download either the entire book–explanation to come–or sections of the book.)

To download parts of the book, you need to create an ebrary account, which is easy and painless; check out the upper right hand section of the screen for a login link (highlighted in yellow, above), which will guide you through the account-creation process. Once you have an account and you click the “download” button, you’ll be presented with download options.

What if you need to read the whole book, but printing sounds expensive, reading on an upright computer screen drives you crazy, and loading each chapter individually seems taxing?  Well, ebrary recently added the ability to download the entire book for a limited period of time (14 days) with Adobe Digital Editions.  The catch is that Adobe Digital Editions is not compatible with Kindle, though it’ll work fine on your iPad.

For a longer description of printing and downloading logistics, here is a FAQ sheet.