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Ebooks Help: Getting started

What is an ebook?

Ebooks (short for electronic books) are digital versions of print books.

  • The library provides access to over 200,000 commercial ebooks from a large number of suppliers, each with different rights management and functions.
  • They are available to you wherever you have an internet connection, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • They can be downloaded to your computer or device (depending on the limits set by the provider) or read online, and some offer other functions (explained on the Ebook platforms tab).
  • They are available free to the library's registered users.

This guide will assist you in using commercial ebooks that you find via Library Search.

How do I find ebooks?

Ebooks are available from a number of sources:

The most common way is:

  • use Library Search. Ebooks will appear as part of your search results list, along with print books and journal articles, etc.
  • Or, if you ONLY want ebooks, you can limit your search to Books, and then to Full Text Online (see box on this page).


  • Our very popular eBooks @ Adelaide (free), which provides open source editions of classic and out of print titles


  • You can search specific ebook collections, as listed on the EBook Platforms page, using Find ebook.


How do I use ebooks?

This guide is designed to help you with different ebook platforms and their different rules.

There are instructions for some (though not all) of the most common platforms on the Ebook platforms tab (hover over the tab to get a drop-down menu).

For information on ebooks on iPad, Kindle, and Android devices, have a look at the Ebooks on mobile devices tab.

Why aren't all ebooks the same?

Different ebook publishers specialize in different subject areas.
This means that the library acquires ebooks from a number of different publishers and vendors. And often these vendors have different policies on Digital Rights Management.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems control how digital content is used. These systems are set by the vendor or publisher, and determine things like:

  • whether more than one person at a time can view an ebook
  • whether the ebook can be downloaded
  • how much can be downloaded or printed
  • whether there is a time limit for viewing an ebook
  • what devices or programs can support the ebook's format or file type
  • whether you need an additional sign-in account (separate from your University login) to access features of the ebook.

Library Search

Ebooks are listed like other resources in the results of  Library Search.

Limit to BOOKS and search by author, title and subject keywords.
For ebooks: next to "Show only", select "Online".
Click through the hyperlinks and authenticate if necessary.

Advanced Search


You can phone the Service Desk on 83135372, or email Alternatively, contact your Research or Branch Librarian.


This guide is indebted to Genevieve Sey's report Use of ebooks and the University of Adelaide Library, completed as part of ARTS2001, Arts Internship, 2013.