Library and Information Service

eBooks

What are eBooks?

An eBook (short for electronic book and also known as a digital book, ebook, and e-book) is a book publication made available in digital format. An eBook, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary of English, is "an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a computer or handheld device".

How do I search for eBooks?

You can use any of the following platforms:

EBSCO EDS (After running your search, limit your results to eBooks by clicking on Limit by Source Type on the left side and choosing eBooks.  EDS also searches in the contents of the book.)

or 

The Library Catalogue

Advanced search


or

Our eBook collections

or 

Individual databases:

Free sources
A number of our providers made their eBook databases available to us free of charge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will find the list on our database page under "Free sources"

South Africa E-learning Platform via Snapplify
Access digital textbooks, resources and library books. Follow the instructions in this PDF document.

Reading eBooks online

  • You can read eBooks online with software that comes standard on most computers and portable devices.
  • If special software is needed to open and read an eBook online, the eBook will often provide its own (e.g. eBook Central) software.
  • On Library computers, you can only read the eBook online.

Reading eBooks offline

  1. Not all of the Library’s eBooks provides this option.
    • If you are not offered a downloading/offline option then it is not available.
    • PDF documents that are not controlled by digital rights management software may be downloaded to most PCs without the need for additional software.
  2. Downloading eBooks using Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software
    • If you wish to download eBooks to your computer or device, you must have both a free Adobe account and the free Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software installed. Adobe Digital Editions allows you to access eBooks downloaded to your computer in either ePub or PDF format protected with Adobe Digital Rights Management (DRM).  
    • Download Adobe Digital Editions.
      During the installation of Adobe Digital Editions there should be an option to Authorize Computer. Select Authorize Computer and login with your Adobe ID and Password. Note: If you select Don’t Authorize Computer you cannot transfer an Adobe DRM protected e-Book to another computer or any tablet devices/smartphones and/or eBook readers. In other words, all the purchased or borrowed books afterward belong to that computer. You are able to download or transfer the same eBook to 6 computers and tablet devices/smartphones and eBook readers where either Adobe Digital Editions is installed and authorised with the same Adobe ID.​

  3. Video on how to downloading eBooks available on EbscoHost
  4. SpringerLink Tutorial
  5. EbooksCentral Tutorial

Things to keep in mind about eBooks

  • Not all books are available in eBook format.  
  • Most library eBook collections are presented in formats that are intended for viewing in a browser on a computer. 
  • Due to our licensing agreements with publishers, some eBooks in our collections are limited to one user at a time.
  • Typically eBook files will be in either PDF or ePub format. PDF files don’t adapt well to various sized displays and devices and therefore it is difficult to view some PDF files on small screens that come with some smartphones, tablets and eBook readers.  ePub is the preferred eBook file format as the text reflows to fit the dimensions of the screen. The ePub eBook file format supports Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Can I print /copy & paste from eBooks?

  • Yes, but eBooks are protected by copyright law in the same way as printed publications!
  • As a guide, SA copyright law allows you to print/copy no more than one chapter, or 10% of a work, whichever is the greater.
  • The different eBook suppliers and publishers have different rules about this but once these limits are reached, you will not be able to print/copy any further text from that eBook.
  • Some eBook software is designed to restrict printing to a limited number of pages only, or a limited number of pages per day.  In this case, the eBook software will notify you of how many pages you may print.

For more detailed information, please go to the suppliers’ websites.

Help with accessing eBooks

  • If you repeatedly have problems accessing an eBook, please contact your Faculty Librarian.