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. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines an eBook as "an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a computer or handheld device".


eCopies of Textbooks: Snapplify

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


Reading eBooks online

  • You can read eBooks online with standard software 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 provide this option.
    • If you are not offered a downloading/offline option, it is not available.
    • PDF documents not controlled by digital rights management software may be downloaded to most PCs without 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 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 log in 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 tablet devices/smartphones and eBook readers. In other words, all the purchased or borrowed books afterward belong to that computer. You can download or transfer the same eBook to 6 computers, tablet devices/smartphones, and eBook readers where Adobe Digital Editions is installed and authorized with the same Adobe ID.​

  3. Video on how to download eBooks available on EbscoHost

Things to keep in mind about eBooks

  • Not all books are available in eBook format.  
  • Most library eBook collections are presented in formats 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; therefore, it is difficult to view some PDF files on small screens that come with smartphones, tablets, and eBook readers.  ePub is the preferred eBook file format as the text reflows to fit the screen's dimensions. 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 other text from that eBook.
  • Some eBook software is designed to restrict printing to a limited number of pages 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.