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Accessing Resources

ebooks@cambridge: Use ebooks

A guide to finding and using ebooks at the University of Cambridge

What can I do with ebooks?

Ebook functionality varies from supplier to supplier. As well as full-text searching and reading online, most platforms offer the ability to download some or all of the book to a variety of mobile devices (including in some cases Kindles). A few offer extra features such as text highlighting or annotating.

Many of us are having to read online more than ever, and this is undoubtedly a different experience to reading print materials. For some advice on making the experience easier please have a look at the Reading On Screen Study Skills LibGuide.

Important information on downloading ebooks

Where possible, Cambridge University Libraries provide access to ebooks which allow a large or unlimited number of users to access the book at the same time. (We go further than this and aim to buy DRM-free ebooks when we can - see DRM (Digital Rights Management) explainer further down this page).

Sometimes however, for reasons of cost or availability, we have to provide access to ebooks which cap the number of simultaneous users. Here's an example in iDiscover of an ebook capped at three concurrent users:

Image of iDiscover showing that ebook has a 3-user concurrent access limit

At times of high demand, this cap can lead to waiting lists. Certain kinds of usage, for example downloading for offline reading, can cause bottlenecks in the queue.

In order to keep the queue moving and facilitate access for all, please be considerate when using ebooks that are restricted in this way. For example:

  • If you only need to use the ebook for a short period of time (e.g. to check references), consider using the 'read online' function, if there is one, rather than downloading.
  • Ensure that you close your browser when you have finished reading online.
  • If you only need to read part of a book, there is sometimes the option to permanently download a chapter or section to pdf. This type of downloading will not block others from accessing the ebook.
  • If you need to download the entire book for offline reading, you may be offered a choice of time periods for the download. Please consider other users and download the ebook for the minimum amount of time you can manage with. Remember that once your download has expired, you can rejoin the queue (if there is one) and download the ebook again. There is no limit to the number of times you can do this.

Platform hints and tips

This box highlights functionality for some of the most-used and quirky ebook platforms. Contact the ebooks team if you have any questions about these or any of our other 60+ ebook platforms.

Access and authentication IP recognition on campus. Requires Raven details off-campus.
Coverage All Cambridge University Press published (and open access) ebooks and selected ebooks from partner presses such as Liverpool University Press, Edinburgh University Press and Boydell & Brewer.
Digital Rights Management (DRM)? No. As with all electronic resources though, you should observe copyright regulations.
Simultaneous user access?

No limit.

 

Formats available All content is offered in pdf format with some also in HTML.
Do I need to create an account? Only if you wish to save searches and bookmark favourite content. Click 'Register'.
Downloading Yes. Chapters or entire ebooks can be downloaded to pdf or sent to Kindle.
Accessibility Read the accessibility statement for Cambridge Core.
Known issues
  • Occasionally content displays as 'Get access' and is locked, when it should be available.
  • We occasionally find chapters missing when trying to download pdfs.

In both cases, please contact us for help.

  •  'Search in this book' searches the book's metadata (title, author, chapter titles and descriptions), not the entire text. To search the entire text for keyword(s), download to pdf and use CTRL + F to search.

This box highlights functionality for some of our most-used and quirky platforms. Contact us if you have any questions about these or any of our other 60+ ebook platforms.

 

Access and authentication IP recognition on campus. Requires Raven details off-campus. Raven is also required for printing, copying and downloading on-campus.
Coverage Users should be able to access all titles visible on the platform.
Digital Rights Management (DRM)? Yes. Restricted printing and copying. Download maximum varies from 3 to 21 days, depending on publisher.
Simultaneous user access? Depends on title. Some ebooks are restricted to a maximum of 3 or 1 concurrent users. When the limit is reached, you will see a message 'Your institution has access to x copies of this book. All copies are currently in use. Please check back later, or search for another book.'
Formats available Read online (desktops, tablets and laptops only, NOT phones). PDF for chapter downloads and EPub for whole book downloads (whole book downloads available on phones).
Downloading

Yes. Book sections can be downloaded as pdfs and kept indefinitely (requires Raven). Some titles offer a full download to EPub of between 3 and 21 days. Please note that for ebooks capped at a maximum number of simultaneous users (e.g. 3-user access), downloading for offline reading can cause bottlenecks at times of high demand. Please avoid downloading the entire book if possible, or select the minimum time period you can manage with to facilitate access for all.

EPub requires Adobe Digital Editions. To download to iOS or Android devices you will also need Bluefire Reader and an Adobe ID.

Accessibility Ebook Central is designed for patrons with accessibility needs, particularly the blind and visually impaired. The platform has an accessibility mode which users can switch on themselves. For further information see this LibGuide from Ebook Central.
Known issues

Raven details are not normally needed to read an Ebook Central ebook on-campus. However, some titles will request Raven authentication the first time they are used. Users without Raven passwords should contact engcc@lib.cam.ac.uk for help in this circumstance.

When using a phone you will need to download the ebooks. 'Read online' is limited to the Detail page, Sign in and Download buttons.

This box highlights functionality for some of our most-used and quirky platforms. Contact us if you have any questions about these or any of our other 60+ ebook platforms.

Access and authentication IP recognition on campus. Requires Raven details off-campus.
Coverage Users should be able to access all titles visible on the platform.
Digital Rights Management (DRM)? Yes. Restricted printing, copying and saving. Download maximum 7 days.
Simultaneous user access? Depends on title. Some ebooks are restricted to a maximum of 3 or 1 concurrent users. When the limit is reached, you will see a message 'Sorry this book is in use'. Please try again later (you might need to refresh the screen).
Formats available PDF and EPub depending on publisher.
Do I need to create an account? You will need to create an account to download ebooks for offline reading. Follow the prompts after clicking the download button.
Downloading

Yes for most titles. Book sections can be saved as PDFs indefinitely. For some titles the whole book can be downloaded and read offline for up to 7 days using Adobe Digital Editions. An EBSCO eBooks app is available on the App Store® or Google Play™ for reading offline on Apple or Android devices (or use Bluefire Reader).

Watch a short tutorial video on downloading EBSCOhost ebooks.

Please note that for ebooks capped at a maximum number of simultaneous users (e.g. 3-user access), downloading for offline reading can cause bottlenecks at times of high demand. Please avoid downloading the entire book if possible, or select the minimum time period you can manage with to facilitate access for all.

Accessibility Read the EBSCO eBook Accessibility User Guide and FAQs

This box highlights functionality for some of our most-used and quirky platforms. Contact us if you have any questions about these or any of our other 60+ ebook platforms.

Access and authentication IP recognition on campus. Requires Raven details off-campus.
Coverage Only titles in: Management Studies and Business, Classics, Economics, History, Law, Linguistics, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Politics and International Relations, Religion, and Sociology, as well as Law content from Stanford University and Chicago University up to present. Biology, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology up to early 2009. Available titles show Image of open padlock denoting owned content
Digital Rights Management (DRM)? No. As with all electronic resources though, you should observe copyright regulations.
Simultaneous user access? No limit.
Formats available HTML and PDF
Do I need to create an account? Only if you wish to save searches or titles that you have previously viewed. See 'My Work' section of Oxford Scholarship Online for more details.
Downloading

Individual chapters can be downloaded to PDF and kept indefinitely. Display the chapter via the Table of Contents and click 'View PDF':

Screenshot of Oxford Scholarship Online showing link to view pdf

Accessibility Read the University Press Scholarship Online Accessibility Statement.

This box highlights functionality for some of our most-used and quirky platforms. Contact us if you have any questions about these or any of our other 60+ ebook platforms.

 

Access and authentication IP recognition on campus. Requires Raven details off-campus.
Coverage Selected book and protocol titles from Biomedicine, Computer Science, Life Sciences, Mathematics and Physics collections only. Unavailable content displays a Image of closed padlock denoting unowned content.
Digital Rights Management (DRM)? No. As with all electronic resources though, you should observe copyright regulations.
Simultaneous user access? No limit.
Formats available PDF and EPub. Some content also in HTML.
Downloading Yes. Chapters and entire ebooks can be downloaded to PDF. Entire books can also be downloaded to EPub. Pdf requires Adobe Reader and EPub requires Adobe Digital Editions (or Bluefire Reader if using an iPhone/iPad or Android device).

This box highlights functionality for some of our most-used and quirky platforms. Contact us if you have any questions about these or any of our other 60+ ebook platforms.

Access and authentication IP recognition on campus. Requires Raven details off-campus.
Coverage

The entire Torrossa catalogue of ebooks is listed in iDiscover, but to activate full text access on the Torrossa platform users must click on the lightbulb icon above the sample page and submit a request. Once a request is approved the ebook is activated and is available for all subsequent users.

Image of button to suggest a title for purchase on Torrossa

 

Digital Rights Management (DRM)?

Yes. Torrossa is 'DRM-lite'. Entire books can be downloaded as PDF files which will expire after 30 days. There is no limit on the number of times you can download titles. Printing and copy/paste is not available.

Simultaneous user access? No limit.
Formats available All content is offered in pdf format (expiring after 30 days)
Downloading

Yes. Ebooks download as PDF files which expire after 30 days. Downloading works much better if you download to Adobe Reader rather than your browser (if you open the PDF in your browser you will see a page of downloading instructions rather than the ebook itself). You may need to change your browser settings to do this:

Firefox:

  • Open the Firefox menu
  • Options >Files & Applications
  • Under Applications, select Portable Document Format (PDF) under Content type and switch to Adobe Acrobat Reader (you may need to look under 'User other') under Action

Chrome:

  • Open the Chrome menu https://www.technipages.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/3-dots-menu-icon.png, then choose Settings
  • Privacy and Security > Site Settings > Additional content settings
  • Scroll down and select PDF documents
  • Switch 'Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome' to On
Important Until ebooks on this platform are activated by a user request, only a sample page is visible. If you wish to access an ebook, please click on Suggest this title for purchase button and provide your details. The Italian Specialist will then liaise with you directly. Once a title has been approved and activated the ebook is available for all users and the Download button will appear.

This box highlights functionality for some of our most-used and quirky platforms. Contact us if you have any questions about these or any of our other 60+ ebook platforms.

Access and authentication Requires Raven login on and off-campus.
Coverage Users should be able to access all titles visible on the platform.
Digital Rights Management (DRM)? Yes. Restricted printing and copying. Download maximum varies from 1 to 5 days, depending on publisher.
Simultaneous user access? Depends on title. Some ebooks are restricted to a maximum number of concurrent users (1, 3 or occasionally more). When the limit is reached, the platform will inform you.
Formats available Read online (HTML) and EPUB.
Downloading

Yes. Entire ebooks can be downloaded to  EPUB, which requires Adobe Digital Editions (or Bluefire Reader or the VLeBooks app if using an iPhone/iPad or Android device).

Please note that for ebooks capped at a maximum number of simultaneous users (e.g. 3-user access), downloading for offline reading can cause bottlenecks at times of high demand. Please use 'read online' if possible, or select the minimum time period you can manage with to facilitate access for all.

Accessibility DRM-free PDF downloads are NOT available, but the platform itself has Accessibility Settings where you can e.g. set preferences for font and contrast, and the online reader offers options such as changing background colours and built-in Read Aloud. For further information see this VLeBooks Accessibility Statement.
Known issues

Some iPad, iPhone and iMac users have been unable to access ebooks in VLeBooks' “Read Online” mode, as many iOS devices block pop-ups by default. You may need to enable pop-ups to access ebooks in “Read Online” mode.

To enable pop-ups on your Safari browser (on iOS):

  1. Click on the Settings app icon.
  2. Under Settings, click on the Safari icon.
  3. Under General, swipe left on Block Pop-ups to turn pop-up blocking off.

Please also ensure that you are using Safari 5 or a more recent version.

To enable pop-ups on your Google Chrome browser (on iOS):

  1. Open the Chrome iOS app.
  2. Click the ‘More’ button (3 dots)
  3. Click the Settings menu.
  4. Scroll down and click on Content settings, and then select Block Pop-ups.
  5. Turn Block Pop-ups off

There is an intermittent problem affecting a number of “limited licence” ebooks on the platform. You may find that you receive the following error message when selecting either the “read online” or “download” options:

“Site Message: We cannot offer maximum issue title at the moment, please try again later.”

The supplier is aware and is urgently trying to resolve this fault. (August 2021)

Can I read ebooks on my Kindle?

Illustration of kindleKindle devices are designed to use Amazon's own e-book formats: AZW and AZW3 (KF8). Kindles do not support the ePub file format used by many of our ebook platforms and titles.

However, many of our ebooks are available wholly or in part as pdfs, and it is possible to read these on a Kindle. You can transfer pdfs to Kindle either by connecting the computer or device displaying the pdf via a cable, or by emailing the pdf as an attachment using Amazon's Send to Kindle service.

Cambridge Core has a handy 'Send to Kindle' button which guides you through this process, but any pdf can be transferred in this way.

Contact us

What is DRM?

Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes are access control technologies that restrict usage of copyrighted material, such as ebooks.

Ebook platforms often use DRM to restrict copying, printing and downloading. For example, VLeBooks limits the length of time that an ebook can be used offline and the number of pages that can be copied or printed.

Not all ebook platforms use DRM. DRM-free platforms (such as Cambridge Core, Taylor & Francis Online) impose no technical restrictions on the use of their content. However, users are obliged to observe copyright law as well as any licensing terms governing the use of a platform.

We recognise that DRM-free ebooks are more accessible for all of our users and we try to purchase these whenever they are available from suppliers.


Further ebooks information for Cambridge librarians can be found on the Cambridge Libraries Intranet.

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