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eBook Guide

What is an eBook, and why is reading a library eBook any different?

ebook iconWhen you use eBooks from a library they can appear differently to other online resources, like pdf reports and articles. This page explains what you need to know to use our eBooks easily.

The term eBook is an abbreviation for electronic book. It means a book that is available online in a full text format. The James Cook University Library’s eBooks are designed for research and can be read on any desktop or laptop computer and on a number of smart phone/tablet devices and eBook readers.

eBooks in digital format offer convenient access and enhanced search capabilities.  This guide presents eBook options available to James Cook University users.

Use eBooks in your research as you'd use print books

Tips about reading library eBooks

When you are reading a library eBook, you might start reading on the web page that it opened on, and that will be fine if you only need to read a few pages. If you want to download a chapter, within the usual copyright rules you can usually download a chapter as a pdf file with minimum fuss. If you want more of the book available to you in another format, you will need to follow the steps to download to your preferred device (computer, tablet, or phone).

Please note that there is no single, standard way of accessing eBooks:

  • Many can be downloaded as a PDF file
  • Some require Adobe Digital Editions to download
  • Others can only be read online

Downloading eBooks

eBook providers differ in the way they facilitate the downloading of their eBooks. While most procedures are similar there are differences which can cause confusion. In the following boxes the instructions for downloading from two major eBook providers at JCU have been supplied.

If you experience difficulties downloading any eBook, please check the eBook providers webpage for information or contact the Library for further support.

Downloading eBooks from EBSCOhost eBook Collection

To download an eBook:

  1. On the eBook information page, click the button on the left that says Download this eBook (Offline).
  2. Sign into your EBSCOhost account. If you do not have an account, create a free account using the link provided.
  3. Select the checkout period.
  4. Please note the Viewing requirements information at the bottom of the popup screen.
  5. Click Checkout and download

If an eBook cannot be downloaded, it might be that:

  • Some publishers only allow reading online and not downloading.
  • Each book can only be used by 1 person at a time. If the book is already checked out, a note will advise "this book is in use"

If you need help with any of these steps, please see the EBSCOhost support page, or contact the Library.

Readers and Devices

What is Digital Rights Management?

DRM is how publishers keep track of how long a book is checked out electronically.  The same way you have a loan for a regular book, when you download an ebook you have it for a certain amount of time DRM is how this is tracked. 

eBooks with Digital Rights Management require specialised readers. The two readers recommended below are supported by the major eBook providers used at JCU.

Desktops and laptops

For both Windows and MAC it is recommended that you use Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). The program is free to download and requires you to create a free Adobe account.

Mobile Devices

The free program Bluefire Reader is recommended for mobile devices, both Apple and Android, this reader requires the creation of a free Adobe account. Other DRM compatible readers are available. 


Most eReaders will read a PDF version of a book.

Kindle is not currently compatable with the way JCU offers most eBooks to our borrowers (free eBooks available via Gutenburg Project can be downloaded in Kindle format).

Kobo eReaders will read Adobe Digital Editions formatted books. You will need to download the eBook to a desktop version of ADE, then copy it over to your Kobo (you will need to authorise your Kobo first) Find the full instructions for opening ADE files here (note, you need to instal ADE to your computer to use this feature): Add eBooks with Adobe Digital Editions

Other eReaders that will accept ADE formats may also be compatible. You will need to authorise the devise and use your desktop version of ADE to upload the books to your device.

Adobe also maintains a list of supported devices and apps that will read Adobe DRM books. If the link given below does not work, search the Adobe site for "Kobo" or "Bluefire" and it should find the list.


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Creative Commons Licence
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.