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Our Services: Reading Lists: Academic ebooks

A guide on how to create and maintain reading lists using Talis Aspire

About academic ebooks

Academic e-books are not like the ones we are accustomed to reading on Kindles and e-readers. Sometimes there are limitations on their use that it is important to be aware of.

For ebooks provided by Ebsco, Ebook Central, or VLeBooks, check that the number of copies and the options for saving extracts is sufficient for the number of students undertaking the module and for the intended purpose.

The number of pages that can be saved/printed is set by the publisher and we cannot have those adjusted. There is, however, often flexibility on the number of 'copies' we can make available. There is not always an unlimited option available but we can usually increase access by purchasing multiple licences. Please alert if any of your module’s key readings are contained in single-copy e-books and we will investigate options available for improving access.

Please encourage your students to follow the advice in the section marked ‘Advice for students’.

It is strongly recommended that you check the library provisions of all key readings described in you module handbooks or reading list as soon as you get them. If any are only available through EbscoEbook Central, or VLeBooks it is advisable to check the provisions described below and, if there are restrictions, access the books as soon as possible to save or print the sections you need (subject to any limits imposed) so they are accessible when you need them.

In Ebook Central you can download full chapters straight from the Table of Contents without having to occupy one of the 'copies', providing there is at least one copy not being used. In Ebsco or VLeBooks, or where you do not need full chapters, use the 'view online' option and save the pages you need to read. Once saved, you will have permanent access to those pages.

As the 'download' option blocks access for others for longer, please only use it where there is a genuine need for extended use. The 'read online' option cycles availability much more swiftly.

If you cannot access the book immediately, it is worth trying again later, as usually one of the 'copies' cannot be checked out and so functions as a 'reference' copy that is put back as soon as the current borrower closes their browser window.

Please alert if you are experiencing difficulties obtaining key extracts from e-books.

Purchase models

Most of our e-books are available either within subject-based collections we have purchased, or as individual titles purchased from library suppliers. All of our e-books can be found by searching for their titles on the library catalogue or on Discover.

Access models

While most of our e-books are available 24x7, some titles provided by Ebsco, Ebook Central, or VLeBooks feature Digital Rights Management (DRM) that restricts how they can be used. Generally these limits will be:

  1. The number of 'copies' available to consult
  2. The number of pages that can be saved, printed, or cut and pasted for permanent offline access.

Where 'copies' are described, each can usually be accessed in one of two ways:

  1. Read online. The book is streamed a page or section at a time through a reading screen in the web browser and requires a live Internet connection. While somebody is doing this, that copy is not available for anybody else to consult until the browser window is closed. This is the equivalent of taking a reference copy off the shelf, consulting it at a desk, then returning it to the shelf.
  2. Download. The whole book is saved to your computer or portable device for a fixed period set by the Library. During this time nobody else can consult this copy and it cannot be 'returned' early. This is the equivalent to checking a print copy out of the library and taking it away. During the checkout period, the person who has borrowed it can consult the book without needing to be connected to the Internet.

You can usually save, print or copy and paste sections from ebooks for permanent access. This is equivalent to making a photocopy from a print book. In Ebsco, Ebook Central, and VLeBooks there are restrictions on how much you can save in this way.

All of the above restrictions, except for the checkout period, are set by the publisher, not the Library. We can usually buy more 'copies' where needed but we cannot change how much can be saved.


These sites describe any restrictions when you first arrive at the book's page. If such restrictions are not presented clearly, it can usually be assumed that there are none.