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E-books Tips and Hints

A guide to using e-book resources provided by the Bernard Becker Medical Library.

User Limits

Some e-book platforms limit the number of people who can view an e-book at the same time. This often varies from one title to another. If you attempt to view an e-book, you may see a message saying that it is in use and asking you to try again later. You are most likely to see that on Ebook Central and e-books on EBSCOhost.

Creating a User Account

A number of e-book platforms provide extra features if you create a free user account.  Some features are as simple as the ability to highlight and add notes to a text.  Other times, it is required for printing, downloading or access to material from a mobile app.

Downloading e-books

All of our e-book platforms will allow you to view titles online. Additionally, some will let you download the title in one format or another.

PDFs: Several e-book platforms allow you to download a PDF free of any restrictions. These include SpringerLink, ScienceDirect and Wiley Online Library. These can then be read offline or transferred to mobile devices

Adobe Digital Editions: Two providers, allow you to download e-books to Adobe Digital Editions. E-books can then be transferred to compatible e-readers, where they will show up on your bookshelf. Adobe Digital Editions is available with a free license at You can see a list of supported e-readers here:

Plain Text: Some providers, including Books@Ovid, allow you to export e-books as plain text.

Mobile Apps: Some providers have apps: Mobile Medical Apps Subject Guide

Printing Limits

The usual method of printing for e-books is to be able to print from one section or PDF at a time. Federal copyright law allows for duplication or incorporation of content only under the conditions of Fair Use. Any other use requires the explicit permission of the publisher.

Some e-book platforms limit the number of pages that can be printed. This often varies from one title to another.  On these platforms an attempt to print more than the allowed pages of an e-book will display a message saying that only a certain number of pages or a certain percentage of the text may be printed.

See the E-book Collections Quick Reference page if you have questions about a particular e-book platform.


While many e-book formats exist, EPUB is emerging as the industry standard, readable on most major tablets and e-readers except the Kindle (which uses Amazon's own proprietary format). The newest version of EPUB allows for compatibility across a wide variety of devices and provides publishers with formatting control, interactivity, and accessibility features.

See the EPUB site for more: