Acquiring Ebooks FAQs

Selecting ebooks for use in your courses can be a confusing and frustrating process. To help you manage your approach to ebook selection, here are a few key questions to consider. If you need help finding an alternative text for your class that is available as an ebook that the library can purchase, please reach out to your subject librarian.

Is it available as an ebook?

Not every book is published in an electronic format. For new books, print and ebook formats are often published at different times, and there can be a gap of months where only one format or the other is available.

Can the library afford it?

Institutional ebooks can be exorbitantly priced. We have seen ebooks that cost 2500% more than their print versions. The low price for a Kindle book or a downloaded PDF from a publisher site is never what the library pays.

Can the library acquire it?

Although you may find a particular ebook available for individual purchase via a publisher site or online retailer, that doesn't automatically mean it is available for institutional purchase or sold by our vendors.

Can the library provide access to it?

In addition to their licensing restrictions, most personal ebooks are in file formats that we cannot include in our electronic collection.

Can the library lend it?

Publishers can restrict licenses and add embedded digital rights management that precludes library lending. Even when lending is allowed, the publisher can restrict use (e.g., only one user at a time, page-limited downloads, etc.) in ways that can be impractical for teaching and course reserves.

What are access models?

Access models determine how many people can use or check out an ebook at the same time. For each ebook, the publisher determines what access models they will make available, at what prices, and on which platforms. In our catalog, access model information is often shown below the ebook link.

Please be aware that digital rights management limitations are separate from the access model, and the terminology can feel misleading. An "unlimited" ebook can still have restricted page downloads, a limited check out period, or require the use of a program like Adobe Digital Editions. In this case, 'unlimited' simply refers to the number of concurrent users.

Our most common access models are:
Unlimited Access / Unlimited User Access (UU, UA, EA)
Any number of people can use this resource at the same time. This is the library's preferred purchase option whenever possible. 
1-User Access (1U)
Only 1 person can use this resource at a time.
3-User Access (3U)
Up to 3 people can use this resource at the same time.
Nonlinear Access (NL) / Concurrent Access (CA)
Any number of people can use this resource at the same time for a set number of uses before we need to re-purchase the ebook.