Find and use e-books

How to find and use e-books as an alternative to borrowing items from the Library.

The library has lots of e-books, which you can access on your PC, laptop or mobile. And you don't have to visit the Library to use them.

Where you can find e-books

The best place to find individual e-books is LibrarySearch; to filter your search:

  • under the 'Library Resources' filter on the left: go to 'Format' and click Ebooks
  • under the 'Eresources' filter on the right: go to 'Source Type' and click Books

Each may bring up different results, so do try both options. Click Link to e-book or View Online and log in with your Kent IT Account details.

Have a look at our e-book collections as well, because:

  • a few of our e-books are not included in LibrarySearch
  • e-book collections are great for browsing, especially for books within subject areas.

Read online or download

Choose Read online rather than Download on a student PC. Downloading to a student PC doesn't work with all e-books, as you sometimes need special software.

You can Download the e-book to your own device, for which you may need specific software or an app, for example:

  • Adobe Digital Editions - software for PCs and Macs
  • BlueFire Reader - app for tablets and smartphones.

Download e-books to a PC or Mac

When you download e-books from some providers to a PC or Mac, you will be asked to download e-reader software, for example Adobe Digital Editions.

Opening an e-book on multiple devices

To read the same e-book in Adobe Digital Editions on multiple devices you need to an Adobe ID (signing up is free). Each device must be activated using the same Adobe ID.

When you download the book, it creates a .acsm file in the ‘Download’ area on your computer. When you open this file you will see a pop-up window that says 'Authorize Your Computer'.

  1. Set the ‘eBook Vendor’ dropdown to Adobe ID
  2. Enter your Adobe ID and password
  3. Click Authorize

Do not tick ‘I want to authorize my computer without an ID.’ It would tie the book to the device and you wouldn’t be able to access it on other devices.

When you open the e-book on another device you need to sign in with the same Adobe ID again to authorise the new device to access the book.

Removing authorisations

If you have tied the e-book to one device by authorizing without an ID you need to erase the authorisation from the device:

  1. open Adobe Digital Editions
  2. from the ‘Help’ menu choose Erase Authorisations.

Downloading e-books to a mobile device

On iOS and Android devices you need the Bluefire Reader app, which is free from the App Store and Google Play. You need an Adobe ID to use Bluefire Reader.  

Printing from e-books

Most e-book platforms will only allow you to print from within the 'Read online' view, not from an e-book you've downloaded. For copyright reasons you can usually only print 10% or one chapter, whichever is the greater.  

Access restrictions

There are sometimes restrictions to reading and downloading library e-books depending on the publisher licence or platform.

Limited user licence

For some e-books, the number of people who can access them at the same time is limited. When this limit is reached, you will be able to preview the e-book for 5 minutes or sometimes be given the option to be 'added to a queue'. If you choose to join the queue, you will be told how many users are already in the queue and asked for your email address. You will receive an email when the e-book becomes available.

Do not choose the option to buy a copy.

Time limits on downloads (1-3 days)

Downloading a Library e-book from some platforms (for example Ebook Central, Dawsonera) is a bit like borrowing a physical book: in some cases, only a limited number of people can download an e-book at the same time, so short download periods mean the book will be available to as many people as possible.

Downloading and printing

Some e-book platforms will only allow you to download or print a small proportion of the e-book for copyright reasons. Generally this is 10% or one chapter, whichever is the greater.

E-book features

Functionality varies between different e-book platforms, but most will enable you to:

  • search for keywords within the text
  • add notes electronically that you can then download or print.


Find out all the ways you can get in touch.

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