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eBooks: Understanding eBooks

A guide to accessing and using ebooks available at Monash University

eBooks at Monash University

eBooks are books in an online or digital format, and Monash University Library is always adding new eBook titles to our collection.

Like print books, eBooks come in all shapes and sizes - range, access, downloading, and printing conditions may vary depending on the vendor platform, and/or eBook publisher.

In general, eBooks allow for more people to access material at any one time, and for this reason, Monash University Library has an e-preferred policy - where a book is available in e-format, we will purchase this instead of the physical copy. Please note that some eBook publishers do not make their products available for purchase by institutions.

eTextbooks are growing in popularity and availability, however some titles still require purchase in print format.

eBooks and copyright

While print books are always purchased outright, eBooks can be made accessible via the Library in two ways:

  1. Outright Purchase:
    These eBooks are typically purchased individually.
  2. Package Subscription:
    These eBooks are typically accessible for the limit of a subscription (usually one year) - after this date, if the subscription lapses, the eBook will be unavailable.

eBooks purchased via package subscription may have more limitations on number of loans, and ability to print. If you have any questions about eBook access and usage from the perspective of copyright, please refer to to Monash's Copyright Intranet.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) and eBooks

Digital Rights Management (DRM) affects the way in which users can interact with eBooks (especially in terms of downloading and printing eBook content).

  • eBooks that are provided by their publishers via their own publisher platform will typically be DRM-free, as the publisher owns the rights to content they are providing.
  • eBooks that are provided by aggregators (companies that facilitate access to, but do not own the rights to the content of the eBooks they provide) via an aggregator platform will typically have DRM restrictions to printing and downloading applied. Examples of aggregator platforms include ProQuest eBook Central, and EBSCO.

It is important to note that an eBook listed as being 'Unlimited' typically applies to the nature of accessing the eBook (i.e. an unlimited number of users will be able to access the eBook). There may still be restrictions on the amount of that eBook's content that can be downloaded and/or printed.

User licences and eBooks

Different eBooks have different rules that determine how many users can access an eBook's content at any given time. These rules are called User Licences, and are set by the publisher.

  • 1-User:
    Only one user can access the eBook at any time - if a second user tries to access the eBook, they will be unsuccessful.
  • 3-User:
    Only three users can simultaneously access the eBook at any time - if a fourth user tries to access the eBook, they will be unsuccessful.
  • Non-Linear or Concurrent:
    An unlimited amount of simultaneous users can access the eBook, a limited amount of times. Each time a user accesses an eBook (and exceeds the free viewing time/copies, prints, or downloads content from the eBook), this counts as one loan. Non-Linear/Concurrent eBooks generally allow between 200-325 loans of an eBook per year.
    ProQuest and EBSCO use the term 'multiple copies' to indicate a Non-Linear/Concurrent licence.
  • Unlimited:
    An unlimited number of users can simultaneously access the eBook.
  • DRM-Free:
    There are no limitations on downloading, printing, or saving DRM-Free eBook content. For more information about Digital Rights Management (DRM), see the Digital Rights Management (DRM) and eBooks section of this Guide.

Glossary of terms

  • Adobe Digital Editions:
    Software used to read downloaded eBooks on a Windows PC, or Apple Mac.
  • Adobe ID:
    An Adobe ID is required to read eBooks via Adobe Digital Editions. To register for an Adobe ID, please visit the Adobe accounts site - be sure to register using your Monash Student/Staff email.
  • Bluefire Reader:
    An app used to read downloaded eBooks on an iOs device (e.g. iPad, iPhone).
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM):
    DRM is access-control technology which locks eBooks so they can only be read with particular software.
  • DRM-Free:
    ​eBooks which are DRM-Free can be downloaded and read using any PDF viewer, on any device.
  • ePub:
    An eBook file format which allows its text to be reformatted to fit your screen and preferred font size. This option can be useful for reading text-heavy eBooks on a small device.
  • PDF:
    An eBook file format which displays pages with the exact same layout as in a print book. This option can be useful for eBooks which feature diagrams, illustrations, tables, and complex page layouts - but they are better suited to being read on large screens.