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Downloading e-books and e-research to your computer/e-reader (Tutorial)  

Covers using a computer to read electronic book and electronic article files offline; also covers downloading these materials to the Nook Simple Touch, Kindle 3G Keyboard, iPad, Google Nexus, Galaxy Tablet and Microsoft Surface
Last Updated: Aug 13, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Computer as e-reader Print Page

Your computer vs. dedicated e-readers, smart e-readers and tablets

This is a guide that will undoubtedly be growing, as e-readers, smart-phones and tablets proliferate.

Many e-books can be read offline using your computer as an e-reader, however we also started looking at how e-books and articles might be downloaded to with mobile e-reader models, especially those more popular models which are dedicated primarily to text (rather than hosting music, video or games) and those which did not "auto-download" or "auto-synch" your e-research with your e-reader, hence  we started with Nook Simple Touch and Kindle as well as iPad.  The guide will expand to include other devices, including those our community members would like to experiment with.

Note also that much of the information on these guides has been gleaned from the "Help" tutorials and "Frequently Asked Questions" section of the reader/provider website, so if the model you use is not covered by this guide, it may be just a few clicks away!

Some E-Books Collections to get you started

For a full list of e-book resources and more information on e-books by subject, see the e-books libguide

  • Community Text
    From the folks at Internet Archive and Open source texts browseable by Collection, Subject / Keywords and Language
  • Project Gutenberg
    Largely public domain works; be sure to look at the translator, if you need to read a particular translation/edition.
  • Hathitrust Digital Library
    Ever-growing collection of digitized copies of rare books from contributing libraries. You may not be able to download all of the books, but they are available to consult online, and in "searchable format" so you can find word-usage patterns, etc.
  • more recent E-books from the St. John's Library Catalog
    The other collections on this list allow you to get older books, either rare or out of print...the e-books accessible through our catalog will be by more recent authors. Narrow your search in the catalog by adding "ebook" to your search terms. Look for the "click here to access online" link and check through the Table of Contents
  • EBSCO eBook Collection
    (Keep in mind that downloading an e-book is like "checking it out" -- the copy will not be available for others to use during your lending period.)

Adobe Digital Editions

Adobe Digital Editions is primarily a Digital Rights Management (DRM) tool -- you will need to download ADE in order to be able to "check-out" many e-books to read them offline -- we suggest ADE over other e-reader management tools because it works with e-books checked out from our Ebsco e-books platforms as well as with books checked-out from your local library.  Additionally, content which has been purchased/downloaded an .epub format (like from Project Gutenberg), you need to use ADE to get those books onto a NOOK device.

A note on the ADOBE ID PROMPT:   Note: if you want to read "checked-out" books on a mobile device (not just on your computer) when you download ADE, you will want to also create an ADOBE ID -- this allows you you download the file to both your computer and to another device during the load period.


Downloading Tips


If you see that the file in your "downloads" folder has a strange name or has spaces or non alpha-numeric characters, you might consider opening the file from your download folder, and renaming it (while maintaining the final file extension), and saving it to your desktop (a) to have the filename make sense when you load it on to your mobile device (b) to lower the risk of your file being "unreadable" to your e-reader.


e-book: Look, feel and pagination

Depending on how the book was "born" (print or digital), how the book displays may vary.  Print books that have been scanned and formatted for HTML, epub or PDF may all look different in your e-reader.  Note that digi-born e-books and Scanned-PDF books and articles will mostly keep the same pagination; some OCR-scanned copies may include a page number with the text (but even these are not entirely accurate). Consult your discipline's citation guide for how to cite pagination on an e-book.



 On the following date there will be a workshop on handling e-book files.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 10:30am - 11:30 St. Augustine Hall Lib (Q) 110 & Online - Register     


e-research on your devices, workshops and appointments

The Lib 110 lab acts as a “technology petting zoo”  for hands-on exploration of newer devices, explore, and ask questions!  We can also demonstrate how a particular device (iPads, Kindles, Nooks, Google Nexus, Galaxy Tablet, and MS surface.) can be used in research and teaching, and how to use it to access St. John’s Research resources. In addition to  our in-library or online workshops, workshops, you can also contact the "author" on the corresponding device guide to request a 1:1 appointment  or to request a workshop  for your class or group.

E-Books For Research / handling e-book files Q/O (register)
Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 10:30am - 11:30am 
St. Augustine Hall Lib (Q) 110 & Online     
Whether you are off-continent or just off-campus, this session will help you find current e-books, or digitized classics for your scholarly research.

Finding Library e-Resources

This guide is designed to help you transfer information to your e-reader, assuming you have already located your research materials. 

NOTE:  Not all e-books in our databases or in the e-book repositories will be available for download, some may only be available to read online.

Sample screenshots of our most popular e-book and article databases (which do allow some e-resources to be downloaded) are displayed below.  For more information on finding e-research materials, please consult the LibGuides at the bottom of this box.

Project Gutenberg:  Be sure to check the Bibrec to find the Edition, editor and or translator of a work.  Scholarly research may favor a particular translator or edition over another. 

NOTE: Haithi Trust books are very high quality PDF copies, each file can be about 1.5 GB or more.  You may need extra storage to move a HTBook to an e-reader

EBSCO E-BOOKS  (Keep in mind that downloading an e-book is like "checking it out" -- the copy will not be available for others to use during your lending period.

"Download this ebook" is designed for reading the book on your computer or tablet -- not really a dedicated e-reader; note the caveats on the download screen:

if you want to export specific chapters as PDFs you can use the table of contents to find salient chapters and mail chapters to yourself in PDF format.  (Note: the page limits for printing/emailing PDFS will change from Book to book; it will be posted on the interface when you go to the "email" link".) 

If you add "" to the list of approved senders for your Amazon/kindle (Personal Documents settings), you can email the chapter directly to your kindle account.

·         How to Download an eBook to a Mac or Windows Computer Card

·         How to Download an eBook to an iPad or Android Tablet Card

·         How to Download an eBook to an iPhone, iPod or Android Phone Card



If your computer is incompatible with the version of PDF that the database offers, it may display the article in a special PDF display, use the download icon to obtain a version for you to transfer to your reader, or email a copy of the PDF to yourself.


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