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eBooks/Online Book Collections

A guide on how to find and use ebooks in your research. How to work with various ebook platforms: reading, printing, and downloading on your computer or an ereading device.

Tips by Category

Reading ebooks on your computer or mobile device can be accomplished through a variety of options. The following sections contain tips for devices, software, and popular file formats.

Online vs. Download

Access: Online vs. Download
Many ebooks provided by Washington University Libraries are accessible through a web browser, much like journal databases, however not all ebooks are available as downloads that can be viewed while offline.
Ebooks that can be accessed offline as downloads to devices often require an Adobe ID and Adobe Digital Editions.

Recent News via The Digital Reader

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Things you need to consider when choosing a device:

  • Device Size: dimensions and weight determine portability.
  • Screen: screens range from 6 to 9.7 inches, are E Ink or backlit, and can feature touch options.
  • Battery Life: drastically different across devices, from ten hours to one month!
  • Access to Content: varying options for borrowing from WUSTL and buying from a retailer.
  • Network Access: WiFi and 3G are common options.
  • Software: features (highlight, bookmarks, searching) and operating system features (dictionary, apps).
  • Storage: quantity of megabytes/gigabytes are offered, along with cloud storage.
  • Price: Prices range from $79 ereaders to $499 tablets.  Consult a buying guide for details. 

E Ink (dedicated ebook readers)

Backlit Display (multi-functional tablets with color screens)

More Tips for Ereaders


Software can be dedicated to one device or accessible across platforms, letting you access accounts and ebooks on multiple devices. The following is a list software and supported platforms:

  • Kindle software
    • Available for Windows, OS X, iOS, BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Phone 7
  • Nook apps
    • Available for Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android
  • Google eBooks
    • Available on Android, iOS, iriver Story HD, and on any browser with Javascript enabled
  • Adobe Digital Editions
    • Available for Windows, OS X, iOS, Android
  • iBooks
    • Available on iOS

File Formats

Popular file format for downloadable ebooks
  • Kindle (.azw)
  • Comic Book Archive (.cbr, .cbz)
  • DjVu  (.djvu)
  • EPUB (.epub)
  • Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • Plain text (.txt)

To convert one format into another format, see Calibre