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e-Books: Using e-books

What if I'm not a member of Oxford University?

If you have a Bodleian reader's card (with a gold strip across the top rather than a blue one), because you are not a current member of Oxford University, there are some limitations on what you can do with Oxford's ebooks.

  • You won't be able to access Oxford's ebook subscriptions from outside the library.
  • If you're in the library, either on a library PC or connected to the Bodleian Libraries wifi, you will be able to read ebooks online, download PDF chapters or sections, and download some entire ebooks (some of our packages do not allow this, others do).
  • You won't be able to download whole ebooks from Ebook Central - this is only permitted to University Members. You can still read them online in a browser, or download PDF chapters or sections.

Known issues

Oxford Scholarship Online ebooks on tablets

It is not currently possible to download chapters of ebooks from Oxford Scholarship Online directly from iPads and Android tablets, due to limitations with the mobile platform. Instead, you can download PDFs using a computer and transfer them to your tablet via email or similar.


Ebook Central ebooks


The page may continuously refresh or appear to flicker.


This is caused by the Mendeley extension for your browser. Temporarily disable the extension or use a browser without it to view the ebook.


Viewing Bodleian digitized books (Google Project)

Whilst using SOLO, you may find titles which have been digitized as part of the Google Project. These will be labelled with *** Digitized copy also available - see Details tab for link ***


Some browser pdf readers display pages as blank.


Whilst viewing in the browser, download the pdf to your computer or mobile device and read offline using Adobe Reader or similar pdf reader.

Downloading e-books to mobile devices

Ebooks from the Ebook Central, EBSCOhost, and Dawsonera platforms can be downloaded and used offline on a PC, tablet or e-reader for a limited period of time. The step-by-step guide below explains what you need to do to read these e-books on a tablet or e-reader

Required account and apps

Required account

Adobe ID

Due to DRM, you will need an Adobe ID in order to download e-books from Ebook Central and EBSCOhost e-books.

Use this account to authorize Adobe Digital Editions and/or Bluefire Reader.

Required apps

Adobe Digital Editions

To download, read on screen, and to transfer e-books to an e-reader you will need Adobe Digital Editions.

Adobe Digital Editions is compatible with Windows PCs and Macs (system requirements).

Bluefire Reader

To download and read e-books on a tablet you will need Bluefire Reader (freely available on the Android and Apple app stores).

Borrowing mobile devices

The Radcliffe Science Library has an iPad that can be borrowed for 7 days and the Social Science Library has four Nook e-readers that can be borrowed for 7 days.

Both of these devices can be used to read Ebook Central and EBSCO e-books offline.

Platform guide to downloading entire e-books

All e-books found through SOLO can be read online via a browser. However some platforms also allow you download e-books to use offline, if you have an Oxford Single Sign On.

If you do not have an Oxford Single Sign On, you may still be able to download chapters or selected pages, and can still read these books online in the library. You won't be able to access Oxford's ebook subscriptions from outside the library.

Ebook Central, EBSCOhost and Dawsonera allow you to download entire e-books to read offline for a limited time in either the EPUB or PDF file format. Once the loan expires you can download the e-book again.

e-book platform Loan length Formats available
Ebook Central 1 day or 14 days (varies by individual title) PDF, EPUB
EBSCOhost 1 day PDF, EPUB
Dawsonera 1 day PDF, EPUB

These e-books use digital rights management (DRM) and you will need an Adobe ID account and either Adobe Digital Editions (software for PCs and Macs) or Bluefire Reader (app for tablets and smartphones).

For more information see the table below for the compatibility of the most common mobile e-readers.

Saving a chapter as PDF

If you just want a copy of a chapter as a PDF to keep, you don't need to download the entire e-book - simply use the tools provided on the platform to save or print a PDF.

On other platforms, like Oxford Scholarship Online and Cambridge Companions Online the entire e-book cannot be downloaded to use offline. However, most of these sites do allow you to save or print a single chapter as a PDF.

For more information on copying text, saving chapters, printing, and downloading ebooks, choose from the guides below.

Device compatibility

Device Read entire e-book? (PDF/EPUB) Required app/PC software Adobe ID required? Can read single saved chapters? (PDF)
Windows PC or Mac Yes Adobe Digital Editions Yes Yes
Android, iOS tablets, Kindle Fire Yes Bluefire Reader Yes Yes
Kindle* No N/A N/A Yes
NOOK Simple Touch Yes Adobe Digital Editions (to transfer e-book) Yes Yes
Sony e-Reader Yes Adobe Digital Editions (to transfer e-book) Yes Yes
Kobo Yes Adobe Digital Editions (to transfer e-book) Yes Yes

*See below for more information about how to use Oxford e-Resources with a Kindle.

Using Oxford e-Resources on Kindles

The Amazon Kindle does not offer the same functionality as other mobile e-Readers (see above table for more information). The guide below explains what you will be able to do with Oxford e-Resources and a Kindle e-Reader.

In general, Kindles can read PDF documents but not EPUBs. Amazon have their own ebook formats (.mobi or .azm) which are not compatible with other ereaders (Nooks, Kobos), but there are a range of Kindle apps for tablets, smartphones, and computers which enable you to read Amazon ebooks on them.

Sending PDF Chapters

Ebook platforms which allow you to download a chapter or selected pages as a PDF mean you can read some portions of ebooks on a Kindle. Cambridge Core also offer a Send to Kindle option on chapters of their ebooks and articles of their ejournals.

To send a PDF to your Kindle, you need to go to and Manage your Content and Devices. Under Settings you will find an email address for your Kindle (usually something Under that there is an Approved Personal Document E-mail List. You will need to add your own email address to this list, and '' if you want to use Cambridge Core's Send to Kindle option. This prevents other email addresses spamming your Kindle or infecting it with viruses.

Now begin writing an email to your Kindle's email address from your own email address, which you have added. Attach the PDF you want to send, and leave the contents and subject blank. Make sure your Kindle is connected to WiFi (if you have 3G on your Kindle Amazon will charge you to deliver the document). Send the email and wait a few minutes. The PDF should arrive on your Kindle for you to read.

To use Cambridge Core's Send to Kindle option, click the button with a k at the top of a book chapter or journal article. Fill in the details of your Kindle's email address, make sure your Kindle is connected to WiFi, tick the terms and conditions box, and click Send. In a few minutes the PDF should arrive.

Converting PDFs

If you are emailing a PDF yourself, you can ask Amazon to try and convert it to a .azm ebook format. To do this, send the email as before, attaching the PDF, but write 'convert' as the email's subject line. This can have mixed results - Oxford University Press's ebook chapters can work very well, but others may not work at all. The advantage of converting is that you can resize and reflow the text more easily, as well as search, navigate and highlight texts better. 

If you have the software Calibre on your computer, you can also use this to convert PDFs and unencrypted EPUBs to Amazon formats. However, Oxford's ebooks which allow full downloading cannot be converted in this way.