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Ebooks: Using ebooks

Why can't I read this ebook?

The Bodleian Libraries buy ebooks with a range of different access options (licences). Many can be used by any number of people at the same time, while some can only be used by a limited number, e.g. one, two, or three. This will be shown on the ebook page, e.g.

screenshot of an Ebook Central ebook with a ring drawn around the text saying "Your institution has access to 1 copy of this book".

Sometimes, when trying to access and ebook from SOLO, you may get a message that all copies are currently in use, e.g.

Screenshot of an Ebook Central ebook with a ring round the message "All copies are currently in use. Please check back later, or search for another book."

You will not be able to read the ebook online or download it until a copy becomes available.

Some platforms (VLeBooks, and EBSCO) allow you to enter your email and join a queue for the book. They will email you when the book becomes available again.

Screenshot of an EBSCO ebook popup message saying "Sorry this eBook is in use...Please sign in to place a hold on this eBook."

Ebook Central does not allow this - you will need to check back later to see if the book is available. The last copy of a ProQuest ebook will also not be available for download, only reading online in the browser - this is to make sure it is available for the maximum amount of time.

Accessing ebooks as non-University member

If you do not have an Oxford Single Sign-On (e.g. if you have a gold Bodleian Reader card or are not a member of Oxford University) then you will not have remote access to Oxford's subscription ebooks (some ebooks on SOLO may be open access and freely available for anyone to read).

You may also not be able to download entire ebooks for a limited length of time (this depends on the website the ebook is from) but should be able to download sections as PDF documents.

You can still use ebooks when in any of the Bodleian Libraries, either on our desktop PCs or your own laptop when connected to the Bodleian Libraries wifi network.

Known issues

Some browser pdf readers display pages as blank.

Try clearing your cache and cookies or using a different browser. If the problem persists, download the pdf to your computer or mobile device and read offline using a PDF reader (e.g. Adobe Reader DC).

Ebooks and Adobe

Adobe ID

Due to Digital Rights Management (DRM), you will need to register for an Adobe ID in order to download ebooks from Ebook Central, EBSCOhost, and VLeBooks.

Use this account to then authorize your Adobe Digital Editions software/app.

Adobe Digital Editions

You will need Adobe Digital Editions to download Oxford's ebooks to a computer or device for a limited amount of time (a loan). This is offered by Ebook Central, EBSCOhost, and VLeBooks.

Adobe Digital Editions is compatible with Windows PCs and Macs. An app version is available for mobile devices and tablets, both iOS and Android.

iOS users can alternatively download the paid app Bluefire Reader from the App Store.

You will also need Adobe Digital Editions to transfer ebooks to a Nook or Kobo

Borrowing mobile devices

The Social Science Library has four Nook ereaders that can be borrowed for 7 days at a time:

Oxford ebooks and Kindles

The Amazon Kindle does not offer the same functionality with Oxford ebooks as other mobile ereaders (see above table for more information).

In general, Kindles can display PDF documents but not EPUBs. Amazon have their own ebook formats (.mobi or .azw) which are not compatible with other ereaders (Nooks, Kobos), but there are a range of Kindle apps available for tablets, smartphones, and computers.

Sending PDF Chapters - setup

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 be able to send PDFs to your Kindle, you need to set some options up first.

Go to, sign in, and go to Manage your Content and Devices.

Select 'Preferences', 'scroll down', and select 'Personal Document Settings'.

Here  you will find an email address for your Kindle and any other Kindle apps and devices you have registered (usually something

There is also 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 from sending spam to your Kindle or infecting it with viruses.

Sending a PDF to your Kindle

Open a blank email to send to your Kindle's email address from your own email address.

Attach the PDF you want to send, and leave the contents and subject of the email blank.

Send the email.

Make sure your Kindle is connected to WiFi (if you have 3G on your Kindle Amazon will charge you to deliver the document).

Check your email for a verification email - you need to confirm that you want something to be sent to your Kindle.

The PDF should arrive on your Kindle for you to read - you may need to synchronise your Kindle.

Cambridge Core 'Send to Kindle'

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 (if you select it will only deliver over wifi), tick the terms and conditions box, and click 'Send'.

Check your email for a verification email - you need to confirm that you want something to be sent to your Kindle.

The PDF should arrive on your Kindle for you to read - you may need to synchronise your Kindle.

Converting PDFs

If you are emailing a PDF yourself, you can ask Amazon to try and convert it to a .azw ebook format. To do this, send the email as above, 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.

Accessing ebooks as a University member

If you are a member of Oxford University and are using a university computer (e.g. a desktop in a department, faculty, or library), you will be able to access most electronic resources without requiring a username or password. You will also be able to do this if you are using your own device and connected to the Bodleian Libraries wifi network.

If you are using a laptop or mobile device on wifi (other than Bodleian Libraries wifi) or data, sign in to SOLO (click 'sign in' in the top-right corner) with your Oxford Single Sign-On (SSO) before searching for ebooks.

This will give you remote access to all ebook platforms as well as most databases, electronic reference works and ejournal packages.

If you have forgotten your SSO or need help with it please visit the IT Services username web page.

Platform guide to downloading entire ebooks

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

Ebook CentralEBSCOhost, and VLeBooks allow you to download entire ebooks to read offline for a limited time in either the EPUB or PDF file format. Once the loan expires you will need to download the ebook again.

ebook platform Loan length
Ebook Central 1 day or 14 days (varies by individual title)
EBSCOhost 1 day
VLeBooks 1 day

These ebooks use digital rights management (DRM) and you will need to create a free Adobe ID and install either Adobe Digital Editions (software for PCs and Macs, app for tablets and smarphones). See the Ebooks and Adobe box for more information.

For more information see the table below for the compatibility of the most common ereaders like Kindles, Nooks, and Kobos.

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 ebook - 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 ebook 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 ebook? Required  software Adobe ID required? Read indivdual saved chapters? (PDF)
Windows PC or Mac Yes Adobe Digital Editions Yes Yes
Android tablets, iPads Yes Adobe Digital Editions (app version) Yes Yes
Kindle* No N/A N/A Yes
Nook Yes Adobe Digital Editions (to transfer ebook) Yes Yes
Kobo Yes Adobe Digital Editions (to transfer ebook) Yes Yes

*See the Oxford ebooks and Kindles box for more information.