eBook Collections Usage Guide: About eBooks

A comprehensive guide to using the Marriott Library's ebook collections.

What Is An eBook?

eBooks are simply digital representations of text in the format of a book. Sometimes ebooks are digitized versions of print works, sometimes they are released alongside a print version, and sometimes ebooks are 'born digital', meaning there never was a print version at all - only the ebook was published. In recent years, ebooks have become popular as a media format, and a variety of specialized 'e-reader' devices along with ebook stores have made ebooks widely available and accessible to the public. 

The Marriott Library has been purchasing ebooks since around the year 2000. Because ebooks are digital, they have many advantages over print books - they take up no physical space, they can often be read by many people at once, they cannot be lost or damaged, and they can be used even if a patron never enters the library. eBooks can come in a variety of formats, and there are many ways to read them (see eBook Formats for more information). eBooks can even be printed and used as 'normal' books, either on a regular printer or (in some cases) on the Marriott Library's Espresso Book Machine.

How Do I Use eBooks?

eBooks can be used in many ways. Depending on the restrictions of the ebook collection you are browsing, you can read ebooks in a web browser, download them to your computer, and take them with you on your phone or other portable device. You will usually need to be on the University of Utah's network or authenticated with us through our proxy service to use our collections - publishers want to know that their ebooks are being used by the right people and restrict access so that students, faculty, and other library patrons get exclusive access to their databases. To many first-time users, the restrictions and software requirements on using ebooks can be confusing, but once you get the hang of it using ebooks can be faster, more convenient, and more reliable than checking out paper books all the time. (For more information, see Using Our Collections.)

Guide Author

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Mary Ann James
Electronic Resources Manager
J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
801 581 8077
Marriott Library Eccles Library Quinney Law Library