eBook Collections Usage Guide: Downloading and DRM

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

Downloading and DRM Overview

While all of our ebooks can be viewed online in your web browser, there may be times when you wish to download an ebook to your computer or device for offline reading. Not all of our ebook collections allow you to do this (see Access Restrictions), but if they do the process usually involves either downloading unencrypted PDFs or using Adobe Digital Editions to download DRM-protected files.The confusing part is that some PDFs will come protected by DRM, and some will not. A quick way to tell which sort of PDF you are dealing with is to check the file extension of any ebook you download - if the file ends in .pdf, it usually is not encrypted and should work without restrictions (see Useful Software for more information about PDFs). If the file ends in .acsm (whether it was described as a PDF or not), you are dealing with an Adobe Digital Editions file. If you don't need to use an ebook that has DRM restrictions, you can skip to the next box. Otherwise, read on for a quick overview of DRM and setup instructions for Adobe Digital Editions.

What is DRM?

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, refers to technology which limits or controls how digital media is used. When a piece of digital media is protected by DRM, it cannot be accessed unless the user meets certain criteria. A piece of software that needs a license key to install is protected by DRM, as is an MP3 which can only be played on a given computer or burned to CD a fixed number of times. In the case of ebooks, DRM typically restricts which devices and programs can view the ebook, if the ebook can be printed (and if so, how many pages can be printed), and whether the ebook can simply be downloaded and transferred between devices as a 'normal' file or if it must be viewed in a specific browser or program.

While the Marriott Library attempts to purchase and license ebooks which do not contain DRM restrictions, many of the ebooks in our collections are encumbered by DRM. Because we buy ebooks from a variety of publishers, we do not have much control over the DRM the collections have; many publishers simply do not wish to provide DRM-free media. Generally, this is to prevent duplication, sharing or printing of items that are not intended to be copied or redistributed. As a general rule, in order to read an ebook that you downloaded from one of our databases that has DRM, you will need to use a program that specifically supports the type of DRM in the ebook file. Most databases provide information about the DRM they use and more detailed instructions on how to use their files on help pages, which you should consult for more information about a specific database. By far, the most common form of DRM in our collections is Adobe's 'ADEPT' DRM. To use these ebooks, you must use a program called Adobe Digital Editions.

Adobe Digital Editions

Before you can access ebooks that use Adobe's DRM, you will need to set up Adobe Digital Editions on your computer. For a more general description of Adobe Digital Editions, see Useful Software - this part of the guide covers the setup process. First, you will need to download the installer from Adobe's website. Once you have completed the installation (follow Adobe's instructions on this), you will see the following screen.

Adobe Digital Editions - Login Screen

To proceed, you will need to have an Adobe account. If you do not already have one, follow the links provided to set one up, then log in with the email address and password you provided to Adobe. This process is free of charge. Click the 'Activate' button to continue to the next screen.

Adobe Digital Editions Library

Once you've logged in and activated your computer, you will see the above screen. This is the 'library' view of Adobe Digitial Editions, where all the Digital Editions ebooks you've downloaded will show up. As mentioned earlier, when you download a file that uses Adobe's DRM, it will have the file extension .acsm. Let's assume you've already downloaded one (if you haven't, see the next box on this page for information about downloading these ebooks from our collections). Shown below is an example of how to open an .acsm file. If you've set up Digital Editions, these files should open automatically, but if not you can right click the file and choose 'open with Adobe Digital Editions' to proceed.

Opening an eBook With Adobe Digital Editions

After you've opened the file as shown above (or if it opened automatically upon download) you will see a downloading notification in Adobe Digital Editions. This means that the rest of the ebook content is being loaded into Digital Editions - the file you download originally does not contain the actual ebook, and is more of a 'link' that Adobe Digital Editions uses to get the 'real' ebook file. Once the ebook has finished downloading, it will appear as shown below.

Adobe Digital Editions - Reading View

This is the 'reading' view. Here you can navigate through the ebook by chapter or by searching if the ebook supports it. Clicking on the 'books' icon at the top left will take you back to the 'library' view so that you can manage or read other ebooks. Shown below is an example of a library in which a few ebooks have already been downloaded.

Adobe Digital Editions - eBooks in the Library

Notice that each ebook has a small banner on the top right that indicates how long it will be available. Most ebooks that require Adobe Digital Editions also come with time limits, which can range anywhere from a couple of hours to multiple days. At the end of the time limit, the banner on the ebook will turn red and say 'expired', after which the ebook is no longer readable and must be downloaded again. As shown above, two of the ebooks in this library have already expired, while the other one will continue to function for 5 days. Once you've completed the setup process for Adobe Digital Editions, you are ready to download ebooks from our collections. Proceed to the next box for instructions on doing so.

Downloading Guide

Here is an overview of downloading from three of our largest ebook vendors - EBL, EBSCO, and ebrary. The process is similar across all of our ebook databases, but these three were chosen because they contain so many ebooks, and they all use (sometimes optionally) Adobe Digital Editions ebooks. For each database, the process is outlined in a series of numbered steps - you can refer to the pictures to find what each step in the process is referring to. For more detailed instructions on a given ebook collection, please consult the database's help page, usually located in a link at the top right of the screen.


eBooks from EBL can be accessed through our catalog search (see Accessing eBooks for more information). When clicking on an ebook from EBL, you will be required to log in with your uNID and password, even if you are on campus. After logging in, you will be taken to the ebook overview, where you can click the 'Read Online' button to proceed to the following screen.

Downloading from EBL

  1. Select the 'Download' tab located at the left side of the screen. You will need to be in the 'reading view' for an ebook (pictured above) to see this tab.
  2. Choose the 'loan' length for the ebook you are trying to download. This option is not always available for EBL titles, but the vast majority will let you choose a loan length anywhere from one to seven days. This is how long the ebook will be available in Adobe Digital Editions before it expires.
  3. Hit 'Download'. If your ebook does not immediately open, navigate to your download folder and find the .acsm file, then open it with Adobe Digital Editions.


EBSCO ebooks can be accessed either through the catalog search or the Article Databases Page (see Accessing eBooks for instructions). Once you've accessed a title through EBSCO, click the 'eBook Full Text' button to be taken to the ebook 'reading' view and proceed as shown below.

Downloading from EBSCO - 01

Downloading from EBSCO - 02

Downloading from EBSCO - 03

  1. To download from EBSCO, you will first need to register for a free account, and log in using the link in the upper right corner of the screen. Once you are logged in and looking at the ebook view shown in the first picture above you should proceed.
  2. Click the 'Print' button in the EBSCO interface (NOT in your browser!) to continue. For now, ignore the 'Download This eBook' button at the bottom left - this will be explained shortly. Once you click the 'Print' button, the the screen shown in the second picture above will appear.
  3. As shown in the second picture, the 'Print' button actually is used to save a PDF. This allows you to download a section of an ebook without DRM that you can use indefinitely. Make a note of the page limits provided, select which portion of the ebook you want, and then hit the 'Print PDF' button to save the file to your computer.
  4. Because the 'Print' function in EBSCO does not allow saving the entire ebook, you may wish to download the whole thing using Adobe Digital Editions. If so, press the 'Download this eBook' button. You will see the screen shown in the third picture above.
  5. From here you can click 'Checkout & Download' to download the ebook to Adobe Digital Editions. Notice, however, that there is a two-hour time limit for all ebooks in EBSCO. For this reason, downloading the entire ebook may be of limited use, since it will expire so quickly. We therefore recommend that you try saving only the section you need with the 'Print' function described above.


eBooks from ebrary, like EBSCO, can be accessed either through the catalog search or the Article Databases Page (again, see Accessing eBooks for more information). Once you've arrived at an ebrary ebook, proceed according to the instructions below.

Downloading from ebrary - 01

Downloading from ebrary - 02

  1. To download from ebrary, you will first need to register for a free account, and log in using the link in the upper right corner of the screen. Once you are logged in and looking at the ebook view shown in the first picture above you should proceed.
  2. Click the 'Download' button to be taken to the screen shown in the second picture above.
  3. This is ebrary's download page. The top half shows options for saving sections of an ebook as PDF files. These files are not restricted by DRM, but you can only save a certain portion of an ebook this way.
  4. If you need to save an entire ebook, you will need to use the options on the bottom half of the download page to get an Adobe Digital Editions file. Note that while this option will always be present on ebrary's download page, not all ebooks actually support Adobe Digital Editions. If the ebook you are trying to download does not support Digital Editions, you will get an error message upon trying to download it.
  5. Once you have made your selection, click 'OK' to proceed. Note again that some ebooks will show an error message after this step when Adobe Digital Editions is selected. If you get an error message, return to the download page and select options from the top half to save a part of your ebook as a PDF.

This is all you should need to know to download from the above three databases. As mentioned, these instructions are very similar to the procedures you can use to download from any of our other collections as well, but the best place for specific downloading instructions for a database is always the database's own help pages.

Guide Author

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