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E-books

This research guide is intended to help you understand the various e-book platforms available at Florida State University.

Downloading E-books

To increase the functionality of their e-books, many provides allow users to download part or all of an e-book so it can be read without an internet browser. This page contains information related to e-book downloads, including file formats, software programs, and usage restrictions.

E-book Formats

E-books are available for download in multiple digital file formats. While academic vendors tend to use open standard formats, many commercial vendors have proprietary formats (e.g., Amazon’s AZW format, which can only be read by Kindle e-readers or apps).

PDF: Portable document format, usually abbreviated as PDF, is the most common and trusted format for sending and receiving documents. The format was created by Adobe in 1992 but is now an open standard format. PDF formats feature a fixed layout, preserving image visibility and text formatting, making them difficult to read on devices with smaller screens.

All of FSU’s e-book platforms allow either chapters or complete books to be downloaded as PDFs; if downloads are available on a site with open access e-books, PDFs will most likely be available.

EPUB: EPUB is an open standard format which allows for digital publications to be made in accordance with web standards. The current edition is EPUB 3.1, which was approved in January 2017. Since EPUB 3 uses the HTML5 standard for its content, the content is reflowable and thus suitable for screens of all sizes.

Some of FSU’s e-book platforms allow complete books to be downloaded as EPUBs; not all publishers allow their books to be downloaded as EPUBs.

HTML: Hypertext markup language, abbreviated as HTML, is the standard for creating documents on the World Wide Web. When the full text of an e-book is in HTML format, is is read in the browser, not downloaded. The current edition is HTML 5.2, which the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) approved in December 2017.

Almost all of FSU's e-book platforms have access to HTML copies of the full text built into the site. For those platforms which do not have HTML copies of their full text, there will be no "Tutorial: How to Use the E-book" box.

E-book Reading Software

For open standard e-book formats, such as PDF and EPUB, multiple free software programs for reading e-books are available for all major operating systems.

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Acrobat Reader is the basic PDF reading program from PDF developer Adobe. The program is available on all FSU computers and can be downloaded for free to any desktop or mobile device. Please note that PDFs downloaded from EBSCOhost or Ebook Central can only be opened in Adobe Digital Editions.

Adobe Digital Editions: Digital Editions is Adobe’s dedicated e-book reading software. This program is specifically designed to work with PDF and EBUP files with digital rights management (DRM) protection. With an Adobe ID, titles with DRM can be searched, annotated, and transferred between devices. It can be downloaded for free onto any desktop or mobile device. FSU is currently working to download Digital Editions onto all of its workstations; please help us by suggesting it to the monitors of any computer lab where Digital Editions has not yet been installed.

Bluefire Reader: Bluefire Reader is the leading e-book reading app. The app can support PDF and EPUB files with DRM protection. Bluefire Reader accepts Adobe accounts, making it possible to manage all downloaded e-book content with a single account. The app can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android devices; a version for Windows desktops can also be downloaded for free.

Amazon Kindle App: The Kindle app can be used to read DRM-free PDF and EPUB files from sources other than the Kindle Store. Using the app requires creating an Amazon account but does not cost money or require any purchases. The app can be downloaded for free on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows devices.

Create an Adobe ID

An Adobe ID account will help manage all Adobe content and programs, including e-books downloaded with Digital Editions. Learn about Adobe ID accounts or sign up for an account. Creating an Enterprise ID using your FSU email account is not recommended.

Tutorial: How to Download e-Books to Adobe Digital Editions on myFSUVLab

Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) is available through myFSUVLab, FSU’s virtual computer lab. To read a downloaded e-book in ADE on myFSUVLab:

  1. Open myFSUVLab and sign in.
  2. Open ADE in myFSUVLab.
  3. Click Help in the ADE toolbar, then select Authorize Computer from the drop-down list.
  4. Authorize the computer by entering an Adobe ID and password or selecting “I want to authorize my computer without an ID.”
  5. Open the myFSUVLab toolbar by clicking on the toolbar icon at the top of the page.
  6. Click the upload icon.
  7. In the pop-up window, select Downloads in the menu on the left, select the file, and click Open.
  8. Use the pop-up that appears on the myFSUVLab screen to save the file to another location. (ITS recommends Libraries\Documents\Documents.)
  9. Click File in the ADE toolbar, then select Add to Library from the drop-down list.
  10. In the drop-down list to the right of the file name box, select Adobe Content Server Message.
  11. Navigate to the location selected in step six, select the file, and click Open.

Screenshots for each step can be found by clicking the arrows on the left and the right.

1. Open myFSUVLab and sign in.

2. Open ADE in myFSUVLab.

3. Click Help in the ADE toolbar, then select Authorize Computer from the drop-down list.

4. Authorize the computer by entering an Adobe ID and password or selecting “I want to authorize my computer without an ID.”

5. Open the myFSUVLab toolbar by clicking on the toolbar icon at the top of the page.

6. Click the upload icon.

7. In the pop-up window, select Downloads in the menu on the left, select the file, and click Open.

8. Use the pop-up that appears on the myFSUVLab screen to save the file to another location. (ITS recommends Libraries\Documents\Documents.)

9. Click File in the ADE toolbar, then select Add to Library from the drop-down list.

10. In the drop-down list to the right of the file name box, select Adobe Content Server Message.

11. Navigate to the location selected in step eight, select the file, and click Open.

Digital Rights Management

Digital rights management (DRM) is any software controlling what can and can’t be done with a digital file. DRM allows e-book vendors to control the number of times an e-book can be downloaded, how long the download will last, what software can open the e-book, and how much content can be copied and/or printed. Some of our vendors add DRM to their e-books; for the platforms which use DRM, the “Usage Limits” section of the platform page describes the e-book usage restrictions.

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