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eBook Basics

Welcome to About eBooks - the library's guide to electronic books.

Some eBooks look like the original print book, but other eBooks more closely resemble databases. This is often true of encyclopedias and dictionaries where you look up a topic and only see the relevant results - never the entire book.

  • Some eBooks look exactly like the original - some don't.
  • Some eBooks can be read "cover to cover" - some can't.
  • Some eBooks can be downloaded - some can't.
  • Most eBooks can be searched word by word - but not all.
  • Many eBooks come with bells and whistles that let you take notes, bookmark passages, generate citations, etc. - but not all.

Confused? Well, that's why we have created this LibGuide. Most of your answers can be found here!

Two Kinds of eBooks

eBooks tend to fall into two categories - those you read cover to cover and those you access to find an answer. You get in, you find your answer, you get out. The second category often includes reference books - dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbook, guides, etc. In this case, you may never see the entire book. Instead, the eBook's search engine will only retrieve the relevant articles or passages identified in your search. This kind of eBook acts more like a database than a book.

Compare the different reading / searching experience of these two eBooks.

An eBook to Read - Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Becher Stowe.

An eBook to Access - Oxford Companion to World Exploration.

eBook Providers