Jenny Blackhurst


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eGuide: Electronic books

What is an ebook?

A searchable full-text electronic version of a print book. You can use an ebook for quick reference, read a chapter, or read the whole book.



ebooks@cambridge is a service providing access to ebooks for all current staff and students of Cambridge University at any time, on and off campus. It is collaboratively funded by almost all Colleges, major Faculties and Departments and the University Library. 


Why use ebooks@cambridge?

Many popular titles and books recommended on reading lists are available as ebooks for a range of subjects.

Access 24/7, on and off campus: members of Cambridge University have access from anywhere with an internet connection, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Additional features such as searching text for particular phrases and adding bookmarks and notes are available.


Finding ebooks

Most ebooks@cambridge items can be found using iDiscover. For a step by step guide on using iDiscover for ebooks see eGuide 19 b : finding and using ebooks. A complete list of the ebooks@cambridge collection can be found here. Read their blog for updates on new ebook purchases.


Electronic legal deposit

Electronic legal deposit (e-deposit) refers to UK published electronic material which is deposited to legal deposit libraries. Search results will have a "conditions of use" note on iDiscover to highlight that the book is accessible via e-deposit (rather than paid for via library subscriptions).


There are certain restrictions for access to, and use of, e-deposit books:

  • Accessible only on designated PCs at the UL and affiliated libraries
  • Only one person can access a book at a time (to correspond with the rules for printed legal deposit books)
  • You can print from designated terminals in the UL. Printing from affiliated libraries is only available in libraries running the DS-Print system - copyright restrictions still apply ( chapter in a book)
  • E-deposit books are available to all registered readers of the UL (not just current staff and students of Cambridge University)

Further details can be found here.


Open Access

Open Access ebooks are freely available texts. There are numerous platforms where you can search for open access books. You can find a comprehensive list here. Examples include:


Online Repositories are also useful places to access material not covered by university subscriptions. Find Cambridge University's Apollo here (these resources are also available on iDiscover). To find and search other repositories use:

  • OpenDoar to find a list of repositories
  • Sherpa to search across repositories



For all ebooks there are still copyright restrictions. For further information check the Copyright LibGuide.


© Girton College Library

Last updated: September 2016 by Helen Grieve

Some information provided by ebooks@cambridge