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Using Ebooks

How to find and use ebooks on some of our most popular ebook platforms.

EBSCO Ebooks

Ways to read EBSCO eBooks

You may read EBSCO eBooks online in the web browser of your computer, laptop, or tablet device. There is no need to download special software if you use this option, but you do need an active Internet connection. There is not time limit on your use of an ebook online.

Your other options are downloading a limited selection of pages in PDF format, which allows you to print and permanently save the chapters, or downloading an entire ebook, which necessitates the use of special software. Continue reading to receive instruction on these points. 

Saving a section as a PDF for printing or viewing

There are a couple different ways to save a section of an EBSCO ebook as a PDF. Depending on the publisher's limit, you may generate a PDF of up to 100 pages. Some publishers do not allow the option to save an eBook as a PDF.

A: Use one of the following menu options at the top of the screen: Save Pages, E-Mail Pages, Print Pages, and Export to Google Drive will generate a PDF of a section of your choosing. Choosing one of these options will reveal a menu that states the page limit for downloading a section, and give you various options for selecting a range of pages to download.

B: Click on the downward facing arrow icon next to the chapter navigation items in the menu on the left side of the page. Clicking on this icon will bring you to a pop-up screen that states the page limit for downloading a section, and give you various options for selecting a range of pages to download.

Downloading an EBSCO eBook

Desktop or Laptop

The benefits of downloading an ebook are the ability to read offline, and to share between devices linked with the same software and account. Most EBSCO eBooks except 1-user titles are downloadable.

In order to download an EBSCO eBook on a desktop or laptop computer, you must have Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) 1.7.1 or higher installed. You can download Adobe Digital Editions for free for Mac or Windows. 

To download the book, look for the Download button, the location of which may vary based on the interface mode in which you are viewing the ebook. You do not need to create an EBSCOhost account, as one is automatically created for you

If you plan to read an ebook on another device, such as a mobile ereader app, you need to authorize both Adobe Digital Editions and your ereader app using an Adobe ID. If you do not have an Adobe ID, go to to set up your free Adobe ID and password. 

You can have up to six different devices linked to your account, but be aware that ebooks borrowed from a library will not appear on all devices. They will only be on the device where it was initially downloaded.

Visit the EBSCO eBooks download help page for more details.

iOS or Android Device (tablet or smartphone)

Since August 2019, there is a known issue whereby EBSCO eBooks downloaded on mobile devices may not reliably open in Bluefire, Adobe Digital Editions or other Adobe-authorized mobile apps. If you run into this issue, we recommend reading EBSCO eBooks in the online viewer, which is fully mobile responsive and can be used on mobile phones and tablets.

To view an ebook on your smartphone or tablet, follow the download instructions above, but use one of the following apps instead of Adobe Digital Editions to view the book on your device. You will need to enter an Adobe ID in the app. If you do not have an Adobe ID, go to to set up your free Adobe ID and password. The Bluefire Reader app is the most widely recommended of these, but there are others you may prefer:

Adobe Digital EditionsApple iOS | Android

BlueFire ReaderApple iOS | Android (As of July 2019, the BlueFire reader is not available to Android users. Users who have the reader installed and have not upgraded at the end of July will see no change in functionality. For those users who encounter an error downloading to BlueFire, please use one of the apps below). 

Aldiko Book ReaderApple iOS | Android 

Bookari Reader: Apple iOS | Android ​

The EBSCO development team is actively investigating issues opening ebooks in Bluefire, Adobe Digital Editions or other Adobe-authorized mobile apps and hopes to have a resolution in place soon. In the meantime, we recommend downloading individual chapters or reading EBSCO eBooks online

See the EBSCO eBooks Mobile App - Quick Start User Guide for more information.

Do not use the USF mobile app to download and read ebooks online; use a mobile browser, such as Safari or Chrome. 

Frequently Asked Questions


For how long can I check out/download an EBSCO eBook?

Most EBSCO eBooks may be downloaded for offline use for up to 7 days. After the checkout duration has passed, the ebook will disappear or no longer be accessible from your bookshelf, Adobe Digital Editions bookshelf, or device.

Ebooks with a single user license cannot be downloaded and must be read online.  When ebooks are read online, they are "checked out" for a period of time that typically expires after 60 minutes of inactivity.


Can I “close” an EBSCO eBook that I’ve been viewing online, so it becomes available to another user?

For single user, or three user (1B1U, 1B3U) titles, there may be times that a title is not available and a “Sorry, this eBook is in use” message is displayed because that title’s user limit has been reached.

eBooks that are being viewed online can be “closed” and made available to other users, by clicking Detailed Record (above the Table of Contents), New Search, or Back links in the ebook viewer. 

If an eBook is left “open” in a browser window but is no longer being used, then the eBook becomes available to other users after 60 minutes of inactivity. 


How do I return a downloaded EBSCO eBook?

To return an ebook:

1. Open Adobe Digital Editions or the EBSCO/Bluefire mobile app

2. Select "Return Borrowed Item"

You don't need to return downloaded books, but returning the download of a limited-user book will make it available to others. If you choose to not return the book, after the designated access time the file will remain on your computer or device, but it will become unreadable. Once it times out, you might want to delete the (unreadable) file to avoid confusion.

Note, returned ebooks may take up to an hour to become available.


Why am I unable to download an EBSCO eBook?

An ebook that's missing the "Download (Offline)" link cannot be downloaded in its entirety. Certain publishers restrict downloading of their ebooks. Some of these publishers include Ashgate Publishing, Edward Elgar Publishing, I.B. Tauris, Kogan Page, MIT Press, New York University Press, Princeton University Press, Reference Service Press, University of California Press, University of Oklahoma Press, McGill-Queen's University Press, STM Learning, Inc., and University of Arkansas Press. Some of these publishers permit downloading, saving, and printing of portions of text, such as chapters.


How many people can use an EBSCO eBook?

Most EBSCO ebooks can be used by an unlimited number of users at a time. A number of EBSCO ebooks that are purchased titles can only be used by 1-3 users at a time. There may be times that a title is not available and a “Sorry, this eBook is in use” message is displayed because that title’s user limit has been reached.

Single user titles cannot be checked out; they become available immediately after a user stops viewing them.


Can I place a hold on an EBSCO eBook? 

If the eBook you want to use is in use by another user, you may place a hold on the eBook to access or download when it becomes available. Click Place Hold to be notified when that eBook is available for you to download.

When the eBook is available, you are notified via the email address associated with your account and the eBook appears in the Checkouts area of your folder. eBooks are held for you for 12 hours. 

ebsco ebook hold

Can I take notes in an EBSCO eBook?

You can take notes on an EBSCO eBook online by clicking on My Notes in the upper left of the open ebook. Click to view your notes or to create a new note about the eBook or a page of the eBook and save it to your personal folder. (PDF format eBooks only). 

You may take notes in the downloaded Adobe Digital Editions reader, but notes taken there are only maintained during the days you have the book downloaded. They are not permanent.


Can I copy text from an EBSCO eBook?

You can copy selections of a book you've checked out or downloaded, and paste it into a text editor, such as Microsoft Word. Please note you are still required to adhere to Fair Use and Copyright laws. Under Fair Use, you may copy a small part of the copyrighted book, not the entire work.

If the text you wish to copy is spread across more than one page, you will need to copy and paste each page separately.

EBSCO eBooks will also include the citation for the book when you copy and paste a selection of text. The format defaults to APA and MLA, but can be changed to your preferred citation format.


Can I checkout and download an EBSCO eBook to a Kindle?

EBSCO ebooks cannot be downloaded directly to a Kindle due to Amazon's proprietary software, however, you may download and read ebooks using a Kindle Fire with the free Flipster app. See these instructions on using Flipster from EBSCO support

Alternately, you may also transfer saved PDF Files to any Kindle eReader device or Kindle app on iPhone using Amazon's Send to Kindle option. See instructions for sending PDFs to a Kindle on the EBSCO support page.


Can I export EBSCO eBook citations to RefWorks?

It is possible to export EBSCO eBook citations to RefWorks using the export tool. Once you have entered into an ebook and are looking at a page from the book, click on the export button in the top menu of the page. The resulting menu that drops down is set to default to export to RefWorks. Click the save button.

At this point you will be directed to the login page for RefWorks. Enter your login information to initiate the export.


Can I send a link to the ebook, or embed the ebook in Canvas?

Yes, when viewing the ebook in your web browser, use the permalink button (icon of a chain link) in the toolbar at the top of the screen to copy and paste a permanent url to send to colleagues, classmates, or embed in a Canvas course. For the latter, we recommend this option rather than sections of actual content because it avoids issues with unauthorized access.


How do I fix the error "Unable do download - Error getting license. License server communication problem. E_AUTH_BAD_DEVICE_KEY_OR_PKCS12," when I try to open a downloaded ebook file in Adobe Digital Editions? 

Try deauthorizing Adobe Digital Editions, and then authorize it again. 

  1. To deauthorize Adobe Digital Editions, click Help > Erase Authorization.
  2. In the pop-up window that opens, enter the password for the account you used to authorize Adobe Digital Editions. 
  3. Click Erase Authorization.

If this doesn't work, see deauthorize instructions for Windows and Mac computers. 


I don't remember my Adobe password. How can I reset it?

See Reset forgotten password


How can I get more help?

Ask a Librarian or consult the EBSCO eBook help guide.

Ask A Librarian