Can I download e-books to my computer?

Some of our e-books can be downloaded to your computer for reading later. The amount of pages you are able to download varies between e-book providers:

  • DRM-free (Digital Rights Management) e-books: You can download and save chapters from here within the legal limit of one chapter or 5% of an e-book. E.g. e-books on IEEE Xplore and ScienceDirect.
  • Dawsonera: You can download some E-books on this platform for up to three days, after which the file will become unusable. You will need to download again from Dawsonera to continue reading your chosen e-book. You cannot print or copy from downloaded Dawsonera e-books.
  • Cambridge Companions Online (Cambridge Core): You can make copies, print or otherwise, of one chapter or up to 10% of the book from each title, whichever is the greater.
  • EBSCOHost: You are usually usually allowed to download up to 60 pages by using the print function.  To do so, click "print", then "print PDF" and save the resulting file. You will be told the exact number of pages you can print from each book.
  • MyiLibrary e-books: You are allowed to download up to 10% of a book.
  • EBL: Any e-books downloaded to your personal computers can be read via Adobe Digital Editions. Please ensure you have this free software installed before downloading.  If using an iPad, iPhone or Android device, you can download and read EBL content via the free Bluefire Reader App. You are allowed to print up to 20% of the total pages of the e-book and copy 5%. For most e-books you can keep the download on your personal computer for up to 3 days. 

Can I use e-books on a Mac?

You should be able to access all of our e-books on a Mac, but two issues have been reported to us by students:

Are you unable to read e-books downloaded from Dawsonera? 

Files downloaded from Dawsonera do not work with Preview (the default PDF viewer on a Mac) - you will need to download and use the latest Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the files.

Are pages opening one at a time in individual pdf files when reading online on Dawsonera or EBSCOHost? 

Open Adobe Reader, go to Adobe>Preferences>Internet and make sure that "display PDF in browser using" is checked. If your browser is Safari 5.1 or higher, you may not be able to read e-books on Dawsonera and EBSCOHost platforms. You will need to download and use Google Chrome.

Can I download e-books to a tablet or phone?

This will depend on the DRM (Digital Rights Management) employed by the e-book provider, as well as the file formats your e-reader is compatible with.

You currently cannot download e-books from MyiLibrary, EBSCOHost or Safari Books Online to any e-reader, due to the DRM in place.

Content from our DRM-free providers can be downloaded to and read on any device compatible with PDFs. This is the only way to read content on a Kindle, as we cannot purchase content in the proprietary Kindle format.

As well as DRM-free PDFs, Palgrave Connect also offers content in EPUB format, which is the preferred format for many e-readers, except Kindle.

BlueFire and Acrobat Digital Edition are common e-readers for books in ePub format.

Why can't I access an e-book?

Some e-books and e-book websites only allow access to a certain number of users at the same time. In these cases messages such as ‘session unavailable’, ‘maximum user capacity reached’ or ‘this e-book is in use’ may appear. So please try again later.

Remember to sign out of a session after use.

Safari Books Online

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This website can only be accessed by 14 people at the same time.

To clear the site when you have finished please click on "University of Westminster" in the blue bar under the search box and then click "sign out and clear session".

Cambridge Companions / Cambridge Books Online

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Some books may be limited-concurrency i.e. only a certain number of users can access a given book at once.

When you have finished reading please close any PDFs from the site that you have opened in your browser.


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Use an up-to-date internet browser; you may experience problems using older versions.

Most e-books are unlimited access but some are limited to 1 or 3 concurrent users.  Publishers set the print and copying limits, as well as the download option so they vary from e-book to e-book.


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If someone is already reading the e-book, you will see the message “Sorry, this Ebook is in use”. Please try again later.

Once you have finished reading the e-book, ensure you close your browser window. If you are repeatedly unable to access the e-books you want, please Ask a Librarian via Service Desk (FixIT).


If someone is already reading the e-book, you will see the message “This book is currently being viewed by another patron and will be available when they have finished. Please check again soon. To access the e-book when available, you must leave this page and re-open the book. At this time, refreshing the page will not open the title.”

If you are repeatedly unable to access the e-books you want, please contact Ask a Librarian via Service Desk (FixIT).

Why are e-books from Amazon/Google eBookstore not available in Library Search?

Some e-books may be sold only to individuals, via sites such as Amazon, but are not available for purchase by university libraries or similar institutions.

This is because the way publishers sell e-books to institutions such as a university is different to how they sell to individuals due to licencing and the number of users involved.

Which e-book providers do we use?

We buy e-books from a range of providers:

  • ACLS Humanities E-Book: fully searchable collection of high-quality e-books in the humanities recommended and reviewed by scholars. Publication dates range from the 1820s to the present.
  • APA e-books: (DRM-free) selected scholarly and professional books published by the American Psychological Association (APA) from 2009.
  • Cambridge Books Online via Cambridge Core: (DRM-free) individually selected titles across a range of subjects.
  • Cambridge Companions Online via Cambridge Core: (DRM-free) Literature and Classics collection offers thousands of comprehensive and accessible essays on major authors, periods and genres, written by experts
  • Credo Reference: reference books, dictionaries and encyclopaedias across a range of subjects.
  • Dawsonera: individually selected titles from all subject areas. Download option is available for offline reading.
  • Early European Books: Collection 5: access to digitised rare early texts from the Wellcome Library tracing the history and development of science and medicine from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries and covering subjects from anatomy and botany to witchcraft and the occult.
  • EBL: popular, professional and academic e-books from the world's leading publishers.
  • EBSCOhost e-Book Collection: individually selected titles from all subject areas.
  • Emerald: Business, Management and Economics books series from 2015
  • Foreign & International Law Resources Database (HEINONLINE FILRD): comprehensive online collection for international Law research, including the American Society for International Law, international yearbooks and The Hague Permanent Court of International Justice series.
  • Greenleaf: All Greenleaf e-books published in 2015. Subject areas: sustainability, responsible management and accountability.
  • IEEE Xplore: (DRM-free) includes Wiley-IEEE, MIT Press and Morgan & Claypool e-books  covering topics in electrical and electronics engineering, computer science, biomedical engineering, medical imaging and other technology-related fields.
  • JISC HistoricBooks: content from Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), with additional unique titles from the British Library 19th Century Collection. The collection covers topics such as researching the history of the book to linguistics, early printing techniques to eighteenth century witchcraft, right through to Dickens, Hardy and the gothic novels of Shelley.
  • JSTOR: (DRM-free) e-books in Business & Economics from publishers including Columbia University Press, MIT Press, and Brookings Institution Press. The titles cover topics including international economics, finance, economic history, economic development, and more.
  • Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: interactive guides to natural medicine ingredients, objective product information, effectiveness ratings, and potential interactions with drugs including ingredient names, botanical names, scientific names and also-known-as names.
  • NOW: a selection of computer Science e-books.
  • Oxford Art Online: a collection of art reference books, including the Grove Dictionary of Art. It contains articles and images on every aspect of the visual arts including searchable images. Subjects include painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, and the decorative and graphic arts.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: biographies and life stories available to download and listen to of people who shaped the history and culture of the British Isles.
  • Oxford Handbooks Online: (DRM-free) Oxford University Press’ Handbooks series, providing in-depth overviews of major topics in business & management, political science and law.
  • Oxford Scholarship Online: (DRM-free) Oxford University Press titles covering law, political science & international relations, neuroscience and psychology.
  • Palgrave Connect: (DRM-free) business and management, literature, politics and international relations, media & culture and social sciences e-books.
  • Safari Books Online: titles covering technology, digital media and business books and thousands of online video clips published by O’Reilly, Microsoft and others. Read online only. 
  • Sage Knowledge: social sciences e-books including scholarly monographs, reference works and handbooks.
  • ScienceDirect: (DRM-free) e-books on media technology including individually selected titles in computer science and engineering, health sciences, life sciences, social sciences and humanities. 
  • Taylor & Francis: e-books from the humanities, social sciences, education, behavioural sciences, built environment and law.
  • ukGAAP (LexisNexis): full text of Deloitte ukGAAP: financial reporting for UK unlisted entities.
  • Wiley Online Library: (DRM-free) e-books across a range of subjects, particularly health/medical science, psychology and computing. 

Can I give feedback or make a suggestion about e-books?

Please send feedback via Ask a Librarian, or contact your Academic Liaison Librarian with suggestions for purchase.