eBooks and eBook Readers


This guide addresses some frequently asked questions about electronic books and the ever growing range of computers and hand-held devices that are used for reading eBook content. Included is information about:


Background Information

What is an eBook?

An eBook is an electronic digital text similar in content to traditional print books, and sometimes restricted with a digital rights management (DRM) system. eBooks can be read by using a personal computer or by using an eBook reader.

Copyright owners employ DRM techniques to impose limits on the use of digital content. Not all eBooks come restricted by DRM. Some are in the Public domain and others permit free access.

There are four components to the eBook reading experience:

  • Electronic text
  • eBook file format (with or without DRM) e.g., PDF, HTML, ePub
  • eBook reader, computer, or other device
  • Software or application on the reader for the file format, e.g., Adobe Acrobat, web browser
Once you have chosen an eBook to read, you will have to use a device that has the software for reading the eBook's format.



What is an eBook Reader?

eBook Readers are electronic devices designed for reading digital books. While there are dedicated eBook readers, other electronic devices can also be used. Smart phones, PDAs, computers, netbooks, iPads, & the iPod Touch are all examples of devices that, with the appropriate software or apps, can be used to read eBooks.

The NCSU Libraries Technology Lending Service loans out the following devices that can be used to read eBooks.