| Created by J. Cheyenne Hohman, University of Kentucky*
This guide is an introduction to e-books: what they are, how to use them, and where to find them, at the Library of Congress and elsewhere online. An e-book (also referred to as an electronic book, ebook or digital book) is a text that can be viewed and/or downloaded onto a computer or other digital device. E-books cover a wide range of genres and subjects. Though many e-books are currently available in both digital and conventional paper formats, some are created strictly in digital format. Conversely, some conventional paper books do not exist in digital format, because of the book's copyright status, or the preferences of the book's publisher or author.
Whether someone can read an e-book depends on the compatibility of the e-book's format with the device being used. Certain companies have their own proprietary formats that don’t work on desktop computers or with other companies' mobile devices. When searching for an e-book, make sure the format you choose is compatible with the device with which you plan to read it. For an overview of compatible devices and formats, see Devices and Formats. Most e-readers have a standard page layout that looks like the pages in a book; page-turning/scrolling varies by device or browser.
Only a small percentage of the Library’s collections can be found in digital form on the Library’s Web site. Available full-text books are mostly American publications published prior to 1923, which are no longer under U.S. copyright protection. Academic textbooks and recent works of fiction cannot be found in full-text/electronic formats on the Library's Web site, and recent nonfiction on the site is limited to Library of Congress publications such as annual reports, illustrated collection guides, Federal Research Division country studies, and a history of the Library of Congress.
*2011 Alternative Spring Break Internship Participant.