Answered By: Mary Ann Cullen
Last Updated: May 31, 2019     Views: 1392

Sometimes when you locate an eBook, you will run across a page that contains several access options: "PDF Full Text" "EPUB Full Text" and "Download this eBook (Offline)."  Not all ebooks will have all these options. (See image below for an example.) You can access the full text of the e-book using any of the options, but they operate in different ways. 

ebook format options

Full Text vs. Download

PDF Full Text and EPUB Full text both open the book on the computer or electronic device for you to use on the spot.  The book is not stored on the computer/device.  

  • Account required? When you click this option, you will be prompted for the GSU Username and password to access the book off campus, but you do not need to have a My EBSCOhost account.
  • Software required: PDFs and EPUBs will usually open in the software available on your Internet browser; no special software is needed
  • Using the ebook: After opening the e-book, you can navigate, search, and read the e-book.  You can also save, print, or email yourself a portion of the book -- usually 60 pages. (There are a few books that do not allow saving, printing or emailing, so say zero pages.)
  • Checkout period:  For items with a limited number of users, when you close the e-book, then the e-book is available for someone else to use within a few minutes.  These e-books will automatically close after a period of inactivity, freeing them for use by someone else.

"Download" an ebook is handy if you need to access the e-book away from an Internet connection.  The book will store to the computer or mobile device for a particular number of days; after the checkout period, the file will no longer be accessible.  Books may be available in pdf or epub or both, depending on the book. 

  • Account required?: When you choose this option, you will need to enter your GSU Username and password, then you will be prompted to log into (or create) a free My EBSCOhost account.  You will also need a free Adobe Digital Editions account.
  • Software required: You will need to download Adobe Digital Editions to view pdf and ipub ebooks. For some mobile devices, you will need to download some other software or apps. (Bluefire Reader is recommended by EBSCO.)  These are free and only need to be downloaded once. See our Ebook Guide for more information about downloading e-books to mobile devices.
  • Using the ebook: After opening the e-book, you can navigate, search, and read the e-book.  You can also bookmark pages, highlight text, and create notes.  
  • Checkout period: The e-book will download to your device for a given number of days. It will show a default number of days, but you can edit it to choose fewer days. You may renew the book before it is due or re-check it after the loan period is over. After the check-out period is over, you will no longer be able to access the e-book. The file remains on your device, though, so you may want to delete it to free the space. For books that allow only one user at time, only the person who has checked out the book can access the ebook for that checkout period.


PDF vs. EPUB files

Both pdf and epub of files can be opened "full text" for immediate viewing or downloaded to your computer/ mobile device.  What's the difference?

"PDF" opens an exact scan of the book; the page numbers will be the same as the print version.  This option is best when you need the page numbers for reference.

"EPUB" opens a full copy of the book, but the text will "flow" rather than be limited to exact pages.  It will adapt to the size of your mobile device, so this option is particularly good for reading on mobile devices.


 Find out more about searching for PDF and EPUB books.


An important thing to know:  Many of our e-books have unlimited simultaneous users, but some only allow one user at a time.  Because downloading ebooks for offline use ties up the ebook for a longer time period than the "eBook Full Text" option, we recommended that you use eBook Full Text options unless you have a specific reason for wanting to download the e-book for offline use.

For more about ebooks, see our eBooks guide.

 ~updated 12/5/18 mac

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