Library Ebooks

Guide to Library Ebooks

Guide to Library Ebooks

Guide to Library Ebooks


CSUSM Library provides access to hundreds of thousands of ebooks. Though some are straightforward, some have restrictions that can be confusing. This guide will help you find and use Library ebooks for teaching and research in the simplest way possible.


Find Ebooks


Use facets in Primo to limit to Full-text online and Books to only return ebook results.To find ebooks, enter search terms into the search box above, or go to OneSearch and type in your search terms. If you use OneSearch rather than the search box above, you must use the facets on the left side to limit results to "Books" and "Full-text Online."

To read an ebook once you've found it using the search box above or OneSearch, click the title to see more details and availability. Then click the link next to "Full text available at" to read the ebook online. You will have to login using your CSUSM username and password.


Access the ebook by clicking the link next to "Full text available at"

For more information on reading ebooks offline, see Downloading Ebooks.

Ebooks FAQ

Ebooks FAQ

Ebooks FAQ


What does "DRM-free" mean?

Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to restrictions on how a digital file can be accessed. The most common type of DRM associated with library materials are ebooks that require special, proprietary software to open and read (for example, Adobe Digital Editions and an individual Adobe account is required to download many library ebooks in full). DRM makes it harder to read books offline, and requires many steps to get downloaded ebooks onto mobile devices. While downloading DRM ebooks is onerous, even ebooks that have DRM are readable via browser and typically enable partial PDF downloads (for example, you may be permitted to download a chapter or a certain page limit as a PDF without DRM, but cannot download the entire ebook without DRM restrictions).

Where possible, CSUSM library prefers to purchase DRM-free ebooks, which typically enable downloading, storing, and opening ebook files through a variety of programs. DRM-free ebooks are easier to open, read, and share.

CSUSM DRM-free ebook providers:

Why do some ebooks only allow 1 or 3 users to access them at a time?

Separate from DRM, ebook providers may restrict simultaneous use of an ebook (for example, an ebook may allow only 3 simultaneous users to read the book via browser at the same time). These restrictions are meant to mimic the practical limitations of physical library books (in the sense that only one person can check out a physical book at a time). The ebook access table provides definitions for the various access levels that you may encounter among CSUSM Library's ebooks, as well as examples of what the ebook limitations look like in OneSearch.  CSUSM Library always strives to provide unlimited access DRM-free access whenever possible.

Why is it so difficult to download DRM-controlled Library ebooks to read offline? 

Many Library ebook platforms have chosen to utilize Adobe Digital Editions software to enable offline reading of Library ebooks, which unfortunately requires the completion of several setup steps the first time you attempt to use it. However, once your devices are set up and authorized with your Adobe Digital ID, reading ebooks should only take a few clicks. Wherever possible, the Library purchases DRM-free ebooks so users don't have to go through so many steps to read ebooks offline.

Why can I not download ebooks that say they on have 3 or 1 user limits?

Ebooks that only allow 3 or 1 user to access them at any given time can usually not be downloaded in full for offline reading. You can almost always download portions of these ebooks as PDFs, but they generally must be accessed and read online through your browser. This is to enable more access to the limited ebook, because as soon as one user's browser session ends, another user can access the book. Fully downloaded ebooks may be unavailable for a week or more, even if the original user who downloaded the book is no longer using it.

I'm a CSUSM faculty member and I wish to assign a Library ebook as a required textbook in order to make my course more affordable for my students. How do I do this?

Thank you for reducing the cost of textbooks on campus! The Library can support you in this through library reserves, and the Library does purchase ebooks we don't already have in our collection. Please see the Library's CALM guides for additional resources.

You can login to the Library's reserves tool and search for books and ebooks to add to your course (see "Managing Your Library Reserves" for more information about this). If we don't own the item, you can still add it to your course list, and the item will be purchased if funds are available. You will be notified if/when the item is available. You can also email information about the book you need for your reserves to

Ebook Access Types

Ebook Access Types

Ebook Access Types

CSUSM Library provides access to many different kinds of ebooks with different access models. When a single title has multiple possible options available, the Library always purchases the most permissive license available:

  • Best choice if available: DRM-free, unlimited simultaneous users
  • Second choice: DRM-controlled, unlimited simultaneous users
  • Third choice: DRM-controlled, limited simultaneous users.

For books on library reserve, where possible and budgets allow, the Library always purchases an ebook version instead of print to enable 24/7 access for users both on and off-campus. 

Questions about what 'DRM-free' or other ebook-related terms mean? See the Ebooks FAQ.

Want to know more about how to read ebooks offline? See Downloading Ebooks.


Access level

Simultaneous users and usage limits

Example ebooks

Can I read offline?

Can faculty use in library reserves?

Unlimited DRM-free

Unlimited simultaneous users.

No annual limits on usage.





Taylor & Francis

Yes, complete offline download that requires no third party software (typically downloads as a PDF).


Unlimited DRM-controlled Unlimited simultaneous users. No annual limits on usage. Full downloads require additional software to comply with DRM.

Ebooks Central Academic Complete

EBSCO Ebooks


Partially - users can download portions or chapters from each book, but cannot down the full book, or requires third party software, such as Adobe Digital Editions or BlueFire Reader, to download and read offline. Yes
Non-linear lending / concurrent users 200-325 uses per year; unlimited simultaneous users up to that limit. After available uses are exhausted, the book is no longer available until the annual license period renews (in other words, the book will be available next year). 



CSUSM Library avoids purchasing these kinds of licenses to avoid access from being exhausted. 

Not Available Technically you can, but this is not recommended, as the available uses may run out before the course ends. Contact and we will attempt to purchase unlimited access.
3-Users Only 3 users can access the book at a time. If a fourth user attempts to read the book, they will see a 'turnaway' error. The Library is automatically notified of the turnaway so we can purchase more access. ProQuest Not Available Technically you can, but your students may experience turnaways, which is frustrating. Contact and we will attempt to purchase unlimited access.
1-User Only 1 user can access the book at a time. If a second user attempts to read the book, they will see a 'turnaway' error. The Library is automatically notified of the turnaway so we can purchase more access.  EBSCO Ebooks Not Available Technically you can, but your students may experience frustrating turnaways. Contact and we will attempt to purchase unlimited access.
Open Access / Open Educational Resources (OER)

Unlimited simultaneous users.

No annual limits on usage.


Open Textbook Library

Yes, formats vary, but typically allows complete offline download that requires no third party software (typically downloads as a PDF). Yes


Downloading Ebooks

Downloading Ebooks

Ebook Downloading Guide

The instructions on this page apply to DRM-controlled ebooks that limit downloading or require 3rd party software for downloading and offline reading. 

Sometimes DRM-free ebooks can only be downloaded chapter-by-chapter (meaning you have to click on each individual chapter to get the full book) but there's no restriction on the amount of the book you can download for offline reading. See the example ebook Space, Place and Environment for an example DRM-free ebook that can be downloaded by chapter. See the Ebooks FAQ for more information about DRM

Partial / Chapter Downloading (Recommended)

Most Library ebooks - even DRM-controlled ebooks - allow downloading chapters or portions of the ebook as PDFs with no additional software or restrictions. For the example book below (The Calculus Story) when you access the ebook using the "Full Text Available At" link from OneSearch, you will see you can either "Read Online" in your browser or "Download PDF Chapter" which allows you to download up to 84 pages of the ebook as a PDF.

Important Note: the maximum number of pages that can be printed/downloaded as a PDF for DRM-controlled ebooks varies widely - not all ebooks allow downloading up to 84 pages as a PDF! There are some DRM-controlled ebooks that allow very little printing / PDF-downloading, and some that allow hundreds of pages to be downloaded DRM-free.


Full / Offline Downloading

Many (but not all) Library ebooks can be downloaded and read offline in their entirety. 

DRM-free ebooks can be downloaded in full without any special software - simply download the full PDF and you can read with any PDF reader (e.g., Adobe Reader).

Ebooks that are not DRM-free require additional software to download in full and read offline. In most cases, the following will be required to download and read a DRM-protected ebook:

Once you have Adobe Digital Editions installed, you have to authorize it with your Adobe ID to be able to read ebooks across devices. For example, if you wanted to download The Calculus Story in its entirety to read offline, you could click the "Download Book" button, which would download a file that can be opened with Adobe Digital Editions.

To download the full book, click the Download Book button, which will download a file that can be opened with Adobe Digital Editions software that has been authorized with an Adobe ID. Note that downloaded ebooks using Adobe Digital Editions expire after a certain number of days (usually noted on the ebook download screen).


Ebook Publisher Help Sites

Need Help?

Lauren Magnuson

Head of Collections, Delivery and Access
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