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E-books @ Unisa Library : E-readers and e-book formats

This guide describes the many e-book resources available through the university library catalogue and electronic databases and how to access them

Request a Literature Search

Need sources for your literature review? Struggling to find sources for your postgraduate assignment?

The Library can assist with a literature search, which is a systematic and comprehensive search for published, academic material on your specific subject/topic. How do you request one? Simply go to Request a literature search .

If you are experiencing problems accessing the form, please use this link

E-readers and apps

There is a variety of e-reader devices available on the market, e.g. Kindle, Kobo, Sony, Nook, etc.

The following two articles provide helpful information: 7 Things you should know about e-readers, and 7 Best eReader Apps for iPad.

ereader apps

These apps can be downloaded for Apple from  iTunes and for Android from Google Play which are the two main stores.

Other devices such as smartphones and tablets also serve as e-readers when the relevant apps are installed.

e-book formats

E-books are published in a number of different formats depending on the publisher. This lack of uniformity is complicated a little further by the many means of access available to different library users, e.g. a personal computer, laptop, smartphone, and tablets.

Take a look at the following article for more information on the most common types of format publishers are using: The 6 Most Popular eBook Formats to Know About.

Depending on which e-book collection you are using, e.g. MyiLibrary, go to the HELP link to find out what you might need to download in order to read an e-book, e.g. if you are viewing the e-book from an iPad, Android tablet or Android phone.

Digital Rights Management

DRM (Digital Rights Management) systems control the use of digital content. Some of the Unisa Library's e-books are protected by DRM.

This regulates how a book can be accessed and what can be done with it (e.g. printing and copying). It also determines how many users can access the content at any one time.

The digital rights are set by the e-book vendor, the author or the publisher.

adobe digital editions

Adobe Digital Editions

Adobe Digital Editions allows you to access e-books downloaded to your computer in either the EPUB or PDF format and which are protected by Adobe Digital Rights Management (DRM). Adobe Digital Editions is compatible with screen reading software such as JAWS or NVDA for readers living with a visual disability.

bluefire reader for apple

Bluefire Reader app for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad

The Bluefire Reader app allows you to download e-books in EPUB or PDF format that are protected with Adobe DRM directly to an Apple device such as the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. You can also transfer e-books to the Bluefire Reader app from Adobe Digital Editions.

bluefire reader

Bluefire Reader app for Android Devices

The Bluefire Reader app allows you to download e-books in EPUB or PDF format that are protected with Adobe DRM directly to an Android device.

takealot ereader

takealot  eReader

The takealot  ereader is an application for buying and reading books from takealot on a variety of devices and operating systems. The ereader supports the pdf and epub formats as well as DRM.

Free e-books

There are also many options for free e-books on the Internet. Here are some of the most popular and well known sites:

Google Books

Titles in the public domain (i.e. copyright has expired) are freely available. Copyrighted titles have previews or snippets available.

Project Gutenberg

Over 40,000 free e-books from the very first e-book website.

The Online Books Page

Over 1 million free e-books from the University of Pennsylvania.


Public domain and "original" e-books available for free.


Includes classic and contemporary e-books by female writers.


Over 29,000 e-books.

Open Library

This site is attempting to create "one web page for every book ever published".


A document-sharing website where people "publish" and share their writing.


Science Fiction e-books.