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eBooks, Electronic Resources, Information Literacy & Instruction, User Services

Downloading e-books from EBSCO to your computer for offline reading

The Library owns and subscribes to thousands of academic e-books from EBSCO Publishing. These e-books are readily accessible to authorized users from our EBSCOhost eBooks Collections database (select it from the “Resources” dropdown menu on the Library website). They are also indexed in the Milligan Library Catalog, and may surface among other search results in MCSearch.

The EBSCOhost platform includes a built-in viewer for reading e-books online using any modern web browser (e.g., Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, or Microsoft Internet Explorer). However, many of EBSCO’s e-books can also be downloaded to your computer to be read at leisure offline. Downloadable titles are marked with this message:

The following instructions will guide you through the process of downloading EBSCOhost e-books to your computer. The procedure is a little challenging because it requires that you create two authorization accounts and download a piece of software. However, you shouldn’t have too much trouble if you follow these instructions closely. The first 3 steps only have to be done one time. Feel free to contact a librarian if you would like assistance, or if you run into any difficulty.

Step 1: Get an Adobe ID

You will need an Adobe ID to authorize your access to the e-books you download from EBSCOhost into Adobe Digital Editions, or to transfer e-books to a mobile device (more on this in a later post). You only have to do this step once.

  • Go to http://www.adobe.com/.
  • Click the “Sign in” link on the top right side of the page (under the Search box).
  • Click the “Don’t have an Adobe ID?” link.
  • Fill out the Create an Adobe ID form. The email address you supply will become your Adobe ID. Use this, and the password you create, to access content in Adobe Digital Editions. Write down your Adobe ID and password.

Step 2: Download Adobe Digital Editions

Download the Adobe Digital Editions application from Adobe’s website (Mac OS or Windows versions available). You will need this (free) application to view the e-books you download from EBSCO (via MCSearch, or directly from our EBSCOhost eBook Collections). The process will be smoother if you already have this software on your computer before you attempt the first e-book download. You only have to do this step once.

Launch the Installer and follow the instruction prompts to complete the installation. Once the installation is complete launch Adobe Digital Editions. You will be prompted to enter your Adobe ID and password to authorize your computer. This will also prepare your computer to recognize Adobe Digital Editions as the default application for opening EBSCO e-books. Here is a screenshot of the open application.

Step 3: Create a My EBSCOhost account

As indicated above, if you are a currently registered Milligan College student, faculty, or staff member you do not need to create an account to view an EBSCOhost e-book. Simply click the “eBook Full Text” link to launch the e-book viewer in your web browser.

However, if you want to download an EBSCOhost e-book to your computer for later offline reading in Adobe Digital Editions you will need to create a “My EBSCOhost” account. You only have to do this step once.

  • From any EBSCOhost database (including MCSearch) click the “Sign In” link at the top right side of the page.
  • Click the “Create a new Account” link on the right side of the page.
  • Fill out the form then click the “Save Changes” button. The user name and password you supply will enable you to login to your My EBSCOhost account and download e-books to your computer. Write down your User Name and password.

You now have everything you need to download and read EBSCOhost e-books on your computer. Let’s download an e-book now!

Step 4: Download an e-book from an EBSCOhost eBook Collection

NOTE: These instructions apply only to e-books in the EBSCOhost eBook Collection (Milligan College Library also provides e-books from other publishers. Those e-books cannot be downloaded to your computer using these instructions).

a) Launch EBSCOhost eBook Collection from the “Resources” dropdown menu on the Milligan College Library website at http://library.milligan.edu. Search for an e-book. EBSCOhost e-books are also included in relevant MCSearch search results.

b) If the record for the e-book you have selected includes a “Download (Offline)” link the book can be downloaded to your computer for offline viewing. Click the “Download (Offline)” link.

c) You will be prompted to sign-in using your My EBSCOhost account. Click the “Sign In Now” link.

d) Enter your User Name and Password from your My EBSCOhost account (see Step 3) and click the “Login” button. (If you are using a personal computer you may choose to have your web browser “remember” your credentials so you don’t have to re-type this information in the future.)

e) Once you are logged into My EBSCOhost, a “Download This eBook” screen for the e-book you have selected will pop up. If the e-book is available for checkout, select the Checkout Period and click the “Checkout & Download” button. Notice the download screen informs you that you need to have Adobe Digital Editions on your computer in order to view the downloaded book (see Step 1).

f) If the download is successful you will see this screen:

g) Once the e-book file is downloaded you should see a screen prompting you to choose how you will open the e-book file. If you have Adobe Digital Editions pre-loaded on your computer the “Open with Adobe Digital Editions (Default)” option will be pre-selected.

h) If you downloaded the e-book file on an Apple Mac, locate the .ACSM file (stands for Adobe Content Server Message file) where you customarily download files (e.g., the “Downloads” folder), Control-Click on the file, select “Open With” from the contextual menu and select “Adobe Digital Editions (Default).”

i) Adobe Digital Editions should launch and you will see the e-book loading into the application. When complete, the book is immediately available for viewing! Notice the navigation tools on the top menu, and the table of contents pane on the left.

j) Click on the “Library” button in the upper left of the top menu to view all the books you have downloaded. Adobe Digital Editions will track the checkout period remaining on each book in your Library. When the checkout period is expired you will no longer be able to open the book. At this point, you may decide to delete the file from your Library. Control-Click the book icon and select “Remove from Library” from the drop down menu.

Next Steps

In a subsequent post I will show you how to transfer an EBSCOhost e-book from your computer to a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) or dedicated e-reader.

About Gary Daught

Gary Daught is Director of Library Services at the P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library on the campus of Milligan College, Tennessee. Gary is interested in the history, the present, and the future of the book, and the role technology plays in the evolution of libraries.


4 thoughts on “Downloading e-books from EBSCO to your computer for offline reading

  1. Do you mind if I use your post on our website?
    Thank you, Pamela

    Posted by pymccreless | November 1, 2012, 11:49 am
  2. Pam,

    Greetings. Thanks for your interest in this post. Feel free to re-use this content on your site.

    Posted by Gary Daught | November 1, 2012, 12:38 pm


  1. Pingback: Transferring e-books from EBSCO to your mobile device or e-reader « Milligan Library Life - October 24, 2012

  2. Pingback: Downloadable e-books in EBSCO Academic Collection now with 30-Day checkout period! « Milligan Library Life - January 28, 2013

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