How to use e-books

Our guide to accessing, downloading and reading e-books.

e-book accessibility guidance

Accessing an e-book

  • Find the book on your reading list or in Library Search. Click the link to open the eBook.
  • You can also find the VLeBooks and Dawsonera websites on the Database A-Z.
  • Choose either read online or download. See the relevant FAQ sections on this page for more tips.
  • There may be a preview option instead. Select preview to open the book then close the preview screen. The read online and download options should appear.
  • As well as PCs and Macs, e-books can be read on tablet devices, phones and ereaders (eg an app).

Reading online in VLeBooks and Dawsonera

For most e-books your session will last until you close it, but some books can only be used for four hours before they close automatically. This will be explained in a warning message before you open the book.

Note: If you leave an e-book inactive for more than 15 minutes in read online mode it may time out and you will have to access it again. Avoid this by turning the page occasionally.

Finding pages

  • Use the arrow buttons to move back and forth one page at a time, or to skip to the beginning and end of the book.
  • To find a particular page, type the page number into the number box and press enter.

Using the contents sidebar

  • Click on a chapter to navigate to it.
  • Some chapters have sub-sections. These will appear as drop-down menus in the sidebar that you can choose which section to go to.

Searching the text

  • Select search in the left hand sidebar.
  • Type your search term and click go.
  • Click on a search result to go to that page.

Making notes

  • Select add notes in the bottom left of the screen. Type your notes, then click outside the notes box. This will save your notes.
  • To review notes, select notes on the left-hand sidebar. Click on a note to navigate to the page in the book where you made the note.
  • Delete individual notes in the sidebar using the red 'X' button.
  • Export your notes by selecting notes in the top right then selecting export. You can save your notes in Word or plain text. You can then print your exported notes if you want to.
  • Delete all notes by selecting notes in the top right then selecting clear.


  • Bookmark a page by selecting bookmark in the top right then clicking add.
  • Return to your bookmarked page by selecting bookmark then go to page.
  • You can only bookmark one page at a time in 'read online' mode. To replace your bookmark with a new one, simply go to the page you want to bookmark then click bookmark and add. This will replace your old bookmark.


  • Zoom in and out using the plus and minus keys in the top right.

Changing the background colour in VLeBooks

  • Use the button with a colour wheel in the top right to change the background and font colour. This only applies in VLeBooks.


  • Select print in the top right. The pop up will tell you how many pages you may print according to copyright law.
  • If you have printed from a specific eBook before this will be remembered and will count as part of your total print allowance.

Using the VLe website

  • Select edit accessibility settings on the left side of the screen to alter how the website appears (this will not affect the e-books themselves)
  • Select email your library on the left side of the screen if you have a problem, to report the issue directly to library staff. Please include details of the problem you are having. Or use Ask a Librarian, with 24/7 live chat


Bookshelves allow you to store and find books later.

  • Add books to a Bookshelf using the button under the reading options. You can either use a pre-existing bookshelf or create a new one.
  • Bookshelves can be accessed using the Bookshelf tab at the top of the page, or through the My Bookshelves dropdown menu on the left of the screen.

Using the Dawsonera website


Bookshelves allow you to store and find books later.

  • Add books to a Bookshelf using the star next to the book title. This will allow you to store and find books later.
  • Your Bookshelf will be in the top right of the screen.
  • Use Recently Viewed to navigate back to books you have read recently, even if they are not in your Bookshelf.

Downloading an e-book

On VLeBooks

  • Select download.
  • Choose how many days you want to loan the book for and select download.
  • The website will generate a download link. Once this is finished, select click here to download.
  • In the pop-up select open with. In the drop-down menu choose Adobe Digital Editions.
  • If you have difficulties choosing Adobe Digital Editions, refer to the troubleshooting section.

On Dawsonera

  • Select download.
  • A pop-up will appear where you can choose how many days to "borrow" the book for.
  • You will also have to choose which e-book reader to use. We recommend Adobe Digital Editions.
  • In the pop-up, select open with. Adobe Digital Editions should be selected automatically if you have followed the previous step. If not, in the drop-down menu choose Adobe Digital Editions.
  • If you have difficulties choosing Adobe Digital Editions, refer to the troubleshooting section.

Using Adobe Digital Editions to read downloaded e-books

For instructions on downloading e-books, refer to the downloading an e-book section.

Note: You cannot print from Adobe Digital Editions.

  • If you download an e-book and choose to open with Adobe Digital Editions the book should open automatically in the software.
  • The first time you use Adobe Digital Editions you may get a pop up asking you to authorise Adobe Digital Editions on your computer. You can click the link at the bottom of the box to skip this step. Authorising Adobe Digital Editions will let you access books you have downloaded to your account on any computer.
  • To authorise your computer, follow the instructions given in Adobe Digital Editions to create an Adobe ID, then log in to Adobe Digital Editions. use your UWE Bristol email address to create the ID.
  • If you already have an Adobe ID you can simply log in.
  • If you want to remove the authorisation for your account from a computer, select help then erase authorisation.

Using the Library page

  • Return to your book library from reading mode by clicking Library in the top left.
  • Read a book either by clicking on it once, then selecting read in the top left. Alternatively, you can double click on the book.
  • Arrange your books by title, author or other options using the drop-down menu in the top right.
  • Use the 'view items as thumbnails' and 'view items as list buttons' in the top right to choose how your e-book library displays.
  • Re-download books that have expired by right clicking on them to download again. This may not work depending on the particular eBook you are using. If you encounter problems, refer to the troubleshooting section.
  • Remove expired books you no longer need by right clicking on the title and selecting remove from library.

Using bookshelves

  • Create bookshelves by clicking the plus symbol on the left-hand side (next to the Bookshelves heading).
  • Move books to Bookshelves by right-clicking on the book, selecting copy to bookshelf and choosing the shelf you want to use.
  • Rename or delete bookshelves by clicking on the bookshelf you want to alter, clicking the cog symbol (next to the Bookshelves heading) and selecting rename or delete.

Reading books


  • Zoom in and out by clicking the page icon next to the search box in the top right and selecting how you would like to view the book.

Using the navigation panel

  • Click on the list icon (next to the flag in the top left) to open the navigation panel if it is not automatically open.
  • The leftmost option in the panel is the Table of Contents. Click on chapters with arrows next to them to expand or collapse that section of the list. Click on chapter headings to navigate to that section fo the book. Click on the settings cog at the top of the panel to expand or collapse all chapters at once.
  • The middle option in the navigation panel is Bookmarks. See the section on making notes and bookmarking for information.

Finding pages

  • Scroll up and down to move between pages.
  • Navigate to a specific page by typing the page number into the box at the bottom of the screen and pressing enter. You can also go to reading in the top left, choose go to page, enter the page number in the pop-up and click OK.

Searching the text

  • Type a search term into the search box in the top right then press enter. Move between search results by clicking the arrows to the right of the search box.

Making notes, highlighting and bookmarking

  • Find all your bookmarks notes and highlights in the Bookmarks tab of the Navigation Panel on the left-hand side. Click on one of your notes to navigate back to it.
  • To bookmark a page, click the flag icon in the top left (next to the Library button). You can also right click on the page itself and select bookmark page. The flag will turn large and red on a page that is bookmarked.
  • Highlight the text by clicking and dragging to select a selection of text. Right click on the selected text and choose highlight.
  • Make a note by clicking and dragging to select a section of text. Right click on the selected text and choose add note to text. A yellow box will pop up over the book where you can write your notes. Move this note around by clicking in the grey bar of the note and dragging. Resize it by clicking on the bottom right corner (where there are small lines) and dragging. Hide notes by clicking the minus sign in the top left of the note box. Shown hidden notes by double clicking on the note in the Navigation Panel or by right clicking on the page where the note is and choosing open pop-up note.
  • Delete bookmarks, notes and highlights by clicking on the item in the Navigation Panel and pressing delete. You can also click the settings cog and choose delete selected or simply click on the red bookmark flag in the top left.

Other e-books

You may find e-books on other websites such as EBSCO or Cambridge Core.

  • For EBSCO e-books, you can read the full book online using the PDF full text link on the left-hand sidebar. You can also scroll down to the table of contents and choose to read a specific chapter online. A download link is also available in the left-hand sidebar.
  • Most other websites look different but function very similarly. You can choose to read online or download PDFs of whole texts or chapters.
  • Downloaded PDFs from these sites can be read in any PDF reader (eg Adobe reader). They do not require Adobe Digital Editions.


  • There's no 'read online' or 'download' option after closing the preview.
    There is an error with the setup of the book. Use the 'Email your libary' button to report the problem.
  • There is no download option.
    Some books cannot be downloaded. This is usually a decision made by the publisher and unfortunately canot be changed.
  • The book has no credits.
    These books have a limit on how many times they can be used (called credits) before we have to buy more copies. Library staff monitor this and would normally buy more credits before they ran out, but sometimes credits run out faster than anticipated or there is another issue. Use the 'Email your library' button to report the problem.
  • This title is reserved by other users.
    Some books may only be used by one reader at a time. You can enter your email address into the popup box to put yourself in the reservation queue. You will then be alerted when the book is available for you to use. You will have a limited time window to activate your reservation before the book is passed on to the next person waiting. Library staff monitor usage of these limited access titles and purchase additional copies where possible to ease demand, but queues cannot always be completely eliminated.
  • The book closed by itself and I can't open it again.
    Some books have limitations on how long you can read them and will automatically end your session after that time. Some books also time out if you do not turn a page for more than 15 minutes. If you cannot open it again, there is most probably a queue waiting to use it that you must enter.
  • My book on Dawsonera has timed out and taken me back to the homepage. How do I find the book again?
    The best thing to do is to go back to the library catalogue or your reading list and find the book there. This will link you back to the book and log you in.
  • The system encountered unexpected behaviour and could not recover or Oops something unexpected occurred.
    This error message means there is a problem with the website that has to be resolved by the supplier. Library staff will report this as soon as they are aware of it. Please use the 'Email your library' function to alert us.
  • I downloaded a book from VLeBooks or Dawsonera but it won't open.
    • If you are on a personal computer, ensure you have Adobe Digital Editions installed (all library and learning zone computers should have it). Or download it to your device: download Adobe Digital Editions.
    • If you have saved the e-book, find the file in your Downloads folder. The file name will be a string of numbers and the file format will be .acsm. Right click on the file and select 'Open with' then choose Adobe Digital Editions.
    • If Adobe Digital Editions is not on the options list, click Choose another app then More apps, then Look for another app on this PC (Windows 10) or the equivalent options on other operating systems.
    • Go to the C: drive (System, This PC or equivalent), then choose the Program files (x86) folder. Go to the Adobe folder, then Adobe Digital Editions. Select the file called DigitalEditions and click Open.
    • Make sure to tick the box to always use Adobe Digital Editions to open this file type to avoid having to repeat this process.
    • If you have not yet downloaded the e-book, choose Open with in the download popup. Use the dropdown menu to choose which program to open the file with, then follow the above instructions to select Adobe Digital Editions.

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