E-reading at MIT
With the recent explosion of e-readers and reading apps, the world of e-reading can be difficult to navigate. If you don't find the help you need here, ask us.
Frequently asked questions about e-reading
At this point, the MIT Libraries are unable to provide entire books that you can download onto an e-reading device. We would love to provide downloadable e-content of all kinds to the MIT community. Unfortunately, most publishers have made it very difficult or impossible for academic libraries to allow users to download e-books to e-reading devices. We'll continue to work with publishers to get the content that MIT users want, how they want it.
- Early English Books Online (EEBO) - download entire books as PDFs. See instructions.
- Eighteenth Century Books Online (ECCO) - download 250 pages at a time.
- HathiTrust - download entire books as PDFs. Check the box for "full view only" to search only for downloadable books. When you download a PDF, you may need to log-in via Touchstone as an MIT community member first.
Some e-books and e-journals will allow you to download a PDF of one page, chapter, or article at a time. Generally, if you see that a downloadable PDF is available, you can transfer that PDF to most e-reading devices, including Kindle, iPads, and NOOK. To find out how, see the answer for "How do you transfer a PDF file from a computer to an e-reading device?"
In addition, there are a few ways to get free books for your device:
- Public libraries in the area offer access to download many popular books and audiobooks through a system called "Overdrive." Overdrive works with all major e-reading devices.
- Boston Public Library: Massachusetts residents (including students) can apply online for a BPL eCard that will allow access to BPL's e-books on Overdrive.
- Minuteman Library Network: Check the list of libraries to see if you qualify as a member, then visit Minuteman Library Network's Overdrive to get started.
- There are many free books available for download, including many classics in the public domain. Some of the e-books in the resources listed in this guide for free Kindle books can be downloaded by many other devices, too.
The steps for transferring a PDF from your computer to your e-reading device are different for each device. Using Dropbox is one popular way, and here are a few guides that can help transfer PDFs to major devices:
- Apple devices: iBooks: Viewing, syncing, saving, and printing PDFs on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch
- Amazon Kindle: Transferring, downloading, and sending files to Kindle
- Barnes & Noble Nook: Search NOOK support pages for help.
MIT users have access to numerous e-books that can be read in a web browser. Go to the Barton catalog to search for the title of e-book, or browse our E-books guide for a list of e-book packages available to the MIT community.
That depends. If the journal allows you to download a PDF of the article, you can transfer it to your e-reading device. See the answer for "How do you transfer a PDF file from a computer to an e-reading device?"
We don't currently offer access to audio e-books, but there are a few options:
- Browse the collection of audio books on CD on the second floor of Hayden Library, or if there's a particular title you're interested in, search Barton. To see a list of all of our audiobooks, try doing an a keyword search in Barton for "audiobooks."
- Try using Overdrive to download audio books to your iPod or other device, as described above.
There are many options out there, but here are a few to try:
- GoodReader - an app that allows you to save and annotate PDFs, including highlighting, note-taking, and drawing on the PDF.
- Apple's iBooks app - For more info, see "Best Tips for Using iBooks as a PDF Reader on Your iPad or iPhone."
Also, check out the Reading section of our Apps for Academics guide.
See step-by-step instructions on how to add books to the iPad, iPhone and iTouch.
There are many apps you can download to help you save and organize PDFs, and a few good options include GoodReader and iBooks. GoodReader offers more options for annotating, and iBooks is a more simple option. To use iBooks to save PDF email attachments, see this article on "Saving PDF File Attachments for Further Reading." After you download the apps, when you click on an PDF email attachment, you'll be given an option about which app you want to open it with.
It really depends on your personal reading preferences, as well as what kind of content you read. There are numerous helpful comparisons on the web, including these blog posts:
- Ars Technica: "Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet: which one should you buy?"
- CNET: "Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad: Which e-book reader should you buy?"
- Lifehacker: "Five Best Ebook Readers"