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Reading Lists: Electronic Resources

Why might an electronic resource be unavailable?

Unfortunately, it is not always possible for us to purchase e-books, and this is why we might ask you to find another resource that is available electronically.

Why is it not always possible to purchase an e-book?

  • The library can only purchase e-books which are licenced for universities.
  • Kindle books aren’t available for Library purchase.
  • Some e-books are priced beyond the Library's budget. For example, one specific e-book cost £31.49 for the Kindle version, and £650 for a 3-user licence e-book for Universities (i.e., an e-book that can only be used by 3 people at any one time). Another example is a print book that cost £51.99, while the same text as a 3-user licence e-book cost £1,050. 
  • Some licence terms mean that the e-books are not owned by the library or make it very difficult for students to access the e-books. Often there is no choice in the terms. They include:
    • Credit model e-books: payment is for a certain number of ‘credits’, which represent the number of times the e-book is used. When these credits have been used up, more payment is needed (often at a higher price per credit).
    • Subscription model e-books: an annual fee is paid to retain access to the e-book. The cost often increases each year.
    • Single-user licences: these e-books can only be read by one person at a time, removing a key benefit of e-books.
    • Changes in access: publishers sometimes stop selling the e-book version of a particular title, or may change the licence terms. For example, a 3-user licence for an e-book may change to a single-user licence.
  • Some e-books are only sold as part of larger packages. This can mean the Library has to spend more on unwanted resources in order to provide access to the few that are needed.
  • Some books are only sold as part of e-textbook models, where content is licenced for specific, very restricted cohorts on an annual basis.

Being aware of the above points when signing author agreements for publishing your own e-books can help to stop these terms restricting student and researcher access to your work. If you are interested in learning more about this we have a guide on open access publishing.

If we are unable to purchase an e-book for any of these reasons you will be notified via email.

If you have any questions about electronic resources please get in touch at

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Autumn/Full Year Modules: 
31st July

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31st October