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Ebooks: Finding ebooks


The majority of books held by the Bodleian Libraries, in both physical and electronic formats, can be searched for via SOLO. This page includes information to help identify and search for electronic books (ebooks) on SOLO, and explains why some books are not available electronically.

What are ebooks?

Ebooks are digital versions of written works. Broadly speaking they come in two forms: they are either 'born digital' or are digital reproductions of printed books. Many ebooks have enhanced functionality, such as connectivity with reference management software, the ability to annotate and accessibility features. Some other benefits are listed below.

  • In most cases, ebooks offer remote 24/7 access for members of the University of Oxford.
  • Ebooks do not go missing, get damaged or defaced.
  • Ebooks do not take up any physical space, making more library space available for study.
  • Ebooks do not count towards any loan allowances.

Finding ebooks

The best place to look for Bodleian Libraries ebooks is SOLO. For more information on using SOLO, please visit the guide below.

Follow the steps in the tabs above for detailed instructions on finding ebooks in SOLO.

Type the details of the book you wish to find in the search bar of SOLO and click the red magnifying glass. You may wish to change the drop-down menu from 'Search Everything' to 'Oxford Collections' to avoid retrieving book reviews.

If an ebook is available it will appear either as an individual record, or as a 'clustered' record including other versions of the book. The latter is the case here.

Click on the record for more information. 

Screenshot of a SOLO search for 'thinking through fashion' by 'smelik'. The search terms, the search button (red magnifying glass), and the top result are underlined in light blue.

In this example, all five versions of the book are listed separately. There are two print versions and three electronic versions which have '[electronic resource]' included in the title. To find out more information about the print versions, click the black 'Find & Request' link under the relevant entry. Note that you can filter out online or physical resources using the options in the 'Sort & Filter Results' menu to the left-hand side. 

Note also that there are two types of the electronic version of the book listed. One version has a green 'Online access' link, the other two have orange links saying 'Electronic Legal Deposit item - available via Bodleian Libraries reading room PCs only'.

The version with the green link is an ebook which the Bodleian Libraries have purchased, or which is freely available on the web. This is the type of ebook considered in more detail in this guide. Click on the green link to be redirected to the content.

The versions with an orange link are Legal Deposit ebooks. UK publishers provide these ebooks because of the Bodleian Library's role as a Legal Deposit library. Click on the orange link to be redirected to the content.

This guide does not consider Electronic Legal Deposit material in detail. For more information, please visit the guide below.

Screenshot of a SOLO record for the resource 'Thinking Through Fashion' by 'Semilik'. Five versions of the resource are listed separately, with the links to each underlined in light blue.

Why are some books not available electronically?

The Bodleian Libraries seeks to continually expand its ebook collections in step with its efirst policy.

However, there are a number of reasons why the Bodleian Libraries may be unable to provide electronic access to a book. The Social Science Library have produced a brief blog post explaining some of these reasons. A fuller explanation has been provided by the Bodleian Libraries Ebook Steering Group.