Thinking about how you intend to get your eBooks can be useful for helping you decide which reader or app to get

eBooks are bought online, through a website called an eBook store. More and more libraries are loaning eBooks, and you access their website from home, or take your eBook reader or app to the library and get some help. Borrowing an eBook from someone who has bought it, however, is still not possible or easy.

Buy eBooks

Each eBook reader or app will have an online bookstore associated with it. You can buy your books from this bookstore either from within the reader or app, or by visiting it with a web browser. Note that the accessibility features on some eBook readers do not work when you visit the bookstore.

You have to create an account with the bookstore (if this wasn't done when you set it up), and then any book you buy is sent to any eBook reader or app using the same account details.  You can usually only download a book to five or six devices using the same account.

Physical books such as Waterstones, Foyles and WH Smith also have online bookstores, and some shops like Pottermore and LoveReading only exist on the web.

Some of these shops sell books in one format only, while others sell multiple formats of their books for different eBook readers and apps. Check - before you buy - that you will be able to read the eBook on your chosen eBook reader or app! On any bookstore, you can search for a particular title or author, or browse a genre such as children's, romance or horror.


Unlike print books, eBooks are not exempt from VAT. This means they sometimes cost a little more than their paper counterparts. However, there are often very good deals and offers to be had. In addition, there are many thousands of free eBooks, including popular classics that are now out of copyright. Many aspiring authors publish their own eBooks and sell them at bargain prices.

Free eBooks

You can get free eBooks from online bookstores or other websites, for instance:

Borrow eBooks

A growing number of public libraries are now offering eBook loans.

Loans are time limited, as with standard borrowing, but you are usually given the option to extend the loan period, renew or borrow again. Normally you will need to visit your local library's website where you can log in using your library card number.

Your library  will be able to tell you whether your eBook reader or app can be used to read their loans. You may need to download software such as Adobe Digital Editions or Overdrive to your computer or smartphone to allow you to access eBooks.