Q. How many people can use an e-book at the same time?
Not all e-books are the same. Some are open and easy to download as PDFs while others are locked down by publishers and re-sellers using something called DRM or "Digital Rights Management."
A Quick Guide:
- E-books available on the publisher's platform usually provide unlimited access
- Examples: Springer, Cambridge, Oxford etc
- E-books on the JSTOR platform have unlimited access
- E-book databases from EBSCO and ProQuest can have restrictions
Most of the e-books the library acquires directly through publishers are open and available to download for unlimited simultaneous users, which means an unlimited number of people can read the book at the same time.
The EBSCO and ProQuest e-book platforms are more likely to lock down access and restrict users to either 1 user at a time, 3 users at a time, or put a limit on the total number of uses a book can have per year. You can view the access restrictions by clicking on a book and looking at the description.
Here is an example from EBSCO:
It is not always easy to tell the difference between e-book publishers and re-sellers, and the access information can be in different places depending on where the book comes from. When in doubt, please Ask a Librarian and we can confirm whether or not a title has any access restrictions.