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Ebooks @ Pitt

This guide describes the many ebook resources available through the University Library System and how to access them.

Google Books

In order to use Google Books, you must first Create a Google Account.

Google Books searches and preview millions of books from libraries and publishers worldwide. Book Search works just like web search. Try a search on Google Books or on When a book with content matches your search terms, it is in your search results.

If the book is out of copyright, or the publisher has given Google permission, you'll be able to see a preview of the book, and in some cases the entire text. If it's in the public domain, you're free to download a PDF copy.

You also have links to "Buy this book" and "Borrow this book" to see where you can buy it or borrow the print book from a library.

Google obtains books in two ways: the Partner Program (publishers & authors) and the Library Project.

Google Books has over 10 million free available books for users. (September 2023)

All of the books via Google Books are full-text searchable. Anyone can search and view the Ebooks. Public domain books are downloadable via PDF.

How Books Appear in Google Books
Full View You can see books in Full View if the book is out of copyright, or if the publisher or author has asked to make the book fully viewable. The Full View allows you to view any page from the book, and if the book is in the public domain, you can download, save and print a PDF version to read at your own pace.
Limited Preview If the publisher or author has given us permission, you can see a limited number of pages from the book as a preview.
Snippet View The Snippet View, like a card catalog, shows information about the book plus a few snippets – a few sentences to display your search term in context.
No Preview Available Like a card catalog, you're able to see basic information about the book.

For further assistance with compatibility and downloading with Google Books, see the "Free Ebooks on the Web" tab on the Compatibility with E-Readers and Devices page. 

If you need additional support, Ask Us.

Public Domain vs. Copyright Protected Books

public domain book is one that was either never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. It might be a novel like Moby Dick (first published in 1851), or an ancient work like Aristotle's observations on bees.

Books in the public domain are fully available in Google Books which means that you can page through the book from start to finish in your browser, or download a copy of the eBook as a PDF.

For users in the U.S., Google Books currently treats all books published after 1923 as protected by copyright. The display options for copyrighted books include No PreviewSnippet View, or Limited Preview.

Getting a Copy of the Book at the Library

To see if a library has the book, click  and you will be redirected to When logged into a campus computer or remotely, the availability at Pitt and other local libraries will be displayed. If the book is not available locally, you will get a sense of other libraries that hold the book and can place Interlibrary Loan or EZBorrow request for it.  

To see if your book is available through the University of Pittsburgh's library, search with PittCat


Help with Google Books

For help navigating any of the features of Google Books, use Ask Us to call, email, text or chat with a librarian from Pitt. You can also explore the Google Books Help Center for additional support from Google.


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