Digital rights management (DRM) is a form of digital security to protect and control the use of copyrighted digital media. It is a mechanism applied by most publishers that includes features such as restrictions on borrowing time, the amount of copying and printing of pages permitted, and the number of users who can access the material simultaneously.

Adobe Digital Editions is software that allows you to access and download ebooks (in ePub and PDF formats) that have DRM. Carleton University Library has several ebook collections that require an Adobe ID and Adobe Digital Editions software to borrow and download ebooks, including:

Note: Before downloading an ebook, it is recommended to complete the following setup process, to avoid download complications.

Setting up your Adobe ID and Adobe Digital Editions

Download and install Adobe Digital Editions here. If you are accessing ebooks through Scholars Portal Books, version 3 of the software is recommended. (Other versions will work also)

Go here to set up your Adobe ID, which is a free personal account. This ID and login are limited for use on six (6) personal devices.

Note: Record all login information for future use.

Check for the installer file which may be on your Desktop or default Downloads folder. You are looking for a file called ADE_3.0_Installer.exe or the equivalent of the version downloaded.

Double click the file to run it and follow the prompts in the Install Wizard/Setup Assistant.

Note: follow the default settings during the setup that your computer suggests.

Open Adobe Digital Editions

  (more recent version of Adobe Digital editions)

Locate the Adobe Digital Editions icon - check the Desktop, the Start Menu or default Downloads folder.

Authorize your device(s) with Adobe Digital Editions and Adobe ID

To read ebooks on a device (or multiple devices) you will need to authorize each of them using your Adobe ID. (If you haven't yet set up an Adobe ID, you will be prompted to do so)

Enter your Adobe ID and password that you have created (and made note of). You are now set up to borrow ebooks.

Downloading ebooks and reading with Adobe Digital Editions

To access and download ebooks, search, for example, Omni or the Databases tagged 'eBook Collections' page.

From there, you can select a database and browse a selection of titles we have access to.

Note: We may not have access to all e-resource material within a given database. Most database subscriptions vary over time, with new titles being added or some removed from the collection.

Most databases include their own online reader so that ebooks/chapters can be read within the browser screen. However, it is recommended to use a DRM compatible reader for a better reading experience. Most database providers, recommend Adobe Digital Editions for Desktop/PC devices. (The equivalent, BlueFire Reader is recommended for mobile devices)

If you wish to borrow or download the entire book, some ebook databases also require additional logins (personal accounts set up on their platforms) These personal logins also provide additional features such as placing a "Hold" on an item, highlighting portions of text, adding notes, sharing references etc.

Note: These personal accounts are used along with your MyCarletonOne, and are usually free registrations. It is recommended that you set these up in advance, again, making note of all login credentials.

When you click on a link to download the ebook of choice, follow the prompts. When the download is complete, it should automatically detect Adobe Digital Editions. Once downloaded, the ebook cover of the title, should appear within the main Library screen of the software (providing everything has been registered and authorized correctly)

If the ebook doesn't open automatically, you may notice a file (acsm* file) pop up on your screen. It will prompt you to choose a program: select Adobe Digital Editions and click OK.

The following screen shots provide an example of the .acsm file prompting for a reader program to be selected to open the ebook file.

Note: * ACSM stands for Adobe Content Server Manager. A file ending with this extension, is not an actual ebook file, but helps manage the download of the ebook and works with Adobe Digital Editions and equivalent DRM reading software (eg. BlueFire Reader)

Since ebook files can vary in size, some download times may take longer to complete.

When the download is complete, the ebook will appear in the Library screen of Adobe Digital Editions. The book cover provides information on the remaining loan period status of the borrowed item. Once the borrowing period is over, the title will no longer be available for reading on your device. You also have the option to return the title before the loan period has ended.

To read the ebook, click the book cover of the selected title and it will open.

Details on printing and copying permissions of ebooks

Each ebook will provide details, including permissions related to printing and copying allowances. These allowances have been predetermined by the publisher.

To find this information, right click on the selected ebook cover, then click Item Info. You will find the total amount of pages allowed for printing and copying within a 24 hr period from when the ebook was first borrowed/accessed.

Please note: If the printing and copying amount exceeds the daily allowance, or if the entire ebook is copied over several days, this is considered to be a copyright violation.

Removing expired ebook loans

To delete expired ebook covers within the Library screen, right click on the cover and choose Remove from Library. The .acsm file associated with the expired ebook, although no longer active, remains on your device until you manually delete it. (It is not necessary to remove these files as they are no longer active)

Return an ebook before the expiry date

You may want to return an ebook early, before the borrowing period ends. To do so, right click on the selected ebook cover, and click "Return Borrowed Item". Doing so, releases the ebook loan from your account, so that it can be borrowed by other patrons.

Further details on using the Adobe Digital Editions app, can be found by reading "Getting Started with Adobe Digital Editions" which is included within the app Library screen.


Why do i have to authorize my device?

This is to ensure that you are the individual borrowing the ebooks and the user of the devices with Adobe Digital Editions installed. The Adobe ID is used to verify this information. Any ebooks that you borrow will be associated with that single Adobe ID account whether you use it on one device or six.

How long is my borrowing time ?

Usually the publisher determines borrowing times. When you download the ebook, you will be provided with the return date. Within Adobe Digital Editions, click File > Item Info to see the due back date and other restrictions in copying and printing. You do have the option to return the ebook before the borrowing date expires. Right click on the ebook cover and choose Return Borrowed Item.

I already have an Adobe ID and password set up. What if i have forgotten my password?

You can easily reset your password by clicking on the following link. It is highly recommended to make note of all logins and passwords for future use.

Do I have to be connected to the Internet to read e-books?

Not necessarily. If you have downloaded the ebook to your desktop, using Adobe Digital Editions or to your mobile device (using BlueFire app) you can access the ebook without internet.

Can I use a computer in the library to download Adobe Digital Editions?

Unfortunately, no. Since Adobe has set limitations on the number of devices (six in total) that can be authorized with a single Adobe ID login, you must use your own PC or mobile device(s)

Will Adobe Digital Editions run on my mobile/tablet device?

Yes, however the free BlueFire Reader app is recommended for iOS and Android devices to read ebooks. It is an equivalent software (app) that accepts the same Adobe ID login to authorize device(s). Check your devices app store or the FAQ at

Note: EBSCO eBooks™ can also be accessed on iOS and Android devices using the EBSCO Mobile App.

For a complete list of Adobe Digital Editions compatible visit

For further information, please check Adobe Digital Editions, FAQ and Help page. Please check their Learn and Support page as needed.

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