- Which books can I read? And how do I find them?
- How do I read or download books on Open Library?
- How do I find books written in my language?
- I have found a book but there isn't a readable version. Is something wrong?
- What is the difference between "Works" and "Editions"?
- If this is a library, why can I only read some of the books?
- Back to main FAQ page
Which books can I read? And how do I find them?
Open Library has millions of records for books that are not yet available in digital form; it also has nearly three million books that are available in digital form. There are a few ways to search Open Library
- The search box on every page which is also available here. Make sure the "show only eBooks" box is checked. You can get to advanced search options by clicking the "More search options" link to search by ISBN or Publisher among other things.
- Full text search - this searches inside books that we have the full text for.
- This page on our wiki explains some of the advanced search syntax available for users.
How do I read or download books on Open Library?
Start with a search for a book.
- Books that are freely available for reading or download will have an open book "read" icon next to them.
- Books that have a "borrow" closed book icon next to them can be borrowed for up to two weeks. Go to the borrowing FAQ section for more information on borrowing.
- Books that have a "lock" icon next to them are only available to those who are blind or visually impaired and registered with the National Library Service of the Library of Congress. Go to the [print disabled FAQ section] for more information on this program.
You can search for eBooks by checking the box that says "show only eBooks" when you search.
Once you've found an eBook, you can see its available formats: PDF, plain text, DAISY, ePub, DjVu, MOBi, and "Send to Kindle." Choose your format by clicking on it.
- You will see a link that says "Read online" if a book is available for online reading. When you click on this tab, the book will automatically open up in your browser using the Open Library BookReader.
- Clicking on "PDF" will start a PDF download.
- Clicking on "Plain text" will reveal the text produced through an optical character recognition software process.
- DAISY books are only accessible to the blind and visually impaired, as explained in the print-disabled FAQ section.
- Clicking on "ePub" will initiate an ePub file download. You will need reader software installed on your computer, e-reader, or phone to read this file.
- DjVu is a format that will stream book images (no download).
- "Send to Kindle" will send the book to your Kindle device. This book has a Send to Kindle option. NOTE: For now, this feature works only for Kindle owners in the U.S.
How do I find books written in my language?
Open Library has books in many languages. The best way to find books in your language is to do a search for the language and on the search results page, look at the categories on the righthand column of the results page and click on the language you are looking for. Here are a few examples
- Ebooks where at least one edition is in Italian.
- Ebooks on the subject of history that are in Latin.
- Ebooks about the 19th Century that have an editing in Chinese
I have found a book but it isn't in a readable format. Is something wrong?
No! This just means that we don't have that book in digitized form yet. You can perform your search again by checking the box that says "show only eBooks" to see if we have might have it anywhere in digitized form. If you don't find it on Open Library, you might want to try other collections of digitized books such as [Hathi Trust] or [Google Books].
What is the difference between "Works" and "Editions"?
Open Library has two levels of book records: the Work level and the Edition level. The Work level record is the governing record and it will list Editions below it. An example of a Work is "Huckleberry Finn." An example of an Edition is "the 1945 Modern Library Edition of "Huckleberry Finn." The Work level record will have a different ID, which ends in a W. Each edition level record will have its own ID; all edition level records end with the letter M.
If you want to add a general description of a book (for example what it is about) -- which we greatly encourage -- please do so at the Work level.
If this is a library, why can I only read some of the books?
Unfortunately, most books remain unavailable in electronic form. For those books, we have only a record. Open Library is a long-term project to provide a complete catalog of all books and, incrementally, as many of those books as possible in freely available electronic form.
History Created January 15, 2011 ·
|June 13, 2013||Edited by Jessamyn West||added links to searching and advanced searching|
|June 13, 2013||Edited by Jessamyn West||added language entry|
|May 16, 2013||Edited by Jessamyn West||Edited without comment.|
|May 16, 2013||Edited by Jessamyn West||link to print-disabled FAQ|
|January 15, 2011||Created by girl2k||Edited without comment.|