While researching the topic for my annotated bibliography, I found that some of the books were available as e-Books. There are advantages and disadvantages of such books.
In fact I found eBooks from different sources. The first was from ebrary and the second came from NetLibrary [now a part of EBSCO]. In both cases, I was using the online catalog from the IUPUI University Library. I needed to convince the servers that I had permission to read the books; connecting to the library network was sufficient.
First, with ebrary, I had to download their reader. After that, I saw images of the actual pages of the book. I had the choice of viewing one page at a time or the two facing pages. I could zoom in to read it better or zoom out to see the whole page. The table of contents was available at the left; I could go straight to the chapter I wanted. I could also back up to see the title page and the front cover.
NetLibrary had a similar interface. But with NetLibrary, it was not the entire page that was reproduced--only the text. The font changed and the paragraphs filled the frame at the right of the browser. The table of contents was almost the same.
I should add that Amazon will also allow you to read excerpts, see the book covers, and so on.
It was convenient to read the books without having to go to the stacks. I did not try to copy any text into my word processors. If I find something in the index, there is often a hyperlink to the appropriate page.
But there are also difficulties with electronic books. You can't just browse to whatever page falls open. In order to read an e-book, you must first choose the page. And there's nothing to hold in your hands with e-books (except maybe the mouse). In case of a power outage, you can still read a printed book by candlelight or in daylight.