Where do I BUY pdf versions of academic monographs?
May 22, 2016 12:37 PM   Subscribe

*NOT ASKING FOR HOW TO DOWNLOAD ILLEGALLY* Where do I go to buy academic books (monographs in anthropology, comp lit, and so forth) as PDFs? I can't imagine this isn't already a thing-- fill me in on that missed memo!

I am writing a dissertation in the humanities and often need to reference books. Lots and lots of books. I'd like to be more mobile, and bring PDFs rather than actual physical books.

These books are often published relatively recently (so no complete PDF floating on the net yet), and they for sale as kindle ebooks on amazon (i.e. on Amazon you can buy hardcover, paperback, or kindle) and you get pdf previews, so I know they are already digitized. But where do I go to buy them? I am not asking for tips on downloading-- I do want to pay for the books. Where do I go to buy them in PDFs? (the kindle format is very hard to use for academic purposes as there's no page numbers)
posted by redwaterman to Education (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Depending on your university's library (and of course on the whims of the publisher), electronic copies may be available for some titles. In my experience, sometimes they are in Adobe Digital Edition format, and sometimes they're viewable online and downloadable in chunks as PDFs.
posted by Bromius at 12:53 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I suspect that many books are not released as PDFs precisely because plenty of people out there are not so scrupulous as you are about paying for them. Hardcover, paperback, and Kindle format are much harder to copy and disseminate freely.

Could you use the kindle format and a hard copy in concert with each other? I could imagine a workflow where you have all the electronic books on your Kindle so that you can travel light, write down a snippet of text in your dissertation draft as needed, and then later, when you're back in your office, figure out what the appropriate page numbers for your citations are in the hard copy.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:54 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Usually you go to the publisher's web page or the library. There are really a very small list of places to buy books online and if you don't find it for sale on Amazon or the publisher's website (or whoever sells for the publisher) then you can assume that a PDF is not available. PDFs can be tricky since they are harder to slap DRM on to than AZW files but sometimes people can do it. If your only issue with the Kindle is citations I'd just be trying to work that angle otherwise. Or use AMZ's Search Inside feature to track down page numbers (stupid, I know, but would work) Some Kindles (3 and above) can show page numbers and some books have this enabled. I'd be surprised if academic books weren't leading the charge in this.
posted by jessamyn at 12:56 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just finished a thesis in Arts and Hum. If you use the online Kindle viewer, you'll find some kindle editions have static page numbers (of course, you should still note that it's a kindle edition, the pages won't match up with the print edition). Otherwise, find the publisher and search for the book on their site, they may have a digital copy for download (beware, these are very expensive). One thing I did was periodically go to the uni library just to look up page numbers for citations I had originally sourced from my kindle. Really, readers should be aware that many books don't have static pages but I've had peer reviewers and examiners refuse to accept a citation without page numbers, so you are right to seek out a solution.
posted by dumdidumdum at 1:52 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

In case the publishers don't have PDFs available, you should be able to find some guidance online for how to cite Kindle documents, like this one for APA style.
posted by MsMolly at 1:55 PM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Google Play Store often sells academic monographs in both reflowable and PDF formats. You can pick which you want.
posted by crazy with stars at 4:21 PM on May 22, 2016

Seconding GooglePlay.

If your library has an eBrary subscription, you can download temporary PDF copies.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:23 PM on May 22, 2016

1) Our school's disability resource center will, when provided a title, either:
a: cut, scan to PDF, re-bind with spiral
b: get a PDF from the publisher

2) Our school's library also has a lot of academic texts available as PDFs.

3) I have personally had about 50/50 luck getting PDFs directly from publishers. Phone calls seem to work best.

4) Way less optimal: I have personally scanned dozens of my own books while watching movies. This sucks.

Good luck!
posted by MonsieurBon at 7:50 PM on May 22, 2016

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