Citing books accessed on ereaders can be difficult for several reasons. You may wonder, is it cited as a book or as a file? How do you specify where a direct quotation came from if there are no static page numbers? Where in the citation do you indicate which ereader you accessed it on?
Overall, the various formats suggest that books accessed on ereaders be treated as digital files when citing. Below are details on how to cite in the various styles. We still suggest that you check with your instructor in case they have any special instructions for citing books accessed on ereaders.
According to the Chronicle, ebooks in MLA should be cited as digital files (like a Microsoft Word document or PDF posted online is cited). The Purdue OWL shows examples of how to cite digital files (near the bottom of the page). To correctly format the citation for ebooks, follow MLA guidelines for citing a book but indicate the type of digital file you accessed at the end of the citation. This may be something like nook color file, Kindle file, or Adobe Digital Edition file. Here's an example from eduKindle on what a citation for Freakonomics, accessed on the Kindle, might look like:
Stephen, Levitt D. Freakonomics. Rev. and Expanded ed. New York: Harper Collins, 2006. Kindle file.
An additional example:
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Mariner Books, 1990. Kindle file.
To indicate where a specific passage of text came from if the source lacks page numbers, MLA recommends section and paragraph numbers be used, if available.
Refer to Rule 5.7.18 for more information on citing a digital file. Refer to Rules 6.2, 6.4.1-2, and 6.4.8 for more information on citing a work with no page numbers.
For the reference list, include the author, year, book title, the version of book you read, and the DOI or URL where you downloaded the book. If the full URL is very long (like the URL for O'Brien's book in the example below was), give the homepage URL and a description of where to find the book from there, or the store name—your preference (e.g., Amazon Kindle store or http://www.amazon.com). The first example below is from the APA's blog post and shows how to use a DOI in the citation, if one is provided. The second example shows how to cite a book with no DOI provided:
Brill, P. (2004). The winner’s way [Adobe Digital Editions version]. doi:10.1036/007142363X
O'Brien, T. (1990). The things they carried [Kindle Fire version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
See Chapter 7 of the 6th ed. of the Publication Manual (examples 19, 20, and 21) for some more help.
In-text citations can be confusing because e-books often lack page numbers. Kindle books have “location numbers,” which are static, but are useless to others without a Kindle. Certain models of Kindles have page numbers available. That will also depend on if the publisher has made them available for that particular e-book. To cite in text for e-books lacking page numbers it is suggested by the APA that you either paraphrase (e.g., "O'Brien, 1990"), or use APA’s guidelines for direct quotations of online material without pagination (Section 6.05 in the manual) and name the major sections (chapter, section, and paragraph number; abbreviate if titles are long) in the book.
If a book has numbered chapters and sections, here's an example given by the APA of how to cite a direct quotation with chapter, section, and paragraph numbers:
One of the author’s main points is that “people don’t rise from nothing” (Gladwell, 2008, Chapter 1, Section 2, para. 5).
See Section 6.05 for more details on citing direct quotations of electronic sources without page numbers.
The Chicago Manual of Style website provides examples of how to cite ebooks on its website under 'Book published electronically'.
In your citation, include the author, title, editor (if there is one), publication information, and the version of the book you consulted. If you used the book online, include the URL. Include an access date only if required by your publisher or discipline. If no fixed pagination is available, include a section title, chapter or other number.
The Manual website offers examples of how to cite ebooks in both the notes and bibliography style and the author-date style. A couple of our own examples are shown below. Consult the Manual's website to see additional examples:
Notes and Bibliography:
1. Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried (Boston: Mariner Books, 1990), Kindle edition.
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Mariner Books, 1990. Kindle edition.
O'Brien, Tim. 1990. The Things They Carried. Boston: Mariner Books. Kindle edition.
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