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AFB American Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Frequently Asked Questions

AFB Press ePublications are electronic versions of books that have been published by AFB Press and include e-books, online subscriptions, and ASCII files for downloading. AFB Press has made every effort to optimize its e-books for all types of e-readers, make them completely accessible, and format them so that all elements, including tables and figures, are readable. However, customers should note that not all e-readers are able to handle these elements effectively. AFB Press cannot be responsible for the limitations of specific devices.

ePublications Basics

What is the difference between an e-book and an online subscription to a book?

e-book is a publication that can be downloaded in the form of one or more electronic files onto your personal e-reading device or your computer. An online subscription is a publication in electronic form that is stored in the cloud and can be read with any Internet browser. An online subscription, sometimes called an online rental, is accessed through your personalized bookshelf in the AFB Press online store. Subscriptions provide access to a publication for one year and are offered at a discounted price from the print book.

What is an online bookshelf, and how do I access it?

An online bookshelf is a personalized area within AFB Press’s online store. Your personalized bookshelf contains all the electronic publications that you have purchased and to which you have subscribed. Once you complete your initial purchase, you are able to set up your bookshelf easily. You can then log on to your online bookshelf at loginform. AFB Press Customer Service at is available to help if you need assistance.

ASCII Definitions

What is an ASCII download?

ASCII is a plain-text electronic format that can be converted to braille or read using screen-reading software. AFB ASCII files are text-only books that contain narrative descriptions of tables, figures, and photos. ASCII files for all the chapters in a book are zipped together for easy one-step downloading to your device or computer.

How do I unzip the file for an ASCII download that I purchased?

If you do not have software already installed on your computer to unzip a compressed file, you can download the software for free at for PC or for MAC. Once software is installed, right-click (or press shift-F10) on the file and follow the directions.


Which book formats are accessible?

All AFB Press ePublications are designed to be accessible, and all contain narrative descriptions of tables and figures, as well as alt tags of photos that can be read when using a screen reader. ASCII books contain text only and can be read on any accessible device that reads text. Online subscriptions to books are read in an Internet browser, so they are accessible using whatever device and software, such as a screen reader, you may use to access the Internet. The accessibility of e-books depends on the device or software program used to read them. AFB Press e-books in the ePUB format can be read on Apple iOS devices (such as the iPad, iTouch, or iPhone) using Apple’s built-in VoiceOver screen reader. However, although the links leading to the narrative descriptions (and back to the text) and links to websites function properly in these books, VoiceOver is currently not able to activate links to other sections within a book, a software issue that we hope will be rectified soon. The Victor Reader Stream with a SoftPak update is also able to access ePUB files.

e-Book Overview

Which version of an e-book should I buy?

Buy the format that works with your e-reading device or program. The ePUB file format is used by almost all e-readers, including Apple iOS devices (such as the iPad, iTouch, or iPhone), the Nook, the Sony Reader, Kobo readers, and others. It can also be read by a Victor Reader Stream with a SoftPak update and by Adobe Digital Editions software on a PC. Kindle devices require the Mobi file format; they cannot read the ePUB format. Mobi can also be read by Kindle for PC software.

How do I find my e-book on my computer after I’ve downloaded it?

Plan ahead to decide where you want to store your e-book on your computer. When you click on the link in your AFB Press library shelf to download your e-book, a dialog box will open, asking you if you want to save the e-book file. Next to the Save button may be an arrow. When you select that arrow, one of the options will be Save As. Clicking the Save As link will open a window that allows you to browse through your computer folders and select the folder in which you wish to save your e-book.

If you have downloaded your e-book without choosing where to store it, you can find the folder where your computer saves downloads by doing a search or find in your computer’s file management system and typing in the name of the book.

How do I load my e-book into my e-reader?

After you have downloaded your e-book to your computer or the device you are using to browse the Internet, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your e-reader to load the e-book file into the device. Here are some hints:

  • Adobe Digital Editions is used to manage e-book files on a home computer for many e-book readers that use ePUB files. (You can download this free software from Follow the directions on the website to create an I.D.)
    • In the Library tab of Adobe Digital Editions, click on Add Item to Library.
    • Find the file in your computer and double click on it to add it to the Adobe Digital Editions Library.
    • Connect your device to your computer with a USB cable provided with the device. Follow directions to authorize your device if it is not already connected to your account. Your e-reader will then appear in the menu on the left side of the screen in the Library view.
    • You can now drag a book from your Library list to the e-reader icon on the menu to load the book into the device.
  • You can also use your computer’s File menu to copy a book file directly into the documents folder or other appropriate area of your device (known as “sideloading”), once the e-reader is connected to your computer with a USB cable.
  • For an Apple Device, such as an iPad or iPhone, you must use Apples iTunes program to load your e-book into your device. First, import the book file into your iTunes Library. From the File menu, select Add File to Library, then find the file in your computer and double click on it to add it to your iTunes Library. Then connect your device to your computer with a USB cable provided with the device. Open the Books folder in iTunes. Drag your new e-book to the Books folder in your device, shown on the menu on the left side of your screen.

If you have additional questions about importing files into your e-book reader, consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

Can I read an e-book on my PC?

Yes! Free software programs such as Adobe Digital Editions or Kindle for PC are available for download on the Internet to read e-books on your computer.

How do I read tables and view figures on my e-reader?

AFB Press has optimized the appearance of tables and figures in its e-books, but the ability to read tables or view detailed figures depends mainly on the capabilities of your e-reader and the size of its screen. Here are some suggestions:

  • Change the font size: Make it larger to read a table more easily; make it smaller so the entire table fits on the page.
  • Change the orientation of the screen to horizontal, if your e-reading device has that feature, so the table or figure will be wider.
  • Pan across a table if all the columns don’t fit on the screen at one time.
  • If you are reading on a PC, make the reading panel larger.
  • Use your device’s zoom feature, if it has one, to enlarge an image or table. If you are reading visually on an Apple iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone, tapping twice on a table or image will bring it up in its own separate view. You can then use two fingers on the screen in a spreading motion to enlarge the item.

All tables and figures in AFB Press books have narrative descriptions that appear at the end of the book and can be accessed by clicking or tapping on the “Description link” if your device has that capability. Anyone can use the description to access the content of a table or figure.

If you have additional questions, please contact AFB Press Customer Service at