Social Science: Books and Ebooks

While some books continue to be published on paper, an increasing number of books are also available electronically. In the social sciences, older books in the print format continue to be necessary for research. Even very old books are increasingly available in digitized format making access easier for many researchers.

Types of Books

Beyond monographs, anthologies, and conference proceedings, there are other types of books specific to the social sciences.

Law Books

A law book is a book containing legal opinions, case law, or government regulations.

Electronic Books

When providing information sources to those with interests in social science, it's important to consider their format preferences. While it can be useful to read professional literature on the topic of e-books, it's equally important to remember that e-book use is changing rapidly. Rather than relying on older studies, use their approach to research design to help in planning your own local studies to determine user interests and needs.

Read E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps from PewInternet. This research is now more than a year old. Based on the data presented, can you predict the future of e-book use?

try itTry It!
Read articles about e-book usage and preferences. How has the use of e-books changed nationwide during this time? What are the implications for these two studies? If you were conducting a study, what aspects do you think have changed over the last few years? What's likely to change in the near future?

Read Corlett-Rivera, Kelsey & Hackman, Timothy (April 2014). E-book use and attitudes in the humanities, social sciences, and education. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 14(2), 255-286.

Government Ebooks

The U.S. Government Bookstore provides access to books for download and purchase. Although there’s a charge for print publications, there are many ebooks that can be downloaded for free or at a low cost at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ebooks.

The College Preparation Checklist is a free ebook exploring ways that youth can prepare for college.

For librarians and students seeking ebooks specifically, include the term “ebook” in the search of the Catalog of U.S. Publications. The ebooks can be downloaded free of charge on various ebook reading devices. Most books can be downloaded in the ePUB, MOBI for Kindle, PDF, or iBook format.

Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives is a book focusing on the history of baseball. The highly visual ebook incorporates a wide range of primary source documents such as patents, photos, letters, certificates, and report that bring history alive. This ebook provides an excellent tool for collecting primary source documents to an interesting theme.

Crime Scene Investigation from the National Forensic Science Technology Center provides the technical specifications that serious teen researchers are seeking. This easy-to-follow guide is the same one used by law enforcement agencies.

Government publications are a great source of ebooks. Examples include

The National Archives ebooks page provides access to books and exhibit guides. For instance, What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? is an interactive ebook with video, audio, and additional content.

IIP ebooks are designed for an international audience, but contain information such as foreign policy, society, values topics of interest to students. For instance, Stories of African-American Achievement is a collection profiles remarkable Americans.

Many other agencies have ebooks as part of their publications. Do a Google search for the agency's name and publications such as NASA publications.

Scenario Stumper
I'm concerned about what might happen if we are contacted by extraterrestrial beings. How will people react? Is NASA doing an research in this area?
NASA has an extenstive database of books and reports on their operations. Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication by Douglas A. Vakoch was published in 2014. This eBook focuses specifically on this type of communication. This book was located using ebooks in the Catalog of U.S. Publications. However, you can also go directly to NASA to explore their publications.
The Bottom Line... Yes! NASA is working on this. You can download and read the book for free.

try itTry It!
Browse the books available through the U.S. Government Bookstore. Also, explore ebooks in the Catalog of U.S. Publications. Try some other government websites. Are ebooks common or uncommon? Can you see any trends?

Subscription Databases

ACLS Humanities E-Book. A collaboration of eight learned societies, nearly 75 contributing publishers, and librarians at the University of Michigan's Scholarly Publishing Office. Titles can be browsed by Subject. Fields currently covered include Area and Historical Studies in the following: African, American, Asian, Australasian/Oceanian, Byzantine, Canadian, Caribbean, Central European, Comparative/World, Eastern European/Russian, Economic, Environmental, European, Jewish Studies, Latin American, Law, LGBT/Queer Studies, Medicine, Methods/Theory, Middle East, Native Peoples of the Americas, Science/Technology, Women’s Studies. HEB also encompasses the fields of Archaeology, Art and Architectural History, Biblical Studies, Bibliographic Studies, Film and Media Studies, Folklore, Linguistics, Literature, Literary Criticism, Musicology, Performance Studies (theater, music, dance), Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, and Sociology. Available through IUPUI. 

Brill Humanities and Social Sciences E-Books. Collections for the years 2007-2013: Asian StudiesBiblical Studies, Ancient Near East and Early Christianity Classical Studies European History and Culture Middle East and Islamic Studies Religious Studies, Theology and Philosophy Social Sciences. Oncampus-only access through IUPUI. 

Project Muse from Johns Hopkins University Press. Provides books in some areas. It's not a huge collection, but it's worth exploring. Available through IUPUI.

try itTry It!
Go to ACLS Humanities E-Book collection. Choose BROWSE and choose SUBJECT from the left navigation bar. Seek out a work in a very specialized area. Then, do a Wikipedia search on the same topic. How is the level of depth in the book different than what can be found in an encyclopedia?

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