Surpass News

E-Books and Audiobooks in Surpass

Surpass makes it easy to bring e-books and audiobooks into your library collection and easy for your patrons to discover e-books along with print and other materials. It's a little different for each e-book vendor but here are the basics:

Circulation Category for E-Books

Create one or more circulation categories for your e-books, audiobooks, and other digital media, making sure to tick the "electronic access" option so that Surpass knows these are digital and not physical items.

Surpass comes with several category icons for e-books, including some popular e-book vendor logos. Use one of these (or add your own) so that patrons can clearly identify digital media titles.

MARC Records

E-book vendors will supply you with MARC records for the titles you purchase. You import these into Surpass just as you would physical books and assign them to your e-book category. You will usually want to turn off matching so that all the new titles have new MARC records and are not attached to any print copies you might have.

The MARC records from e-book vendors contain web links that Safari recognizes and uses to give your patrons access to the e-books.

Patron Authentication

The e-book service needs to authenticate that the person requesting an e-book title belongs to your library and is in good standing. There are two ways to do this:

  • Patron export file
    You use Surpass to create a patron export file and import this into your e-book vendor's site. This file allows your e-book vendor to validate the ID and password (if required) of patrons accessing e-book titles.
  • Surpass SIP Server
    Instead of your sending patron export files to your e-book vendor, each time a patron requests an e-book title, the system checks your Surpass database to validate the patron's login and makes sure the patron is in good standing (active, not too many overdues, fines, etc.).

Using Surpass SIP Server for patron authentication is ideal. You do not need to do anything other than purchase and install the software and the patron information is always up-to-date, including real-time information on fines and overdues. It is supported by OverDrive, MackinVIA, Axis 360, and other major e-book vendors, though not currently by Follett Shelf.

Searching for E-Books in Safari

Patrons searching for materials in Safari will get e-book results right along with print titles and other items in your library. They do not need to go to a special site to search for e-books. Of course, they can limit their search to e-books if that's what they want.

E-book titles appear with an "Access E-Book" link on results lists and details pages. Clicking this link will take the patron directly to that title in the e-book vendor's system where the title can be checked out or placed on hold. The patron may be asked to supply his or her ID and password at this point.

The way that the patron actually accesses the e-book varies by e-book vendor and device used. Most e-book vendors have special apps for tablets, e-readers and other devices. The patron can read the title online or have it sent to his or her device.

Other Digital Media Vendors

Some e-book and audiobook vendors do not yet provide a way for your patrons to use one search to search your entire library as described above. Instead, they require that patrons leave your main library catalog (Surpass Safari) and go to the vendor's site to do a separate search for digital media. We will continue to work with vendors to make the digital media experience as seamless as possible for your patrons. If your favorite digital media vendor doesn't support integration with the rest of your catalog, please let us know so we can prioritize our outreach.

Integrating E-Books with Surpass Video

To see it all in action and learn more about using digital media in your library, watch the video of the recent Integrating E-Books with Surpass webinar, available online.


We're here to help! If you're considering adding e-books to your library and want to learn more about how to bring it all together with your Surpass system, please just give us a call at +1(888)313-7678 or email

Return to list of news articles

Log In

Please enter your client ID and password to have full access to Surpass Support

Forgot your login?