STUDENT SUCCESS & The Best Way to Cite eBooks in APA Format

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/7/16.

Sometimes students wonder how to cite eBooks (such as Kindle) correctly in APA format. You can find the answer to most APA questions quickly by checking Purdue’s “OWL” (Online Writing Lab), just CLICK on …

  • COURSE DASHBOARD (in the left menu on Learning Studio)
    • IWU RESOURCES (in the left menu again)
      • Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) – Considered to be one of the best writing centers available and used at many universities. (under APA RESOURCES)

Here is link to the OWL site with the answer: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/  And here is what is says:

Electronic Books

Electronic books may include books found on personal websites, databases, or even in audio form. Use the following format if the book you are using is only provided in a digital format or is difficult to find in print. If the work is not directly available online or must be purchased, use “Available from,” rather than “Retrieved from,” and point readers to where they can find it. For books available in print form and electronic form, include the publish date in parentheses after the author’s name. For references to e-book editions, be sure to include the type and version of e-book you are referencing (e.g., “[Kindle DX version]”). If DOIs are available, provide them at the end of the reference.

De Huff, E. W. (n.d.). Taytay’s tales: Traditional Pueblo  Indian tales. Retrieved from  http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/dehuff/taytay/taytay.html

Davis, J. (n.d.). Familiar birdsongs of the Northwest.  Available from http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio? inkey=1-9780931686108-0

Kindle Books

To cite Kindle (or other e-book formats) you must include the following information: The author, date of publication, title, e-book version, and either the Digital Object Identifer (DOI) number, or the place where you downloaded the book. Please note that the DOI/place of download is used in-place of publisher information. Here’s an example:

Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from amazon.com

But, make this one change

From the above citation process you don’t know if the book is a “juried” resource (e.g. has an editorial board, or jury, of scholars that is testifying the material is reliable and valid).  And, in scholarly work (e.g. graduate school, seminaries) you should be using mostly juried sources.  Thus, there is a problem for a couple reasons:

  1. Kindle is not a “juried” publisher.  It takes what all publishers print and converts books to electronic forms, so you do not know if the citation is “juried” by scholars in the field.  And, you won’t know unless you check the printed books publisher.
  2. The Chicago Style Manual (an alternative to APA) solves this by requiring the “City: Publisher, Date” to be included.  See these examples:

Lemon, Rebecca, Emma Mason, Johnathan Roberts, and Christopher Rowland, ed. The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. PDF e-book.

Thrall, Grant Ian. Land Use and Urban Form. New York: Methuen, 1987. http://www.rri.wvu.edu/WebBook/Thrallbook/Land%20Use%20and%20Urban%20Form.pdf.

Therefore in (research-based) courses, such as seminary courses I teach in the MA, MDiv and DMin degree programs:

ADD the “City: Publisher, Date.” information before “Retrieved from …” or “Available From…”

Here are the above APA citations with this addition (in red for emphasis only):

De Huff, E. W. (n.d.). Taytay’s tales: Traditional Pueblo  Indian tales. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922. Retrieved from  http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/dehuff/taytay/taytay.html

Davis, J. (n.d.). Familiar birdsongs of the Northwest.  Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 2006. Available from http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio? inkey=1-9780931686108-0

Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula [Kindle DX version]. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000. Retrieved from amazon.com

(Remember additions in red are for illustration only – do not use red.)

This short little addition will help you confirm that your eBook citation is “juried” and thus an reliable source for your seminary/graduate school education.