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Innovation: Comparing eBook Interfaces

This guide helps VDOT employees explore books (both "printed books and eBooks) related to innovation.

Understanding eBook Lending Platforms (They're All Different!)

The VDOT Library provides access to eBooks from five databases, but this guide will only focus on the top two: Skillsoft Books and EBSCO eBooks.

eBooks at VDOT may be accessible in three file formats (PDF, EPUB and HTML). All can be viewed "on screen" (from an Internet-connected desktop, laptop or tablet). For some, a "portion" (a chapter or range of pages) can be downloaded to a device, but not the entire book.

For some, the entire book can be downloaded and transferred to portable eBook reading devices (like a Nook or a Kindle) but that process is complex and requires many extra steps. It also requires the user to own an eBook reader, requires the software Adobe Digital Editions (and a free Adobe ID), so this guide will only discuss "on screen" reading or "portion" downloads.

Understanding eBook Formats

eBooks at VDOT may be accessible in three file formats (HTML, PDF, and EPUB). All can be viewed "on screen" (from an Internet-connected desktop, laptop or tablet). For some, a "portion" (a chapter or range of pages) can also be downloaded, but not the entire book. What the publisher allows will vary book-by-book. Since most eBooks listed on this guide come from either the Skillsoft Books or EBSCO eBooks platforms, we'll explore those interfaces in detail. 

Skillsoft Books (HTML only)
All eBook content in Skillsoft Books is designed to be viewed on screen in html format as "a Web page."  Since there are no alternative formats (like PDF) no reference is made to file format or format options. To start reading, when viewing a book in the "Brief Record" format, click the "Launch" button to launch the integrated eBook viewer:

Screen capture showing the Skillsoft Books Brief record view

The "Full Record" view of the same eBook displays a linked Table of Contents. So in addition to the "Launch" button a user can also select a chapter or sub-chapter section from the Table of Contents, as shown below, to start reading the book:

Screen capture showing a Skillsoft Books Full record.

EBSCO eBooks (PDF or EPUB only)
Brief Record View: Displays the book's full text "on screen" for immediate reading (as shown below). Viewing options may include either PDF or EPUB formats (or in some cases both formats), which will appear as on screen options. Both PDF and EPUB are easy to view onscreen but EPUB is easier to use for large reading with oversize fonts.

Screen capture showing the EBSCO ebook brief record view.
The "Table of Contents" and "Most Relevant Pages" links can help users find key concepts within an eBook more quickly.

NOTE: The "Full Download" option is not recommended for most patrons, since it has few advantages over "on screen" viewing. However, it is an option for patrons who want to download the eBook to their computer and/or a portable eBook reader for offline viewing.

Full Record View: Shows the same options as the Brief Record view, only in this view those options will appear on the far left side of the screen, as seen in the image to the right. 
Screen capture showing EBSCO ebook full record view

Full Downloads for Offline Reading & eBook Readers

Skillsoft Books has no option to download eBook content for offline viewing. EBSCO eBooks does allow users to check out/full download some (but not all) eBooks. Those eBooks can 1.) Be read it on your computer when you are not connected to the Internet, or; 2.) Be transferred from your computer to a portable eBook reading device (like a Nook or a Kindle).

The process requires Adobe Digital Editions software to be installed on a VDOT computer by VITA (something you can do at home for a personal device). In addition, the user must get an Adobe ID, and an EBSCO eBooks account (all three are free). Due to these extra steps with few benefits, we recommend VDOT users stick to "on screen viewing" and if you want the full book use this Interlibrary Loan request form to request a printed copy. 

Intrepid VDOT employees who want to download EBSCO eBooks for offline use can consult these directions:

Questions? Contact:

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