E-books put to the test


ebookThe Library has been working with your Library Champions to assess our e-book provision.  We buy books from a range of different suppliers and regularly check in with students to find out:

  • which suppliers your prefer
  • which features you like or would like to see in the future,
  • to identify services where improvements need to be made
  • which features and services meet students current ways of working.

Your Library Champions recently attended some E-Book Focus groups where all the various suppliers were put to the test and where they also had the chance to feed in their view on e-books in general.  They provided some really insightful feedback and we are using that to guide our purchasing strategies.  So, for example,  where there is a choice of supplier we will opt for those that have been identified as the preferred option by students.

We tested two main categories of e-books:

1. E-book collections which come direct from the publishers.  These are usually DRM-free (Digital Rights Management -free) meaning the publisher does not impose any copyright limits and you can print/save/copy as much as you like.  Not every publisher offers this, and some will only offer packages of books rather than allowing you to select individual titles.  We have a range of materials available in this form, including large packages from CUP, Cambridge Books Online, and  OUP, Oxford Scholarship online,

2. E-books available via hosting services. These hosting services provide books across a wide range of publishers, many of whom do not offer their e-books in any other way.  Theses books are usually subject to some form of DRM (Digital Rights Management), which is a way of limiting printing and download to set limits agreed with the publisher.  So for example, you may be able to download a chapter or a set no. of pages only, not the whole book.   Our VLE and DawsonEra platforms emerged as preferred hosting services, based on the feedback from our Library Champions – do let us know if you agree or if you have other favoured services.

If you have feedback you would like to pass on to us about e-books in general or particular suppliers, just get in touch with the Library LiaisonTeam via  The more input you provide, the better we can frame our e-book purchasing to meet your needs, and the more feedback we can provide to our suppliers to address those areas where you’d like to see improvements.

Here are some of the key messages from the Focus Groups and we’ll be working on these with our suppliers.  If you have anything else to feed in, please do get in touch.

  • DRM free books are appreciated as the print/download limits can sometimes be frustrating.
  • You like e-books to appear on screen in a similar form to the printed item.
  • The citation features are really helpful – you can pull off the citation in the correct forms for your bibliographies and referencing.  Although it was interesting to note that some of you weren’t happy to trust that function and would always check you have the right format for your referencing!
  • You would appreciate help pages on e-books advising on DRM issues and different features such as notes, citations, export options etc.
  • You like a combination of print and e-books for core items, especially when items are not DRM free
  • The ability to use the search function to pinpoint quotes or subjects within e-books are a great timesaver
  • You like clear uncluttered interfaces rather than ‘overly flashy’ interfaces that just get in the way of the content you need to access
  • You would like simple feedback / report error options from within the e-book platform or library catalogue in order to quickly flag problems that you might encounter

And, lets end with some e-book stats which show how much some of our ebooks are being used currently.  You may be interested to know that

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