UK's largest e-Textbook programme launched

Plymouth University is working with a leading global digital textbook provider on a pioneering initiative to make eTextbooks available to a large number of its students.

Launched this month, the partnership between the University and Vital Source Technologies, Inc. will see more than 30,000 eTextbooks made available to students.

The textbooks are accessible to all, including those with print-related disabilities and students will be able to access the textbooks directly through the University’s Digital Learning Environment.

It is the latest development for the eBooks programme, which was initially launched in 2011 as a pilot in the School of Psychology. It has since been broadened out across the University and, in 2013, won the Teaching Excellence category at the inaugural Guardian University Awards.

Dr Phil Gee, manager of the Plymouth eBooks Project, said:

“This initiative is driven by a determination to ensure that no student is disadvantaged in terms of learning. Providing personal electronic copies of core texts significantly cuts the cost of university, and gives all an equal opportunity to succeed.  We are immensely proud that Plymouth is pioneering this very practical way of supporting students, and it delivers on our strategy to enrich what we do through appropriate use of digital technology.”

Through the partnership, VitalSource – part of the US-based Ingram Content Group – is providing eTextbooks from more than 16 publishers to students in programmes in science and technology, business, arts and humanities, medicine and health and human sciences.

Almost half of the materials will be available in reflowable xml and ePub formats – to provide rich, robust interactive content that goes beyond existing “paper under glass” offerings – and the textbooks can be used online or downloaded onto the students’ preferred devices including smartphones, tablets and web-enabled eReaders such as Kindle Fire. 

Widespread access to required learning materials will allow the University to make full use of the suite of learning tools built into VitalSource Bookshelf.

William Chesser, Vice President of Business Development and Global Markets at Vital Source Technologies, Inc., said: 

“VitalSource was founded on the principal of expanding access to higher education by offering students significant savings on their required course materials, and as the cost of earning a degree continues to rise, it is essential that students have digital options. We are proud to work with Plymouth University to facilitate the most significant digital implementation ever undertaken in the UK, and we are confident that students and the University will benefit from the convenience and cost-savings of digital content.”

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