Is VitalSource Legit?
VitalSource provides eTextbooks to over 7,000 institutions and over 15 million users. They work with over 1,000 educational content providers to create interactive learning experiences to students. On VitalSource’s bookshelf, there are over 40,000 eTextbooks in medicine alone – that’s a lot of ground to cover.
On the digital highway, there are always speed bumps along the way. To address glitches and software issues, VitalSource provides updates and fixes – the most recent were updated versions in the summer of 2018 for MacOS, Windows and iOS. Users have to make sure their devices are compatible with the latest software updates.
VitalSource has to comply with the DRM (Digital Rights Management) policies of each of the 1,000 textbook publishers as well as with wishes of the textbook authors. These DRM policies are there to protect copyrighted content and may prevent unauthorized copying, printing, sharing and PDF conversions. It’s totally possible that the acclaimed theoretical and mathematical physicist, Professor Edward Witten told his publisher that he wants to limit access to his work on mathematics, physics, string and M-theory, especially to Sheldon Cooper. Who could blame him? By the way, don’t you think Witten kinda resembles another brilliant mind, Steve Jobs?
Yes, in a nutshell, VitalSource is legit. Technology is never static. VitalSource has to keep up with the changes that their partners present – whether in hardware or software updates (PC, Mac, iOS, or Android), and in the old-school world of textbook writing. Thus far, real humans are writing content and managing systems – though the world of artificial intelligence could be knocking on our doors in the near future!
VitalSource Ease of Use and Features
VitalSource is user-friendly and provides cool tools for the college-bound student. Check out why Comparakeet ranks them as one of the best college book rental sites:
- Search bar – easily search for a book by its title, author, or ISBN
- Categories – 52 subject categories including the most popular business and economics (over 81,000 titles) as well as the less familiar like pets and true crime
- Pricing – when you click on the textbook, rental and purchase rates pop up with the duration period. The Biochemistry textbook by Garrett shows 4 rental rates – the cheapest at $40.64 for a 120 day rental, $46.49 for a 180 day rental, $63.99 for a 1 year rental and $149.99 for a lifetime access.
Sample pricing and rental period for Biochemistry eTextbook
- Device compatibility – VitalSource is compatible with Mac, PC, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Chromebook. Access is capped at 2 computers and 2 mobile devices on the Bookshelf app.
- Bookmarking – you can bookmark pages to continue where you left off and highlight important sections for easier reference.
- File format – eTextbooks can be either an EPUB or a PDF file format. EPUB is more adaptable when it comes to font size and responds accordingly when zoomed in regardless of the screen size. PDF format is like a scanned copy of the book- the font size is fixed and the page fits into the screen size.
- Copy, paste and printing functions – the restrictions vary depending on the publisher and title.
- Media-enhanced material – some eTextbooks include embedded videos, slideshow, animation and links to external references.
- User access by country – VitalSource only allows users from the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa to rent books from their website.
14-day Return Policy
VitalSource has a 14-day return policy – if you’re not sure the contents of the book are relevant to your lesson. There are a few conditions for this request:
- You haven’t viewed or printed more than 20% of the book
- Any access code for online resources that came with the purchase remain unused
- If you have requested and received a refund for a specific book and purchased the very same book later on, you will not be eligible for another refund for that book
Also, do keep in mind that some exclusions may apply regarding the return policy – it might be worth it to check out the policies of specific publishers. For example, Penguin Random House will allow you to cancel a purchase and request a refund within 7 days of your initial purchase, provided you have not viewed or printed the book.
VitalSource is committed to providing services to users with visual, hearing and mobility impairments. If a student has a request for a particular book to be enhanced for accessibility, they can fill out a form in which VitalSource can forward the request to the publisher.
Using Bookshelf’s Read Aloud feature has text to speech built-in, listen and follow along as Bookshelf reads to you, and using your VoiceOver’s built-in voice and speech controls. And you can toggle the Read Alt Text switch to have read any descriptions the publishers include with pictures, figures and diagrams – though not all publishers have this feature.
VitalSource Customer Service
VitalSource provides support that pretty much covers all the bases:
- Phone and email support 24/7 for the United States, UK and Australia
- FAQ section
- Return and refund policy section
- Product support based on supported devices
- Video tutorials
- Social media- Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
What's the Verdict on VitalSource?
VitalSource Review 2018 – Conclusion
VitalSource provides a convenient and hassle-free alternative to buying physical textbooks. Staying within budget for any college student is a priority and textbooks take a big bite out your savings. Some statistics estimate that about $1200 per year is the norm. Ouch.
With over 50 textbook categories and hundreds of thousand of titles, VitalSource gives students a choice of how and when to read (on a smartphone or tablet and in a coffee shop or subway) – no internet connection needed! Choose to own forever or rent for a semester at a fraction of the cost of a hardcover book.
VitalSource’s development and management team is innovative and always moving forward. With their eye on the future, they acquired Acrobatiq, a company with a platform to create and deliver content that adapts to the learner, harnessing data science and artificial intelligence.
You can’t go wrong with VitalSource for your eTextbook needs. Save your money for other stuff. Save the environment by going green and let a tree live for another decade! VitalSource is our pick for one of the best college book rental sites!