PDF, the Preferred Digital Format for Ebooks

As we purchase digital textbooks and content, one opportunity for improvement that we hear about is the format of the content. Users tend to want the content in true PDF form so that it is easier to find assigned readings and to match cited pages within a source.

It is common for professors to assign readings based on pagination in the print textbook, but the pages don’t always match the pagination in the digital version.

This post provides examples of what the user finds in some of the more common ebook platforms used for textbooks and study aids in academic law libraries.

Aspen Learning Library

With Aspen textbooks and study aids made available via the Aspen Learning Library platform, there are no page numbers listed in the Table of Contents:

If we want to read page 18 in Contracts: Examples & Explanations, here’s the print image:

The digital image has the print page numbers bolded throughout the body of the text:

Carolina Academic Press via OverDrive

Carolina Academic Press digital textbooks and study aids are accessible via the OverDrive platform. The Table of Contents does not list the page numbers.

If we are looking for page 87 in the print book, Disability Law: Cases, Materials, Problems, we see this:

In the digital version, there is a page navigator but the navigator does not match with the pagination in the print. In this image below, it shows page 87-88 in the navigator but the actual page as found in the print text is listed in brackets and the image below is page 29-30.

To find the actual page 87, you have to scroll through pages to find it in the brackets. Here it is on pages 151-152 of the navigator:

West Academic

With West Academic ebooks made available via the West Academic Online Study Aids platform, the page numbers are not listed in the Table of Contents.

If we’re looking for page 18 in the book, A Short & Happy Guide to the Law of Sales, we see this image in print:

Here is the image in digital format. The print page numbers are listed throughout the body of the text as indicated below:

ProQuest EBook Central

With Aspen textbooks made available via the ProQuest Ebook Central platform, the page numbers are listed in the Table of Contents so at least readers can get an idea of where to start. But the text is not a true PDF of the content.

Print image of p.381 of the book, Trial Techniques and Trials:

Digital image of page 381 in ProQuest: The page numbers are bolded in the digital text so the readers have an idea of where they are within the text.

All Ebsco Ebooks

With Aspen textbooks made available via the Ebsco platform, the page numbers are not listed when looking at the Table of Contents, so the reader has to guess where to start reading based on what the subject matter is. Like the ProQuest platform, the text is not a true PDF of the content, but it does contain page numbers bolded within the text.

The hyperlinked chapters in all platforms makes it easy to jump to the content but for assigned reading purposes, having page numbers that correlate with the print versions in the Table of Contents does help. We’ve suggested faculty include the titles of the book sections and subsections when assigning pages to read and we’ve suggested students use the publisher websites to find the Table of Contents for books so that they can identify sections and pages. Ideally, the digital books would be in true PDF format or include pagination for print and digital in the Table of Contents for the digital versions.



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