VitalSource Review – Saving More On E-Books

Being a student is a serious business. With increasing job competition, learning as much as possible at university is a priority. For a number of students, all recommended literature is a must. This was also my case. But finding all the books my professors recommend proves a bit difficult.

At the time, these books are not available at the library. They might be at one of my colleagues already. However, many good books are not in the library at all. Still, my professors insist they add value to my knowledge and the weight of my degree.


I proceeded to look for the best sources to get these books. Most were expensive and they didn’t offer all the books I wanted. Instead of reading and learning, I was chasing these books from one library to another.

VitalSource is the place I found most books at. The website runs an online book library. Even the payment methods were budget-friendly. You have the option of buying and downloading an e-book as you have an option to rent a book out electronically for a few months at a lower cost.

Vitalsource Features

  • Instant access to thousands of books.
  • Option to rent or buy at different prices.
  • Built-in highlight study tool.
  • Read aloud function.
  • Notes function.
  • Integrated Wikipedia search tool.

Saves Money

One of the most convenient aspects of using the website is having the ability to save on textbooks. Students are not known for having large budgets for books and the website offers a budget-friendly option to keep studying


I paid $100 for 4 books I rented in the business economics department. I didn’t need the longest loan period as I read the books as soon as I got my hands on them.

If you want to save more, you need to be able to prioritize your reading. Simply renting the books and then not reading them equals money wasting. As a result, it may take some time for the books to be read all together.


One of my fellow students uses another savings method. He only takes one book out at a time. This way, he says he’s not wasting money with books lined-up to be rea. I think it’s a personal choice. But good students need to have a reading strategy.

You may also save on titles by only reading certain chapters of a book. For example, I like to check the book’s summary and check its relevancy to my topics. If you’re not interested in reading the entire book, Simply renting it out for 90 days can be a better option for your wallet.

Saves the Environment

Printing thousands of books every year is not the best for the environment. Students from across the world need to get their hands on their study books but choosing e-books as an alternative reduces their impact.

Some books are printed again in new releases with little added information to them. As a result, most people would benefit if more books were not printed and only read electronically.


This approach turns the website into an important resource in the world of academics. There are thousands of interesting books to read and they don’t offer anything less than a classic printed book.

Every year, CO2 emissions are diminished due to readers choosing the e-book route. In 2012 alone, e-books prevented 5.2 billion kg of CO2 emissions. By not printing the books they need, students make their positive impact on the world.

Of course, not everybody likes e-books. A couple of my fellow students don’t like them at all. They say they learn better from printed books. But at the same time, I think their weakening vision doesn’t help their long hours of study either.

Study Tools

Reading an e-book is a bit different. You don’t have the same tools such as markers and highlighters in your hand to mark the text which is most relevant. However, virtual markers are available to highlight the text.

These marks remain with your book until your rent time expires. If you purchase your e-book, you will not have to worry about it. All the marks are going to be there whenever you come back to your book.


Taking notes is also important. But on some of my business books, I add recommended reading notes. Nearly every page of my current study book has these notes. On this website, you can add virtual notes anywhere in the text.

A tip of mine is to add a few quick notes on further reading and further researching a certain topic. By my experience, when you finish reading the book, it might be too late to remember your intentions for further research. Simply put, I forget the main ideas I wanted to research next.

This is why adding these notes as you read is the best option. However, there should be a search function for the reading notes along. At the moment, such a function is yet to be implemented.

Online Search Tool

Another interesting tool these e-bools come with is Wikipedia referencing. Certain words, phrases, events or people can be searched for automatically on Wikipedia with one click.


I find it a feature which saves considerable time. For me, going online and typing hundreds of such names or events to get up to date with takes up too much time. My studying efforts can suffer as well. Many times, I lose track of my intentions when opening up a browser as I lose time on social media. This tool skips this manual input step.

But for others, the search function plays a vital role in filling in knowledge gaps. It may take some time to make up lost ground if you haven’t been studying properly during your university year. Some terms and theories are already presented as known in most books and you might need to look them up to understand what the authors are trying to say.


  • ISBN search function.
  • Lifetime access with a full purchase.
  • Integrated social media text quote functions.


  • ePub format only.

Final Verdict

The books on this website tackle major fields of study. From architecture and business to sports and political science, there are hundreds of thousands of books to read.

In my opinion, students visit the website for one field alone. I think it’s only those who are reading the books from their own initiative that find titles in various fields of study.

But you will find most books you need in a certain subject on the website. Their library is increasing every day. Even titles published 2-3 decades ago are available online. You won’t be able to print out most of these.

There’s an individual license system in every book. This means print exceptions might apply. But from my experience, you’ll mostly be allowed to print older books. You can’t simply copy and paste the text as this function is locked in most books.

However, printing books would be against the purpose of the website. Its reduced environmental impact is based on students reading e-books. The format of these books is ePub, which is supported by most popular e-book readers. You can join the website and rent your first book to see how it looks and if you can study with e-books instead of printed books yourself.


Official Top 5 Review Team
Official Top 5 Review Team

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