Take Your Textbooks Mobile
Looking for ways to lug that stack of veterinary texts around that doesn’t involve your 7th grade Jansport backpack? VMD Technology is here to guide you on your eBook options.
I’ll admit that as techy as I am, I still cling to traditional paper when it comes to some of my reading (journals, textbook chapters, magazines). Even so, I value the convenience of having my medical texts with me at all times.
There are now numerous options out there to allow you to carry your medical references digitally. The major benefit is clear: the references will always be with you for use on the run. But it’s hard to ignore some of the other enhancements: easy linking and searching for material, digital preservation, and availability on multiple devices.
Below are some of the top ways other techy veterinary professionals are toting their references.
Amazon Kindle Reading App
Amazon.com is arguably the most extensive online bookstore. Naturally, their Kindle service leverages Amazon’s impressive digital textbook library. You don’t need to own a Kindle tablet to use their library and once you set up your Kindle app (on any device), you can easily import any book you already own in digital format.
The Amazon Kindle Reading App allows you to buy eBooks and keep them in sync across all of your devices. The app is intuitive to use, FREE, and gives you access to what is likely the biggest selection of veterinary texts around.
Textbooks through the Kindle App have the look and feel of a traditional textbook which is necessary when reading chapter to chapter. Many of the textbooks are enhanced with links that allow you to get to the information you need quickly.
With that said, using the textbooks through Kindle may not be the most mobile optimized way to have quick reference information at your fingertips. For example, the Plumb’s textbook does not have a home page that allows easy look up of drugs. Instead, you must scroll all the way to the end of the book where the index is or search for your keyword. It would make more sense to have the index up front for digital quick referencing.
The good news is that the Kindle Reading App is available on virtually all devices and there are ways to improve quick reference experience such as bookmarking pages and the ability to start where you left off across your devices.
A bonus for those of you in veterinary training: you can also rent certain textbooks using the Kindle app.
Apple iBooks & Google Play Books
Apple and Google have their own digital bookstores and if you are at all tied to either ecosystem (i.e. you have only Apple devices or prefer to use your Google account for purchases), these are worth considering. Google Play is essentially Google’s version of iTunes. It’s where you go to buy apps, movies, TV shows, books, and magazines if you use an Android device. Through this, Google has a growing library of competitively priced eBooks.
Apple’s iBooks has been touted as one of the more visually appealing platforms for e-reading. Here’s a more detailed look at how it compares to Kindle.
In most ways, both Google Play and Apple iBook services are very similar to Amazon Kindle. One major downside to Google Play is that unlike Kindle and iBooks, if you already own a book digitally (in PDF or ePub format), you cannot import these alongside your Google Play Books. And while Google Play is available for both Android and Apple devices, iBooks is limited to iOS devices.
Both Google and Apple’s textbook libraries are not as extensive as Kindle at time of press but they are certainly worth knowing about.
Readmill is a European app that is gaining steam as the most aesthetically pleasing way to browse books on a mobile device.
It is available for Android and Apple devices and lets you read and share books purchased in a variety of formats and from a variety of websites (such as iBooks and Kindle).
Skyscape is a company devoted to offering mobile medical references. In the past few years, it has become a leading spot to purchase veterinary textbooks in app format.
Skyscape sells medical references in unique ways by taking traditional textbooks and converting them into a quick-reference-optimized app format. So when you buy the 5-Minute Veterinary Consult, you are not getting the pages from the textbook like with Amazon Kindle. Instead, you get all the content but in a more accessible manner for your mobile device.
Skyscape has a section for veterinary books. Unfortunately, the selection is pretty small compared to offerings for physicians and nurses.
To get started, download the free Skyscape app for your Apple or Android device. Then navigate to the Skyscape website or within the app and search for your desired text.
The Skyscape textbooks are priced similarly to purchasing the hard copy if you want to own them outright. Alternatively you can pay a reduced fee to “rent” the app version of the book on an annual basis which includes free updates on new editions during your rental period.
Bonus: Skyscape also offers a variety of calculators and other tools, some of which are free for medical professionals of all types.
Kno Textbooks is a company started in 2009 with a plan to disrupt the textbook industry.
Their app offers an innovative way to view, highlight, and learn from textbooks by making them uniquely accessible. When you purchase a textbook through this platform (and they have many veterinary texts), you gain the ability to create flash cards, study guides, and many more functionalities. The company was recently acquired by Intel’s Education division so it is undergoing constant improvements.
Kno Textbooks can be accessed on virtually all devices including Apple, Android, and Windows mobile devices, as well as online via a web browser, and on both the PC and Mac.
In conclusion, if this is your first foray into eBooks, I recommend that you start with the Amazon Kindle App. Once you become familiar with the technology, try out Readmill, Skyscape, or iBooks and pick the one that fits your needs best.
Then report back to VMD Technology so the rest of the veterinary world can learn from your experience!
About the Author
Dr. Caleb Frankel is an ER veterinarian, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He currently divides his time between two roles: emergency veterinarian at VSEC, a 70-doctor referral hospital in Greater Philadelphia, PA (USA) and the founder of Instinct Science, a new animal health company helping the world’s state-of-the-art veterinary practices streamline their care through medically-driven invoicing and thoughtful automation.
He served as Director of New Product Development at Brief Media for 4 years where he lead the development and launch of products such as Plumb's Veterinary Drugs and New York Vet. Follow Dr. Frankel on Twitter @VMDtechnology.