What’s new in ebooks: a platform roundup

It’s been a busy few months in terms of ebook platform refurbishments, so we thought it was time to pause and review some of the changes (and hopefully improvements) that have been implemented by providers.


ACLS launches new, improved platform

ACLS Humanities E-Book (HEB) is a US-based digital collection of over 5,400 seminal books in the humanities and related social sciences. Books in the HEB collection have been recommended and reviewed by scholars and constituent learned societies of the American Council of Learned Societies.

ACLS Humanities E-Book collection has been available to Cambridge users on a somewhat clunky, old-fashioned platform for some time, but is now accessible on a brand-new platform powered by Fulcrum, offering the following new features:

  • A more visually compelling and modern site, with a browsable catalogue that is easy to navigate.
  • ‘Read online’ format for all titles in a new e-reader that includes features like pageturner and scroll views, an always-present table of contents, and citation and search widgets. The reader also aims to meet WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility standards.
  • An enhanced e-book home page that provides quick access to the table of contents, reviews, metadata, and statistics, as well as easy access to the e-reader and chapter downloads. (Note that due to the large file size of chapter pdfs, we have found that chapter pdfs can be slower to download than on other ebook or ejournal platforms, and therefore ‘Read Online’ is recommended for rapid browsing or skimming the text).

Links for ACLS titles in iDiscover now redirect to the new platform, as does the platform link on our ebooks LibGuide.

ACLC Humanities is updated annually. Here is a list of the 259 new titles added in August: ACLC-new_titles_Aug_2018

Brill Online Books and Journals to move to Brill.com on November 30th

BrillcomBrill has been beavering away on Brill.com, a new platform to replace the existing Brill Online Books and Journals. All of our purchased content is being moved to the new site ready for November 30th, when the legacy site will be taken down, but the vast majority of our content is already there, so you can take a peek before November 30th if you wish.

According to Brill, the benefits of the move include:

  • The new platform consolidates information about print and online publications on one single page, rather than on separate sites, as before.
  • A fresh, crisp, uncluttered design.
  • The site works well on all types of devices.
  • DOI links will be available at the chapter level as well as the book title level.
  • Easier ebook ordering for site administrators.

We are assured that our ebook links in iDiscover will point to the new site from December, but please contact ebooks@cambridge or the UL’s English Collections team if you see anything that doesn’t work.

Manchester Medieval Sources Online now on Manchester Hive

MMSOThe 36 titles within the ‘Manchester Medieval Sources Online‘ collection from Manchester University Press are now available on Manchester Hive, MUP’s new online platform. The platform offers:

  • Easy browsing of available titles with abstracts.
  • Clear and intuitive design.
  • DRM-free PDF downloads for each chapter or section as well as full book downloads in either HTML or PDF.
  • Full book downloads include hyperlinks, making navigation through the text easier (from TOC to content and from content to footnotes).
  • Handy citation and sharing tools.

MARC records for all 36 titles within the collection are in iDiscover and now point to the new platform.

VLeBooks: new platform, more publishers, better accessibility


Not a platform redesign, but a brand new aggregator platform for us, VLeBooks offers a broader range of publishers (including trade publishers) and improved accessibility for print-disabled users. For more information, see our recent blogpost.

All of these platforms are available on and off-campus to members of the University via our ebooks LibGuide or via links to individual books in iDiscover. Off-campus access is via Raven (VLeBooks requires a Raven login on and off campus).

As usual, please contact ebooks@lib.cam.ac.uk if you have any questions about these platforms or any other aspect of ebook provision at the University.


ACLS Humanities Ebook now offering PDF chapter downloads

The ACLS Humanities Ebook platform is now offering DRM-free PDF chapter downloads for its page image titles (that’s those titles – the majority – that display the icon-book icon). This is a significant platform enhancement, greatly simplifying use of the content.

How does it work?

From the TOC page, click on a chapter heading to get into the title. Once in the e-book, you will see three buttons in the top left corner of the e-reader. Click on the button labeled “Chapter PDF”:

ACLS chapter download button


and then the “Download this chapter as PDF” link:

ACLS download link

Depending on your browser settings, the PDF will either open in a new browser tab or download directly to a PDF reader such as Adobe Reader. If the PDF opens in your browser and you wish to open it in a reader, hover your cursor over the centre-bottom of the screen and click the download button that appears:

ACLS download button

Tell me more about the ACLS Humanities Ebook platform

ACLS Humanities E-Book (HEB) is an online collection of around 5,000 books of high quality in the humanities. These titles are offered by the American Council of Learned Societies in collaboration with thirty-one learned societies, over 100 contributing publishers, and the Michigan Publishing division at the University of Michigan Library. The goals of this collaboration are to assist scholars in the electronic publication of high-quality works in the humanities, to explore the intellectual possibilities of new media, and to help assure the continued viability of scholarship in today’s changing publishing environment. The result is an online, fully searchable collection of high-quality books in the humanities, recommended and reviewed by scholars.

The ACLS Humanities E-Book platform is available on and off-campus to members of the University. The platform does not currently work with EZProxy, so off-campus users will need to click on the ‘Login for Full access’ buttons that display on book title pages, select University of Cambridge as your institution, then enter your Raven username and password.

Please contact ebooks@lib.cam.ac.uk with any questions about this platform.

New titles available from ACLS Humanities ebooks

As of August this year, there are 154 new titles available on the ACLS Humanities ebooks platform, including titles from new publishers like The Ohio State University Press & Bucknell University Press, and expanding subject areas in Islamic Studies, Gender, Race, Architecture and more.

Here is a selection of the new titles – click on the covers to access them (a complete list of the new titles can be downloaded to Excel here: HEB2017_TitleRelease):

Stalinism  Without lying down  Ghetto  Beyond  Fixing men  whitewashing  heirs  Dust bowl Dragon   Literature  Rap   Nuns

Records for the new titles are not yet available in iDiscover, but will be added in January. Meanwhile, members of the University can access all new and existing titles on and off-campus via the ACLS Humanities ebooks platform. NB For off-campus access, you will need to click on the ‘Login for Full access’ buttons that display on book title pages, select University of Cambridge as your institution, then enter your Raven username and password.

As usual, please contact ebooks@lib.cam.ac.uk for further assistance.