VitalSource Bookshelf App for iOS: Quick Start Guide

Original Author(s): Prashant Ranjan Verma

Bookshelf is a free app from VitalSource for reading eTextbooks downloaded from participating libraries. EPUB files obtained from other sources can also be side loaded in the Bookshelf app. A VitalSource Bookshelf account is required to use the app. A new account can be created quickly free of cost after installing the app.

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The Bookshelf iOS app can be installed on any iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch running iOS 7 and higher.

Bookshelf features allow:

  • Online and offline reading.
  • Searching inside current book or across full library
  • Creating notes or highlights
  • Tapping on figures, viewing captions and pinching to zoom
  • Syncing last page read and all notes and highlights between the iOS device and desktop or web-based Bookshelf apps.

To open EPUB files in Bookshelf app, first transfer the files to your iOS device using email, Dropbox or any other method. Then tap to open the EPUB file. You will get the message "this file type cannot be viewed". Now tap on "Share" button and then on "Open in". Choose Bookshelf from the list of available apps. The EPUB file will be added to the Bookshelf app library.

Bookshelf iOS app user interface overview

When the app is opened for the first time, the user is prompted to input the VitalSource account email ID and password. Henceforth when the app is opened, the user has access to the Library screen which lists all the books available for reading. The top toolbar has the "Main menu" button on the left, "Search" button on the right and "Library" and "Current book" buttons in the centre. Below this top toolbar there are controls to sort and filter the books available in the library. The bottom toolbar in the library view has the buttons to arrange the books in a grid or list.

When a book is opened for reading, the top toolbar remains same as described above. This allows quick access to the menu, library and search. The name of the current book is displayed just below this top toolbar.

When the book is opened, the bottom toolbar displays a number of buttons for navigation in the book. These include Go to Page, Figures panel, Table of Contents, Notebook, and More options button. A scroll bar for quickly moving forward or backward in the book is also available. The current page number is displayed in the bottom-middle of the screen.

The top and bottom toolbar can be hidden or shown on the screen during book reading with a single tap on the screen.

Accessibility tips

The Bookshelf app supports all the common touch gestures and works like any other standard app. This app is also very accessible with the VoiceOver screen reader and Zoom function available in the iOS devices.

All the buttons and controls in the app are properly labeled for the screen reader. The app can be easily used with Bluetooth keyboards. This app has passed all the fundamental accessibility tests (100% score) on The only accessibility limitation is the inability to precisely select text for highlighting or copying with VoiceOver. Also, note that when VoiceOver is running, the top and bottom toolbars are always visible in the book reading screen.

Help and support

The user guide is built into the app. Tap on the "Main menu" icon in the top left of the app screen and then tap on "How to guide" to open it.

VitalSource provides support through different channels. More information is available on Bookshelf Support page.

See also

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This page was last edited by VLuceno on Saturday, April 23, 2016 16:31
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