Publisher Frequently Asked Questions

VitalSource Helps: Publisher Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Topics


What is VitalSource Helps? 

VitalSource Helps is a program designed to support students who may have lost access to course materials due to a campus moving to distance-learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This program is made possible by the leading publishers and resellers in US higher education. The program offers free access to an expansive catalog of etexts thorough May 25, 2020 to students and instructors at impacted 2 and 4-year non-profit institutions in the US. In Canada, access to the catalog will last through April 30. A complete list of eligible institutions is available here. 

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How is publisher content made available for the VitalSource Helps program?

The most commonly used national titles are already in the program, as approved on a per publisher basis. If there are additional titles you’d like to make available, use your normal title management process or follow the web form linked below. VitalSource is not soliciting feedback from students for titles to be added.

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Who is eligible for the VitalSource Helps program?

Students are eligible if they meet the following criteria::

  1. Attend a 2-year or 4-year institution on a semester academic calendar. A complete list of eligible institutions is available here
  2. Be enrolled in course(s) that began prior to March 16, 2020
  3. Use an institution-provided email address

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How do students access VitalSource Helps content?

To get started, students should visit Before students can begin searching for and reading ebooks, they will need to log-in or create a Bookshelf account with their institution-provided email address. 

It is important to note that, while students at your institution may use Bookshelf today as part of an Inclusive Access program, they may access content via an LMS integration that does not require an email address, or their account may be linked to their personal email address. To access VitalSource Helps content, students must use their institution-provided email address.

For students accessing Bookshelf for the first time:

Here are instructions on creating a Bookshelf account that you can share with students and instructors. Once students create an account with an institution-provided email address, they should log in and click on the “Explore” tab in the upper left corner of the screen.

For students with existing Bookshelf accounts linked to their institution-provided email address:

Students with existing Bookshelf accounts linked to their institution-provided email address will see a new tab called “Explore” when they log in. This tab provides access to the freely-available ebooks.

For students with existing Bookshelf accounts NOT linked to their institution-provided email address:

Here is an article explaining how a student can check the email account associated with their Bookshelf account, and how to change it to an institutionally provided email account to access VitalSource Helps ebooks.

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How long is the VitalSource Helps program available?

VitalSource and the participating publishers are offering free access to ebooks through May 25, 2020, for US Students and April 30th for Canadian Students to ensure affected students are able to use required learning materials through final exams. Once the free access period ends, students will maintain access to their Bookshelf account. However, ebooks provided during the VitalSource Helps program will no longer appear. 

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How many titles may be accessed?

A total of seven titles per eligible student can be accessed in their account

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What types of content are available?

Only ebook content is available. Courseware is excluded.

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What ebooks are included?

Most major ebook titles from the commonly used publishers in higher education are available. Publishers have thoughtfully made their catalogs broadly available in VitalSource Helps, and we welcome as much help to students as you can provide through our platform.

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Are LMS-integrated accounts supported?

Any content typically accessed via the LMS, such as Inclusive Access content, will still be available on LMS-integrated accounts. However, ebooks that are part of VitalSource Helps are only available through the Explore tab at and within all native Bookshelf apps (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, etc.).

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Where should I direct students having access issues?

Refer students to the FAQ articles here.

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Can students download materials?

Yes! To access ebooks offline, students simply need to use the Bookshelf app on their mobile device or desktop/laptop computer. 

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Does Bookshelf allow users to print portions of books?

In most cases, yes. However, printing restrictions are set by each publisher.

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Is the Bookshelf platform accessible?

Yes. Like you, we take accessibility seriously. You can find our VPATs here, and relevant support articles here. We ensure all materials meet a minimum standard of accessibility, and the Bookshelf® platform supports even more accessibility features, but publishers determine enhanced accessibility for their own content. 

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 What is VitalSource’s privacy policy?

VitalSource does not share user data and all participants of the VitalSource Helps program will automatically be opted out of marketing initiatives. To learn more, click here to view our Privacy FAQs.

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I have unanswered questions, can you help?

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