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Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Vet's Student Ebook shelf

Merry Xmas everyone!  I'm writing daily and posting when I have a post done and an internet connection - it's great being on vacation.  

For my ebook collection I use Vital Source.  The software came preloaded on my computer, they are a reliable source for college text books, and books in vital source format have several advantages over pdf type formats.  Here is why I’ve come to love my e-textbooks.

What to love:
-Portability.  I have vital source on my computer, on my i-touch, and on my iPad.  My 5 textbooks thus go every where with me and I can look up terms and concepts anywhere - during a small group session, during lecture, during clinics, on the train, at a bluegrass festival, or anywhere else.   Don’t have internet?  Not a problem - the books are downloaded to my device, I do not have to be connected to the internet to access my texts.  Don’t have one of my electronic devices?  I can go online and log into vital source and access my books on the net.  Most of the time I have no idea what the actual physical textbook looks like, so when I went to a friends house and looked at hers, I was surprised how very large and unwieldy some of them were - definitely not books I would put into the backpack.

-Flexibility.  I can customize the size of the font and how I want the page laid out.  I recently saw one of my favorite texts in the physical form and was surprised how tiny the font was and how difficult I found it to read because the text was in columns. 

-Efficiency.  I can search my entire collection, a single book, or highlighted text.  I can highlight text and then go back to view only the text that was highlighted in a certain color right before a test.  I can add notes.  I can search for a single term and quickly scroll through the book and review every reference to that term.  Indexes are rarely complete on these texts and most of the time what I’m looking up is rather obscure.  I find looking up stuff more often because it’s so easy. 

-Updates within the version are free and automatic

-Increased “learning opportunities”.  I create study guides for each block that are a compilation of lectures, labs, and clarifications from the book.  It’s a comprehensive need-to-know guide for the tests now and my boards later on.  I do screen “grabs” from the lecture slides, but sometimes there is a particular diagram in the book that does a perfect job of illustrating a concept.  When you own the ebook, images and zoomable and putting the diagram in my word doc (actually a pages doc) is as easy as clicking and dragging it from the ebook to the document. 

-If I simply must have a hard copy of what I’m reading, I can create a chapter to a pdf with one click and either print the entire chapter, or a section of a chapter.  I can also easily email pdf chapters. 

The Downside:
-You spend the same money.  E-books cost about the same as buying the physical textbook from amazon.  Usually a couple of dollars off retail, but nothing substantial.
-The time honored tradition of selling back your textbooks at the end of the term is not (currently) an option.  Or selling it to a friend.  Best to reserve buying an ebook for those texts you plan on permanently adding to your library.  I sold back very very few of my core text books in undergrad, so don’t anticipate this being an issue. 
-Although I think you gain something in the accessibility of the content, other elements of how the author is presenting the text is lost - the formatting, the page layout, and organization.  These elements are less important to me in these texts because of how dense they are and how often I need to search them, however these elements are why I still chose to own some physical texts - such as Dogs in Motion. 

So, as much as I love real books, for my schoolbooks, I just couldn’t justify NOT doing ebooks.  I’ve come to really love the format, and utilize the books I have in an ebook format far more than the few physical ones I have. 

On to the actual books!

Histology and Cell Biology: An Introduction to Pathology
This book got me through my first block (“Foundations Block”).  Excellent diagrams and cool “concept maps” that have saved my a$$ more than once.  The downside is that this is a human biology book and not all concepts can be applied to veterinary medicine.  However, as someone that wasn’t nearly as comfortable with cell biology as I should have been as a first year vet student, I will be HIGHLY recommending this book to first year students next year, as it was easy to use and picked up where my undergrad texts left off. 

Should you own this book?  Assuming you aren’t in vet school, or a cell biology undergrad major, or hold a special fascination for cell biology (and if this is true, you are very very weird) - you probably don’t need to rush to add this to your library. 

Pathologic Basis of Veterinary Disease
This was my favorite book until I discovered Dogs in Motion.  This is a fascinating read with really cool pictures.  I have spent much more time in this book than strictly necessary, looking at pictures, reading about strange diseases, and interrupting my mom’s knitting to insist she hear about some weird and graphic abnormality.  Be warned - this book is a MONSTER, with tiny text arranged in columns.  This book has been extremely helpful as an ebook (love that it’s searchable) and very readable because I can change up the text and formatting (and zoom in on the pictures!!!!!). 

Should you own this book?  Yes.  If you are going to add one vet book to your library, I highly recommend this one.  Chances are, it’s the same book your vet is reading, and while it isn’t horse specific, it’s comprehensive and incredible interesting.  Probably not for the faint of heart or if you are made ill by rather graphic pictures.  However, most horse people I know seem to have a fascination with the worst case scenarios….

Small Animal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
We were warned up front as a class that this book contains errors.  Unfortunately that was never elaborated on and I still have no idea where and what the errors are.  There aren’t many vet specific pharmacology books, and while I didn’t want to purchase this one as I am NOT doing small animal - the first section of the book that describes how drugs move through the body and are absorbed and secreted was well written.  In my opinion, it would behoove everyone to know more about how pharmacology and how pharmokinetics work.  My opinion of drugs and their place in therapy has changed based on a better understanding of how drugs actually work within the body.  Is this the best pharmacology book out there?  Probably not.  Was it concise and understandable?  Yes.

Should you own this book?  Probably not this specific book - but I would argue that you should at least try a cheaper used copy, or borrow a copy of some pharmacology book that helps you understand the dynamics of drugs within the body.  Horse people are notorious about self diagnosing and self dosing their horses.  Some might argue that you as an owner aren’t qualified to medicate your animal - but most of us either have banamine, surpass, bute, etc. in the cabinet and intend to use it if necessary - so let’s at least do it with a basic understanding of drug therapy.  As an added bonus, you will be able to “speak the same language” as your vet, and will be able to ask the right questions when presented different options in drug therapies. 

Textbook of Veterinary Anatomy
I chose this anatomy book because it had the best pictures, the most comprehensive text, and wasn’t species specific - all in an “affordable” price (~$100). 

Should you own this book?  Like the pharmacology book, I think you should, as an educated animal owner be familiar with basic anatomy - however this doesn’t have to be THE book you own.  I had a school project where we were suppose to find online, free resources that could help us understand and learn anatomy.  There are surprisingly few reliable animal anatomy resources.  While Wiki and Google can be useful for a lot of subjects, IMO anatomy isn’t one of them. 

Veterinary Immunology: An Introduction
It was important to me to chose an immunology book that was veterinary specific - after all, I’m creating my veterinary library - and this was the recommended text.  It’s well done, organized, and has really nice diagrams.  I found the searchable feature of the ebook version invaluable. 

Should you own this book?  If you have an animal with an immune disease such as Lupus (SLE), and are the overachieving type that would like to understand the mechanism behind the disease, go for it.  For the rest of us, google is probably sufficient.


  1. OT question for you (hope thats OK)
    I know you've done civil war re-enactment stuff, do you know where I could buy US Cavalry bridle rosettes? My friend just found a Cavalry bridle, complete, made in 1908 and it was the coolest thing ever, I'd love to have a copy of one. The bit sure was a wicked looking thing though!

  2. OT is perfectly fine with me! I'm assuming you are interested in reproduction rosettes. There are definitely varying degrees of quality when it comes to the rosettes - so I tend to buy them from the saddle maker that IMO is one of the best. Doug Kidd owns "Border States Leatherworks" ( and I've never been dissapointed with his stuff - it holds up to real use, including endurance. The latest catalog on his website is 2007, so the best thing woud be to email him for the latest pricing. The rosettes did change over the years so make sure you specify which year model you want and whether you are doing cavalry or artillery.

    If you have any trouble or don't see what you want, let me know and I'll dig up my other contacts. :)

  3. CG-

    Mel's Pa here.

    The bits came in different sizes and severity so I would not not judge our forefathers too harshly.

    Doug makes his own bits and can make them in whatever size and severity is desired. (Orginal bits tend to be too narrow for modern horses.)

  4. I interpreted the "wicked" comment as "cool", according to the modern interpretation :)

  5. Blogger now shows the number of page views for each individual they heck does this post have almost double what any of the other posts have???????? You'all find the contents of my bookshelf THAT interesting? *shakes head*


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