eReviews: Woodhead Publishing, September 1, 2012

Woodhead Publishing Online
Woodhead Publishing

The new Woodhead Publishing Online platform offers ebooks from the international publisher in materials; engineering; textile technology; food science, technology, and nutrition; and energy and environmental technology. There are 827 books available, most of them from within the past ten years.

Each major subject is divided into subcategories, enabling easy browsing; some books fall into multiple categories. Collections may be purchased separately; libraries may also buy content from selected years. A “Pick ’n’ Mix” plan allows the acquisition of customized collections (with a 12-book-minimum purchase). Complete title lists are available from the Woodhead Publishing Online website, allowing librarians to make informed purchase decisions. The collection doesn’t include ILL rights.

The “Materials” category (310 books) includes titles on composites, biomaterials, civil engineering, polymers, and more. “Engineering” (195 books) has some overlap with the previous category and covers welding technologies, metallurgy, fatigue and failure, and marine engineering. In “Textiles” are 150 books on high-performance textiles, clothing, natural textiles, and fabric and yarn technologies. “Food science” (262 books) offers books on food safety, contaminants, chilled and frozen food, food quality, and ingredients. The smallest category, “Energy and Environmental Technology,” includes 28 books on, for example, renewable power and water management.

This is a very specialized resource. Most of the titles are edited volumes with chapters by various experts, and the availability of PDFs for individual chapters is especially useful. The material is relevant to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students as well as to professionals and researchers in the fields covered. A few pure reference works are also included. Books and book chapters each have their own digital object identifier (DOI), enabling easy access to the content from outside the publishing platform.

Usability Users can find content via browsing subject collections or via simple or advanced search techniques. The simple search interface mines the title, abstract, and keywords of books and book chapters, as well as the full text. When a search term is found in the title, abstract, or keyword list, that search term is highlighted in the search results (a feature that can be turned off). Unfortunately, search terms found in the full text are not highlighted within the results.

The advanced search interface has additional options: users may look for titles by author, DOI, date, or ISBN. The default is that results are sorted by relevance, but books can also be arranged by publication date by selecting this option on the advanced search screen.

Material is read through the in-browser viewer, which is compatible with modern browsers including Safari for iPhone or iPad. The availability of DRM-free PDFs for book chapters and an Adobe Flash–free interface means that these titles can be viewed without difficulty in multiple ways on ereaders and tablets.

The standard in-browser book viewer is fast and easy to use. A full-screen option is available, making the most of the screen real estate, and patrons can quickly switch between full screen and standard mode. They can scroll through pages via the page thumbnails at the top of the viewer or scroll page by page in the main viewer window.

Some users may wish for greater flexibility with the in-browser viewer’s zoom feature. At the moment, only two zoom modes are available. Greater magnification would be useful, especially for viewing the books’ many graphs, figures, and tables.

Unfortunately, the platform’s viewer does not include features like text highlighting or the ability to add annotations. The availability of PDF downloads means that these features are not badly missed, however. While the in-browser viewer doesn’t allow text selection at all, this hindrance prevents students from outright copying and pasting the material they find.

The site incorporates features for those who use social networking and online citation management systems, including easy sharing on Twitter and export to Connotea, CiteULike, and Metadata can also be exported in standard RIS and plain text formats to desktop citation software such as Endnote, RefWorks, and Mendeley.

Within the platform, users can save individual chapters or books or entire pages of search results to a “Saved Items” list and, from there, send links to friends, sign up for email or RSS alerts for new content, and organize saved items by adding labels (tags).

Pricing Woodhead offers several purchase options, including packages of current year content, backlist access, and individual title purchases. Chapters are available as PDFs for outright purchase (no DRM) or rental (for ten hours, or 14 or 30 days). The entire collection is sold for $181,369 ($219 per title). Smaller collections by year and by subject are also available, including the complete collection of 28 “Energy and Environmental Technology” books for $10,294 ($303 per title) or 49 books on textile technology published prior to 2006 for $13,355 ($372 each).

Verdict The cost per title of this collection is high, but, the “Pick ’n’ Mix” collections offer welcome flexibility. The easy-to-use in-browser viewer and availability of PDF downloads make this platform more useful than many others, although the lack of ILL rights for chapters is disappointing. Still, for academic libraries, particularly those with graduate programs in the relevant subject areas, this is a useful resource.

Bonnie Swoger About Bonnie Swoger

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, Readers can contact her at