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To help instructors move their teaching online during the pandemic, and to help students manage the costs associated with purchasing required textbooks, librarians are working with instructors to identify and purchase electronic versions of textbooks to use in their courses.
The greatest challenge is that many textbook publishers either do not have electronic versions of their textbooks or they are unwilling to sell them to libraries, presumably in order to protect their business model which relies on selling many copies of print and/or electronic textbooks direct to students.
The University of Guelph* estimates that approximately 85% of existing course textbooks are unavailable to libraries in any format other than print. From this, and our own experience, we know that the following publishers will not sell e-textbooks to libraries:
- Elsevier imprints (especially in veterinary and health science) such as:
- Elsevier Health Science
- McGraw Hill
- Oxford University Press Canada (Textbook Division)
Suggestions for Instructors
If you have been using a print textbook, and wish to find an online option, we suggest the following:
- Is the publisher on the above list? If so, we already know the Libraries will not be able to purchase an e-version of your textbook. If you must use your existing textbook, you can check the U of M Bookstore to see if an e-version is available for purchase by students. Otherwise you may wish to explore some of the alternatives below.
- If the publisher isn’t on the list above you can ask us to check to see if an e-version of your textbook is available.
- Some e-books may be a suitable substitute for a textbook, even though they don’t call themselves “textbooks” - and are therefore much more likely to be available for the Libraries to purchase. Try searching the Libraries’ collection for an existing ebook or request us to purchase one that you’ve identified elsewhere. You can also ask your liaison librarian for assistance in identifying a suitable alternative to your current textbook.
- You can consider an OER (Open Educational Resource) substitute for your current textbook. The Libraries’ OER page has more information.
If you have further questions or comments your liaison librarian will be glad to help.
*This page was inspired by our colleagues at the University of Guelph Library.