Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

KPU Library: E-Textbook Purchasing Challenges

Current news and events for KPU Library

The challenge of purchasing e-textbooks for the library’s collection

We thank our colleagues at the University of Guelph for articulating these challenges. We have adapted their original statement with their permission.

As we approach the fall 2020 semester, KPU Library is working hard to provide alternative access to the print reserves collection. A significant portion of the books on reserve are print copies of required textbooks, and students cannot access them because of the reduction of in-person service due to the pandemic. To support instructors and students over the next several months, we are developing new approaches to how we acquire and provide access to course material, recognizing that students are now learning in a primarily online, alternative delivery environment.   

However, this work is hindered by textbook publishers who do not readily provide electronic purchasing options for libraries. Many textbooks are simply unavailable to libraries to purchase in a format other than print, and this is a barrier to students who rely on the library for textbook access in an online environment. We know that high textbook costs have a negative impact on post-secondary students in B.C., such as taking fewer courses or not registering for a course. We also know many students have chosen not to purchase a required textbook at least once.

The library endeavours to make its collection accessible to students and instructors. Especially now, during COVID-19, we recognize the importance of providing digital access to course material. Despite our commitment, there are publishers who do not provide e-options for many of the textbooks the library wishes to purchase. Publishers such as:

  • Cengage
  • Houghton
  • McGraw Hill
  • Oxford University Press Canada (Textbook Division)
  • Pearson

So to our instructors: this means that if you have courses that have adopted textbooks by these publishers, and perhaps others, students who do not purchase the textbook may not have any viable course material or textbook alternatives. We want to work with you to explore and identify viable textbook alternatives, including:

  1. Using an existing e-book in the relevant subject area from the library’s e-book collection or requesting that the library purchase one. There are many academic e-books that aren’t considered textbooks, and are therefore available for the library to purchase.
  2. Adopting an open educational resource (OER). OERs are freely available educational materials that are openly licensed to allow for re-use and modification by instructors.
  3. Creating digital access to course material in our library’s collection through our new service, Link.Scan.Open.
    • Posting individual book chapters or excerpts and scanned copies of the content, subject to copyright.
    • Linking to content from the library’s existing collection of electronic resources (e-books, journal articles, streaming media, and other digital materials) or acquiring new content whenever possible.

Efforts will be made to secure online materials that are free from digital rights management restrictions (DRM) in order to ensure unfettered student access. DRM includes limits on the number of users that can access a resource at any one time, as well as limits on copying, printing and downloading.

Any instructors teaching a fall course are also welcome to contact the library at any time for support with sourcing their course materials.



Jen Adams, Acquisitions & Collection Assessment Librarian

Kelsey Chaban, Student Engagement & Community Outreach Librarian

Karen Meijer-Kline, Scholarly Communications Librarian

Allison Richardson, Electronic Resources & Music Librarian

Email your Liaison Librarian