Textbook Alternatives

E-books for Courses

 Grants in 2014 & 2015  gave librarians the opportunity to provide library e-book versions for some books currently assigned in EMU classes.

Search for E-books in the Library

This search finds only the electronic books in the EMU Library.

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Library eBooks

Library e-books can be helpful when academic or trade books are assigned for course readings.
Not every title is available for purchase as a library e-book, and standard textbook publishers rarely offer library e-books.

Library e-books have some advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages
+ Students can access them for free with an emich login from off campus.
+ No particular e-book reader or other special device is needed: Library e-books can be read via an internet browser on  a desktop computer or laptop.
+ Unlike print reserves, no staff intermediation is required.
+Some library e-books can be purchased in unlimited multiple user versions which allow simultaneous access.
+Some library e-books may be accessible to students with special needs.

Disadvantages
- National surveys show that students prefer studying with print books that they can highlight and annotate (some library e-books offer digital highlighting and annotating). Our experience is that many students will still opt to purchase the print book, while some students are very happy with an free library e-book. The library e-book provides an option for low income students that may otherwise try to get by with just lecture notes.
- Many library e-books must be read online and have only limited options for downloading or printing content.
- Many library e-books must be read online and have only limited options for downloading or printing content.
- Some e-books are only available in a one-person at a time version.
- Although e-books work well on computers and laptops, they don't always work or display well on phones, i-pads, and other devices.

Multiple User e-books vs. Single User e-books
Some library e-books allow any number of readers to access the book simultaneously. Some can only be purchased as a single user book, where only one user at a time can access the book and a 2nd simultaneous user must wait for the first to stop reading the book. In a few cases, librarians have the option to purchase a 2 or 3 simultaneous user version.

Using e-books as Course Reading
When assigning a substantial number of chapters from a book, it's helpful to also place orders for a print version with the book store. This provides an option for students who prefer to purchase a print copy.  If you are assigning just one chapter from an e-book, consider also placing a print copy of the book on library reserves, as this provides an option for students who are less comfortable using e-books.

If assigning an e-book, it is important to understand access procedures. Most important is to provide a fail-safe link that works from off campus. The easy way to do this is to use the link provided in the EMU Library Catalog record for the book (see box below). Or simply provide the link to the EMU catalog record.

Unlike with most web pages, referring students to the link you see in your browser address window is likely to fail. The link from the browser might not work at a different time and place. It also might not work from off campus. The links in the catalog record are stable and set up to work from off campus with a my.emich login.

When assigning a library e-book, your subject librarian may be able to provide advice that could prevent access headaches. If you experience problems with accessing an e-book, discuss this with your subject librarian. We've seen cases where faculty assumed that the problem was limited access to the book, but it was actually a different problem that could be remedied. Students can also be referred to the Reference Desk for help (734-487-2445). Staff and student assistants at the Reference Desk have been trained to help with e-book access issues.

One issue we've seen:
In some cases, the professor provided the correct link and students accessed the book without problems. However, some students tried to add the book as a "favorite" or "bookmark" in the browser on their computer after accessing the book--this added a a web address that would not work correctly (the URL changes after you access the book). A work-around is to use the library catalog record URL as the bookmark/favorite link--this creates "two-click" access: 1. link to catalog record 2. use link to book in catalog record.

Copy Link from the Library Catalog

The simplest method for finding stable links for online books is to use the library catalog. The library catalog provides a link that you can copy and reuse.

1. Search for the book in the library catalog.

2. Right-click on the link in the Holdings information and select Copy Link Address or Save Target As to copy the URL.  This is a stable link. The URL will include the proxy prefix for off-campus access, for example:

http://ezproxy.emich.edu/login?url=http://library.books24x7.com/library.asp?^B&bookid=36919

Catalog screen showing link location:

Example of catalog screen

E-Books: Ownership Issues

Many eBooks in the library collection are purchased and owned by the library in perpetuity; while some other eBooks in the library collection are accessed as part of subscription services; rather than owned by the library.

For the typical researcher it doesn't really matter--if they can read the book, they have what they need. For an instructor who is using a book for course readings, it can make a difference. There is a small chance that books accessed via a subscription service will "disappear" from the collection. For example, occasionally a publisher will stop participating with Books24x7 and we then lose access to those titles (it doesn't happen often).

These books come via subscription services:
Berg Fashion Library
Books24x7
DDA books (library catalog record will contain DDA acronym)
Literature Online

If you have chosen a book from one of these, there is a small chance that the book might not be available in future. Let your Subject Librarian know that you are planning to use one of these for course readings, as they may be able to point you to a more stable version.

E-book Features & Help

E-books from library collections and free e-books have limited features. The availability of frequently requested features and help links are provided below.

Troubleshooting E-book Access Problems provides additional help.

Collection Downloadable Print Options Mobile App Number of Users Help
ACLS Humanities E-books No Yes - 3 pages at a time   Multiple Help
Books 24/7 No Yes   Multiple  
Berg Fashion Library No Yes   Multiple  
Business Expert Press Yes - limited # of pages Yes - limited # of pages   Multiple  
ebrary

Yes - limited # of pages

A limited number of books can be downloaded completely in Adobe Digital Editions format, checkout time is 7 days.

Yes - limited # of pages Recommends Bluefire Reader for iOS and Android Varies, many are 1 user

Quick Start Guide (pdf)

Quick Start (Flash video) 

EBSCOhost eBooks Yes - limited # of pages Yes - limited # of pages

iOS, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook

Varies, most are 1 user Help
Gale Virtual Reference Library Yes - chapters or sections Yes   Multiple Help
Google Books Yes - Free Google eBooks
No - Google Preview/Snippet
Yes - Free Google eBooks
No - Google Preview/Snippet 
  Multiple  
HathiTrust Some Yes   Multiple Help
JSTOR Yes - chapters Yes - chapters   Multiple Help
Literature Online No Yes   Multiple  
National Library of Medicine (NLM) Some Yes   Multiple    
OAIster Some Yes   Multiple  
Project Gutenberg Yes Yes   Multiple FAQ
Sage Knowledge No Yes   Multiple Help
Springer Link E-books Yes - entire books and chapters Yes iOS and Android Multiple  
Wiley Yes - chapters Yes - chapters   Multiple  

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