Textbook Alternatives

Request an Ebook Title for Your Course

Search for Ebooks in the Library

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

Esearch logo  

Find a Title that might be available as a Library Ebook

See also the search on the Smaller Publishers page, as many of those titles will be available as library ebooks. You can also collaborate with Subject Specialist library faculty to find suitable titles that are available as library ebooks.

Copy Link from Esearch

The simplest method for finding stable links for library ebooks, or print books, is to use Esearch, which provides a permanent link that you can copy and reuse.

1. Search for the book in Esearch. Or use the ebook search to limit your results to ebooks.

2. Select the Permanent Link next to the book title in the search results, and copy the URL:

Esearch permanent link example

Library eBooks

Library ebooks can be helpful when academic or trade books are assigned for course readings.
Not every title is available for purchase as a library ebook.

Library ebooks have some advantages and disadvantages. Overall, EMU instructors have been very happy with how well library ebooks have worked in supporting students.

+ Students can access them for free with an emich login from off campus.
+ No particular ebook reader or other special device is needed: Library ebooks can be read via an internet browser on a desktop computer or laptop.
+ 24/7 access. Unlike print reserves, these are available when the library is closed.
Some library ebooks can be purchased in unlimited multiple user versions which allow simultaneous access.
+ Some library ebooks may be accessible to students with special needs.

- National surveys show that students prefer studying with print books that they can highlight and annotate (some library ebooks 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 a free library ebook. The library ebook provides an option for low income students that may otherwise try to get by with just lecture notes.
- Some library ebooks must be read online and have only limited options for downloading or printing content.
- Some ebooks are only available in a one-person at a time version.
- Although ebooks work well on computers and laptops, they don't always work or display well on phones, tablets, and other devices.

Multiple user ebooks vs. Single user ebooks
Some library ebooks 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 some cases, librarians have the option to purchase a 2 or 3 simultaneous user version.

Using ebooks 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 ebook, consider also placing a print copy of the book on library reserves, as this provides an option for students who are less comfortable using ebooks.

If assigning an ebook, 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 a link to the EMU Library's Esearch record for the book (see box below). 

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. A link to the Esearch record is stable and set up to work from off campus with an EMU NetID.

When assigning a library ebook, your subject librarian may be able to provide advice that could prevent access headaches. If you experience problems with accessing an ebook, 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 Ask a Librarian chat.

A few issues we've seen:

It does not work well to use ebooks from Books24x7 as course reading. EMU's to Books24x7 allows only 3-users at a time across the entire database. Using titles from Books24x7 as course reading causes frequent busy signals. If there is a title you want to assign from Books24x7, ask the library to buy the title for you separately, as the library can often get a better version without access headaches.

Limited user ebooks from EBSCO can get stuck in a busy state.  When a user closes the browser window the ebook remains in a "busy" state until it times out. If a user accidentally closes the browser window, they may have to wait to get back into the ebook.

Bookmarks can cause access issues. 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).  Any easy solution is to bookmark the listing page on the Library Ebooks Used in Classes guide.   

Ebooks: 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.

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 ebooks come via subscription services:
Berg Fashion Library
Literature Online

These ebooks sometimes come via subscriptions:
‚ÄčEBSCO ebooks (some we own and some are part of a subscription from the Michigan Electronic Library).
SAGE ebooks (some we own and some are part of a subscription)
Wiley ebooks (some we own and some are part of a subscription)

If you have chosen a book from one of these, there is a 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 reading, as they may be able to point you to a more stable version.

It can be a problem to assign a title from Books24x7 as course reading. Our current contract allows only 3 simultaneous users across the entire Books24x7 database, so assigning a title from Books24x7 can lead to problems accessing the titles for both your students and other users at EMU. When you find a title in Books24x7 that you want to assign as required reading, please ask the library to purchase a copy of that title on another platform.

About the Fund

The EMU Library Textbook Affordability Initiative works  to improve student access to free or more affordable course reading materials.


EMU Student Government logo


EMU Student Government has sponsored $80,000 worth of library ebooks used in classes!

 The GAMEABOVE alumni group is sponsoring $75,000 worth of course ebooks!


This project was made possible in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.


The EMU Credit Union has sponsored $5000 worth of libray ebooks used in courses.

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Ebooks for Courses

Grants in 2014, 2015, 2018, & 2019/2020 gave librarians the opportunity to provide library ebook versions for some books currently assigned in EMU classes.