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February 15, 2023

Top textbook myths we need to bust!

Key issues to consider when selecting textbooks

With the closure of the DUSA bookshop, the Library is working closely with faculty curriculum teams to identify and finalise textbook requirements. It is our aim to provide easy access to required textbooks for as many students as possible. Unfortunately, current publishing industry trends such as price increases on ‘core textbook’ titles, restricted licencing and publishers not offering content for purchase, are making equitable access more difficult (further information can be found on CAULs Statement on eBook provision).

Before you choose a textbook, let’s bust some myths.

Myth 1: There is an ebook available on Google Play so the library must be able to get the ebook

Not all publishers make their content available to libraries. Google Play, Kindle, Apple Books etc. are not library lending licences and the existence of one of these types of licences does not indicate the likelihood of a library lending licence being available.

Publishers can also embargo new titles (placing a hold on their distribution, or restricting the sales to certain regions), and libraries cannot access those books until the embargo is lifted. The timeframe varies by publisher.

Myth 2: Because they are less expensive to distribute, ebooks cost less

Consumers may be able to get great deals on ebooks, but libraries generally cannot. Ebook licence costs for libraries are determined by the print price and how much publishers think they will lose in sales to libraries. The more expensive the print, the higher the cost of the ebook.

Myth 3: If the library has a textbook available as ebook students don’t need to purchase a copy.

As much as we wish it were true this myth needs busting. Most ebook licences only allow a limited number of users to access it at once, and as the myth above points out libraries pay a premium price for ebook licences. The library always aims to have ebook access to set textbooks however most ebooks are not appropriate during periods of high demand. If your unit assessment includes an open book exam where the textbook is required to complete the exam, please reach out to the library as we can advise you on the licences available.

Myth 4: All ebooks allow downloading, printing and copying

Publishers may place restrictions on ebooks which prevent them from being downloaded, printed and copied from. These allowances are determined by the Digital Rights Management (DRM) placed on the licence. DRM can vary depending on the type of licence, publisher and platform, meaning what you can do with an ebook can vary greatly. The DRM settings determine if an ebook allows printing (and the % you can print) or copying (and the % you can copy). The terms of the ebook licences override the provisions of the Copyright Act, this can go both ways, sometimes the provisions are more generous than copyright and sometimes they are less generous.

Myth 6: The publisher sales representative told me an ebook was available

If approached by a publishing sales representative please speak to the library before agreeing to use a textbook. Publishers often push their own learning platforms or ebook subscription platforms which are not supported by the library.

Myth 7: OER Textbooks are not of high quality and don’t cover my topic area adequately

With any resource it is up to the academic staff member to determine the quality of a resource. Many OER textbooks are peer reviewed and of high quality. In addition, OER textbooks are free for students and allow academic staff greater flexibility to adapt content for their unit. When comparing OER with their commercial equivalents, it is often useful to review the contents pages side by side. You’d be surprised how similar they actually are. Consult the OER library guide for websites to locate OER textbooks or the Directory of Open Access Books. Need help searching for OERs? Contact your Librarian.

The Library can help!

Now that we have busted some myths, before you select your next textbook make sure you speak to the library. We can offer advice, support and guidance about textbook publication issues and how they might impact access to your preferred texts. Selecting textbooks which students can access through the library ensures equitable access and contributes to better student engagement and success. For further information please contact our Manager, Monographs and Course Resources Skye Ryan



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