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Commercial Textbooks

Library Services is working to provide access to e-textbooks where possible because the cost of textbooks and other course materials are a major financial hurdle for some students. Instructors are encouraged to use an existing e-book, adopt an OER, or create an online coursepack through ARES.

In a virtual environment, commercial textbooks present the following challenges:

  • approximately 85% of existing course textbooks are simply unavailable to libraries in any other format than print;
  • many textbook publishers do not provide electronic purchasing options for libraries;
  • publisher profit models are focused on selling e-textbooks directly to students;
  • students in courses adopting textbooks from publishers who will not sell e-books to libraries will not have alternative access to the content;

Despite the library’s commitment to make copies of all required textbooks and course materials available to assist those students who are unable to purchase their own, the following publishers will not allow us to purchase an e-textbook version of their publications:

  • Pearson
  • Cengage
  • Houghton
  • McGraw Hill
  • Oxford University Press Canada (Textbook Division)
  • Elsevier imprints (especially in veterinary and health science) such as:
    • Elsevier Health Science
    • Mosby
    • Saunders
  • Thieme

We encourage you, the instructor, to work with us to explore and identify viable textbook alternatives.

*This information has been taken with permissions from the University of Guelph Library.

Potential Alternatives to Commercial Textbooks

We encourage you, the instructor, to work with us to explore and identify viable textbook alternatives, including:

  • Adopting Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER are freely available educational materials that are openly licensed to allow for re-use and modification. Using OER ensures that students have free and unrestricted access to their course textbook on the first day of class.

  • Course Reserves (Ares)
    • The Course Reserve (Ares) system allows instructors to make course materials available to enrolled students in one convenient place. Learn more about course reserves.
  • Contact an Academic Librarian for purchasing requests or alternate textbook suggestions at

For assistance in adopting an Open Educational Resource (OER) or creating an online course pack through Ares, contact Library Services at