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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Textbook Affordability: What EWU Libraries Can Do to Help

Faculty Commons workshop on January 25, 2023

Likelihood that Your Textbook Could be Licensed by the Library

What percentage of the textbooks could the library purchase?

17%. This is based on a pilot project this quarter. See Results of Library Pilot Projects

Which books are more likely to be available as eBooks?

  • Books from major textbook publishers, such as Pearson, McGraw Hill, Norton, etc. = No.
  • Books from the Big 6 (Hatchette, Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, Random House, and Simon & Schuster) = No. Occasionally a title might be available for 1 or 3 user licenses, but not unlimited.
  • Academic publishers and university presses = Yes, worth investigating.

Of the 74 winter quarter textbooks we either had, or we purchased...

  • Wiley & Sons = 8
  • Sage = 6
  • Oxford University Press = 6
  • Taylor & Francis = 4
  • Other university presses = 12

Of the 42 titles we purchased, were able to buy DRM-free versions for 11 of them, but there was no pattern to particular academic publishers or university presses.

Results of Library Pilot Projects

EWU Libraries has conducted two pilot projects around textbook affordability. And Ielleen wrote a white paper about textbook affordability in winter 2022.

Spring 2022

Ielleen Miller and Qing Stellwagen received an Eagle Grant to pilot purchasing textbooks. We were awarded $2800 and asked faculty to fill out a survey to identify possible textbooks to purchase, giving us 46 titles. Of the 46, we already had 8 as ebooks, and were able to purchase 4 additional titles with unlimited use. These 12 ebooks were used an average of 326 times. Only one of the twelve wasn't used (one we didn't purchase), while one was used 1577 times. Our cost per use for the 4 ebooks ranged from 25 cents to $2.90. 

In contrast, only 3 of the 19 print books we ended up purchasing (based on cost to the student and the number of students enrolled) were checked out at all, and the most used book was checked out 9 times.  The cost per use of these 3 titles ranged from $12.44 to $89.99. While one might suspect that the online classes would be the least likely to use the print book on reserve, the two used the most frequently were both for online classes. Thus faculty promoting that the textbook is on course reserves is likely the most important criteria.

Winter 2023

Based on the prior results, prior to the beginning of winter quarter, we focused on whether we could be proactive and purchase ebooks. The bookstore graciously gave us a spreadsheet of the adopted textbooks. Checking all of them against what we already have, and what we could purchase for unlimited use for less than $400, we already had 34 titles, and the instructor wanted us to purchase 42 titles, or 17% of all of the Winter 2023 adopted titles.

Based on the first bookstore price, or a rough average of the used book cost, our 76 library ebooks can potentially save students $70,346.

Look for a Specific Book

If you have found we already have access to your assigned book, click on the link to view it, to determine how wide the access is.

  • Some titles are 1 or 3 users at a time. That means if more than 1 or 3 students are looking at the ebook at the same time, they won't be able to view it at all. And some of these titles were purchased for all of the Summit libraries. Talk to your librarian to see if we can purchase an unlimited use license.
  • Some are unlimited, though if a student wants to download the whole ebook, they will need Adobe Digital Editions beforehand. ProQuest is very good about prompting the user for what they'll need.
  • If the student just wants one or two chapters, they can view the table of contents and download what they need as PDFs. There may be a limit as to how many pages they can download at one time.
  • Some are DRM-free, and they can download the whole book as a PDF or EPUB (if they want to use an ebook reader).

We Don't Have the Title

Talk to your librarian. The librarians can search our ebook vendor to see what the options are.

Look for eBooks by Subject

You can search the Catalog by subject/keyword, and limit to eBooks, to see all the titles available. You'll want to exclude the government documents.

If you'd prefer to browse, or you'd like to do a detailed keyword search, go directly to: