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Reading Lists

A guide to using the Reading Lists Online service.

Academic Ebooks - Key Points

Purchasing academic ebooks is not as straightforward as one might think. Models that people might be used to, e.g. Kindle ebooks, are not available for academic institutions. Below are some key points regarding the purchase of academic ebooks.

  • The library relies on 4 aggregate suppliers to purchase ebooks. The ebooks will then be hosted on their own platform (e.g. DawsonEra) or on the publisher's platform (e.g. Cambridge University Press).
  • Not every book is available to purchase as an electronic book. This is normally down to the publisher allowing or not allowing its electronic publication.
  • If an ebook is available to purchase there are a number of licenses/access models that we must pick between. Not of all of these models are available for an individual title so sometimes we have no option but to pick a more restrictive model as that is the only option available to us.The models that exist are:
    • Unlimited access - allows any number of concurrent users for an unlimited period. This is our preference but tends to be the most expensive model of access.
    • Limited concurrent users - will only allow a certain number of users to access the ebook at one time, normally 1 or 3 user licenses. This means we need to buy multiple copies of the ebook to allow multiple access especially for large courses. We have had some ebooks that are over £1,000 for a 1 user license so this is sometimes not a viable option.
    • Credit based system - an ebook will have for example 400 credits. Each time a user logs in to view that ebook, a credit will be used (unless the same user accesses the ebook again within 24 hours). In theory, if a course has hundreds of students, they could all log in to view the book in one day and use all of the credits.
    • If there is no ebook available we rely on our digital copies service to provide a section of the ebook which is compliant with copyright restrictions. The link to the digital copy can then be added to the Talis Aspire Reading List. This does not allow the whole book to be scanned, normally it is around 10% of the book.

Other access models

There are a number of other access models for ebooks, below is some more information on these:

  • Packages - some publishers will only allow access to ebooks as part of a wider package deal. This can lead to libraries purchasing these packages to get access to some relevant content while the rest of the package may not align with the institutions research and/or teaching.
  • E-Textbooks - some publishers will only allow ebooks to published as an etextbook. This means that there is sometimes increased functionality including student and teaching notes, however it is also a very expensive route. This model requires the library to buy an individual copy of the ebook for everyone that might need to access this textbook. An individual copy can be anywhere from relatively cheap to hundreds of pounds; that, multiplied by the number of students on a large course, can mean we would be paying thousands of pounds for access to one textbook.
    This is an incredibly restrictive method and goes against our ethos of purchasing resources that all students can access. Because of this and the high costs attached to this model, it is very unlikely that we would purchase these types of etextbooks.
  • Physical only - some publishers simply don't want to make their texts available electronically, in order to preserve their physical collection.
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