According to Oxford Dictionaries, a textbook is defined as "a book used as a standard work for the study of a particular subject".
In the higher education sector, such works are often a joint effort between publishers and selected authors who are subject matter experts. These textbooks are designed for course delivery over the course of a typical semester. As such, it has around 13-16 chapters. These textbooks also come with learning aids for students (e.g. quizzes, supplementary materials, case studies) as well as for teaching aids for course instructors (e.g. PowerPoint slides, case study notes).
The financial incentive for textbooks publishers has always been to sell the maximum number of copies possible. Textbook sales representatives aim to persuade course instructors to adopt their textbook for a particular course, often by offering a free inspection copy.
Textbook publishers also try to create new editions every year or every other year. This helps to ensure that their contents are current, reduce the re-use of older editions, and encourage students to purchase the latest edition. Some works are also differentiated geographically, where there can be a U.S. or U.K. edition and an international edition.
Course instructors may directly contact the textbook publishers to request for their personal inspection copy. Depending on the subject area, a course instructor may or may not have many choices in selecting a textbook.
In the digital age, publishers have brought their content online, creating their own e-textbook or learning solution platforms. Below are some of the major textbook publishers in higher education with their corresponding online learning/teaching platform (if available):
NTU Library does not have the mandate nor budget to supply students with their personal or individual copies of designated textbooks.
The role of the Library is to provide shared access to Course Reserves for students.
For textbooks designated as course reserves, the Library will purchase at least one copy so that students will have a choice to use it when they require. If the class size exceeds 50, we may purchase additional copies.
Schools may choose to directly work with textbook publishers to supply students with their personal or individual copy of e-textbooks.
Digital Copies of e-Textbooks
Prior to 2017, NTU Library (and many other academic libraries) was not able to purchase e-textbooks because publishers had not wanted to sell them to libraries for shared use. Major textbook publishers prefer selling direct to students.
Since June 2017, NTU Library was able to purchase Digital Copies of textbooks from some textbook publishers. These were made available via VitalSource Bridge, a third-party platform provider.
There are major differences between digital copies of textbooks in the Library and the e-textbooks students buy: