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Library Resources -- Recommendations and Requests

This guide is about submitting a resource recommendation or request to the Library.


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.

Selecting a Textbook

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):


Getting copies for students to purchase


  • Course instructors can work with Booklink (the campus bookstore) to arrange for sufficient physical copies for students to purchase.
  • Instructors may also liaise with the publisher to arrange for electronic textbooks (e-textbooks) to be made available.
  • Depending on what is available, students may choose to purchase a physical copy of the textbook or the e-textbook.

Textbooks and the Library

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 books and other library materials for students.

We understand that students are expected to purchase their own copy of textbooks (whether in print or electronic version) as they deem necessary.

For textbooks designated as Course Reserves (typically textbooks), the Library will purchase at least one copy so that students will have a choice to use it if 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. This would mean that schools fund these purchases. For example, a title that cost $80 each for 100 students will require $8,000.

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:

  1. The Library can only purchase a limited number of digital copies for shared use.
  2. The digital copies do not come with the learning features or teaching aids available from the publisher's website.
  3. Access to these digital copies are shared like a physical item, with each copy being used by one person at a time. No two persons can "borrow" and read the same copy at the same time.
  4. Access to these digital copies are based on the terms and capabilities of the platform. For titles on VitalSource Bridge, each loan is for 24-hours,  and there is currently no way to return it earlier. 



  • Some titles designated by course instructors as Course Reserves may not be classified as textbooks from the publisher's point of view. In such cases, the Library may be able to purchase a copy of the book with unlimited concurrent use, i.e. all students using the title can download or use their own copy.
  • For titles sold as textbooks, publishers typically sells on a per-copy basis so as to maximize revenue and profits. Whether a book is deemed a 'textbook' and its terms of sale all depends on the publisher, and such business decisions may change from time to time. See also: Overview of E-Books