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Reviewing eTextbooks for Free (beta)

Publishers and eBook Distributors provide instructors and students previews and samples of their eBooks. Feel free to explore the different eBook formats and the different eReaders which can enable you to take notes, highlight, and sometimes share your notes.

eBook and eResource Distributors:


CourseSmart offers students and faculty a catalog of nearly 20,000 eTextbooks, covering 90% of core textbooks used today in North American Higher Education, as well as the largest online catalog of eResources and digital course materials available for instant access.

CourseSmart provides a variety of services to instructors including Instant Access. Any Instructor who has already received at least one eTextbook from one of CourseSmart’s publisher partners can register for Instant Access. Instant Access enables you to immediately view any eTextbook(s) that you have requested. Register online for Instant Access.

The CourseSmart reader allows faculty and students to easily switch between online and offline access with full synchronization of notes and highlights. Apps for iPad, iPhone and Android ensure anywhere, anytime access to eTextbooks.

CourseSmart also Offers "Take a Look" preview of the eTextbook and the ability to view a book description and full table of contents. "Request Online Copy" usually takes a day or two for rep-approval. 14-Day Free Trial is available to students on all titles.

Vitalsource logo

Vitalsource Bookshelf® is the an advanced e-book software where you get three-way access to your books: download, online, and mobile. Notes and highlights automatically stay in sync no matter where you make them. The Vitalsource Store offers a catalog on eTextbooks and course materials with free 14 day trials on many of its eTextbooks.

Xplana logo

Xplana's Content Library offers students and instructors free access to an online library of over 400,000 curated and user-generated open educational resources. In an effort to advance contextualized learning, Xplana incorporates these assets and the following tools to enhance eBooks:

  • Book Resources – Faculty and Subject Matter Expert curated resources tagged to the key learning concepts within your book
  • The Lookup Tool – By highlighting a word, you will be provided a definition along with the option to search for the word in Wikipedia or Google

After creating your free profile online, you can manage your favorite study materials, eBook annotations, and albums of content via our smart phone apps for iPhone and Android devices.

NOOK Study logo

Barnes& Noble NOOK Study Application. NOOK Study is a free eTextbook application for PC and Mac that helps students save money and study smarter. eTextbooks offer savings of up to 60% and most are available through Barnes & to try before you buy as 7-day free trials. The NOOK Study application helps students organize all course materials, eTextbooks, eBooks, notes, slides, and more. Anything you can print, you can import and organize in NOOK Study. NOOK Study’s Search tool makes it simple to search your entire NOOK Study library at once. You can search for a term or phrase in your library, by course, by book , your notes or use the Look Up feature to search the web. NOOK Study users can copy and paste, take notes, highlight, annotate, tag, print and also import documents or professor handouts. Download NOOK Study for free at and see why says "Barnes & Noble may well have the coolest digital study tool around."

CafeScribe logo

CafeScribe is a digital textbook platform that offers a full world of reading, studying, connecting and getting inspired. It provides students with the ability to not only read, highlight and take notes, but also to search, sort and quickly summarize notes and highlights into custom study guides. And with CafeScribe’s powerful sharing features, it’s never been easier for faculty to tailor digital textbooks to the needs of their class - adding notes, insights, links to online content and more – right within the course material! CafeScribe offers a free 3 day trial of many textbooks.

  • Information about accessibility: The CafeScribe platform in now compatible with the major screen readers in the market. Each UI components is tagged and can be announced by assistive technology and can be navigated using a keyboard. The next objective for CafeScribe, scheduled for Fall 2011, is to complete a Web Version VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) so that interested customers may have access to detailed information about our product when analyzed against WCAG 2.0 A-level conformance.

Flatworld Knowledge logo

Flatworld Knowledge textbooks are professionally published textbooks that are brought to market under an open license (Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-NC), providing faculty with the legal right to modify and adapt the textbook to better fit their teaching/learning goals. The business model provides that there is an online version of the Flat World Knowledge original textbook or the professor’s derivative that is free for students to access, read, and use at any time. You do need to adopt the book you choose in order for your course to be established and for your students to access your specific content. When you adopt the book, you automatically register your book in the Find My Class tool. Students use ‘Find My Class’ to access your book and its many affordable formats (html; pdf; epub, etc), to audio, to print and study aids.

  • Information about accessibility: Flat World Knowledge textbooks are readily available through a typical web browser online in HTML format, as well as ePub, mobi, PDF, and (in most cases) MP3 Audio file formats. Flatworld Knowledge’s ePub files can be sent to Bookshare (a non-profit organization that converts content to accessible format), who then produces digital Braille and DAISY reader versions, all available for free to any student.

Publishers also provide you ways to request digital "desk copies" of their eTextbooks. Here are the websites for the major publishers for higher education: