UTSA Libraries & Textbooks

Innovative Strategies to Support Roadrunners

E-Textbooks: Library Access

The textbook publishing landscape has many complicated hurdles. Libraries must purchase textbooks in an institutionally-friendly format. Unfortunately, most commercial textbook publishers do not offer this access option. In the instances where library access is available, the prices can be exorbitant and typically allow only 1 or 3 max simultaneous users per textbook. For UTSA high-enrollment courses, which often have 100+ students per section, this access model is not ideal.

Publishers create the illusion that textbook models are economical, but table below depicts the reality of the situation and offers some practical insight into these barriers. Libraries have found creative ways around these challenges, such as providing fair use chapter scans, but due to copyright limitations, we are not able to scan and upload more than the amount allowed under fair use per book. This simply is not a sustainable access or budgetary model for libraries or for our students. 

Percentage of E-Textbooks Available via Institutional Purchase

Table 2: Percentage of E-Textbooks Available via Institutional Purchase in 2021
Publisher Approximate Percentage Available
Cengage 7%
Houghton 6%
McGraw-Hill 30%
Pearson 8%

Infuriatingly Thin Data

Note: UTSA librarians retrieved these numbers with ProQuest’s Online Acquisitions and Selection Information System, one of the few tools librarians can leverage for reliable data about the textbook market. OASIS has limitations: it does not allow for filtering by user licenses, so the percentages in Table 2 reflect only e-textbooks. The actual percentage of e-textbooks available for institutional purchase may be even lower.

Additional Readings

McGraw-Hill. (2020). "Agreement gives college students convenient access to more than 800 McGraw Hill textbooks through ProQuest." McGraw-Hill Education. 

ProQuest. (2022). “What is OASIS?” ProQuest Ex Libris.

UTSA Student Union (2022). Whataburger Resource Room.