Those of us in the library monitoring ebooks closely wanted to share some details as many of you begin making textbook decisions for the fall. By now the majority of students on the ACU campus have access to an iPad, presenting ACU faculty with a unique opportunity to offer cost-savings on textbook purchases in 2014-15. Here are some of the providers you might consider.


iBooks – The standard ebook reader for iOS is Apple’s iBooks app (free). Most trade titles you teach are available on the iBookstore as well as a number of interactive textbooks from some of their publishing partners that include media. In addition to highlighting/annotation, the iBooks app allows students to turn their notes into notecards for later review.

You can also open and store PDF and ePub files in iBooks, whether you digitize an article or share a digital copy of your syllabus. The iBooks Author application for Mac also allows teachers to produce custom content with interactive maps and media.

•  Search Textbooks in iBooks

•  iBooks Textbooks


Kindle – Amazon has Kindle reader apps for the iPad and iPhone as well as most mobile and desktop platforms. They offer Kindle versions for many trade titles you already teach on that now include Xray which they describe as a “smart glossary” pointing to related content. Students buy the Kindle book and it syncs directly to the Kindle app for iPad (free), and they’re saving money.

Recently Amazon has also worked with textbook companies to offer rental options for Kindle where students are allowed to rent some textbook titles. The main point is that students don’t need to own a Kindle device to read Kindle books on their iPad.

•  Search Kindle Textbooks

•  Amazon Student (50% off Prime)


CourseSmart – Started as a collaboration among textbook companies, CourseSmart claims to offer 90% of standards in Higher Ed. Students rent a copy of their textbook for the semester instead of owning the book. CourseSmart for iPad (free) is also one of several readers they offer for mobile and desktop platforms.

•  Search CourseSmart

•  Request an Examination Copy


Inkling – This is another interactive textbook platform, so many of Inkling’s titles will incorporate media and interactivity as well as self assessments. They offer Inkling for iPad (free) as well as for Android. Students can buy only the chapters from a textbook the teacher assigns which can also lower prices.

•  Search Inkling

•  Request an Examination Copy


GooglePlay Books – Another company offering e-textbooks from major publishers is Google through its GooglePlay store. Some titles are also available to rent and they offer GooglePlay Books for iPad (free) as well as for Android and other readers with the standard features.

For faculty interested in historical manuscripts, the Google Books project also scanned millions of volumes from the world’s great research libraries, and since most are out of copyright students can read original first editions for free.

•  Search GooglePlay Textbooks

•  Google Books catalog


OpenLibrary – Finally, OpenLibrary is another great resource for putting students in touch with free content, especially primary documents and first editions available in PDF and ePub. Once students go to a book record on OpenLibrary, they can download and open the file in the iBooks app.

•  Search OpenLibrary


Kno – One other player in the interactive textbook market is Kno. They were recently acquired by Intel and have some unique features, including student dashboards and assessments. They offer Kno for iPad (free) as well as for other mobile platforms. Their catalog is growing so may be worth a look.

•  Search Kno



Library Resources

EBSCO eBooks – Integrated into ACU’s OneSearch, students and faculty can access more than 100,000 downloadable ebooks from academic publishers including Elsevier, Wiley, and Springer. After creating accounts on EBSCO and Adobe Digital Editions, ebooks can be downloaded using the Bluefire e-reader.

•  Create an EBSCO Account

•  Create an Adobe Digital Editions ID 

•  Install Bluefire app


Overdrive – Access thousands of e-books from the Abilene Public Library.  Download the Overdrive app (free) from the iTunes store to read ebooks offline.

•  Search Overdrive at APL

•  Install Overdrive app


Hoopla – Finally, the Abilene Public Library also offers access to a growing library of films and television.  Download the Hoopla app (free) to setup your account.

•  Hoopla Overview

•  Install Hoopla App



eBook Updates

Cover250This will be the first year all freshman Bible students will use Introducing the New Testament from Baker Academic. ACU faculty led by Curt Niccum, Trevor Thompson, and Rodney Ashlock have worked closely with Baker to develop content for the new edition filmed in the Learning Studio.

All Cornerstone freshmen will again be using a revised edition of the custom Cornerstone iBook written by ACU faculty and led by Cliff Barbarick and produced in the Learning Studio.



For More Information

Does your department teach a course taken by hundreds of students? We’re happy to work with your faculty to weigh the value of ebook options currently available or custom textbook projects you might contribute to in the future.