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Athabasca University

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an eText?

eText is the shorthand term for electronic textbook (sometimes also described as an eBook). It is the digital version of a textbook, which can include other educational resources such as workbooks, problem sets, tutorials, videos, simulations, and interactive software.

What are the learning benefits of eTexts?

eTexts are easy to access through the learning management system, environmentally friendly, promote collaborative learning, and offer several features that can enhance and enrich the learning environment. Some of these advantages include:

  • instant access to content
  • ability to incorporate multimedia learning resources
  • powerful search functions
  • digital options for more universal access
  • students can highlight and annotate text

How long can I access the eText?

You will be able to access the eText online as long as you can access the course in moodle. Access to eTexts can be extended past the course's contract end date by downloading VitalSource's Bookshelf, the platform through which you access eTexts (regardless of the publisher). Downloads will be available on up to 2 mobile devices and 2 computers for a period of between 6 years and perpetuity, depending on the publisher.

Will the eText look exactly like the physical version?

Depending on the file type, the eText will either replicate the printed page exactly, or make more efficient use of the material. In that case, the system chunks the data, shedding white space, moving straight to the next page. So, you may find that a search for page 123 actually takes you to page 119; this is the page number of the electronic file, but contains the same information as page 123 in the bound book (and downloaded copy).

What if my computer crashes, or I upgrade to a new machine?

VitalSource allows you to install Bookshelf® to a maximum of two computers and two mobile devices. A record of the computers and mobile devices you have installed Bookshelf® on is stored with your account information. You may de-authorize a computer or mobile device at any time in order to add a new machine. Computers should be de-authorized prior upgrading; otherwise one computer may use multiple authorizations.

Do I need to be connected to the Internet to read my eTextbook?

No. AU has arranged both online and offline access. You may download the entire eText to read and work on offline.

Are the eTexts available on mobile devices or just my computer?

eTexts may be viewed online for the period of time that a student has access to the course. Downloads will be available on up to 2 mobile devices and 2 computers for a period of between 6 years and infinitely, depending on the publisher. Like bound books the eTexts are the property of the student, subject to copyright laws.

Can I use an eReader or Windows tablet for my eText?

While Kindle Fire is compatible with eTexts, Windows 8RT (RT only) is not. Please visit technical requirements for further details about specific compatibility.)

Can I print the book?

Yes. In all cases you can print the entire textbook, a section at a time, a few pages at a time depending on the publisher, one time.

Can I copy and paste the text into a Word document?

Yes. Sections of text (as well as highlights and notes) can be copied into MS Word. The appropriate citation will automatically paste.

Will the fees be different for courses using eTexts?

No. Learning resources fees remain the same for all courses.

What happens if a student withdraws from a course using an eText within the 30 day withdrawal period?

If a student withdraws within 30 days, the digital rights to both the online and downloaded eTexts will expire. This does not affect the student's Bookshelf® account, only the book(s) associated with that particular course.

I can't see or access my downloaded version of the eText.

Access the online version of the book using your link to the textbook in Moodle. You will see a message that the license is being updated, after which time you'll have access to the download again. If you encounter further difficulties, contact the Computing Services IT Help Desk. Undergraduate Faculty of Business Students, please contact Undergraduate and Graduate Faculty of Science and Technology Students, please contact

My course uses additional publisher resources, like quizzes and other interactive exercises. Will I still access these if my course has moved to eText?

Yes, AU does still provide access codes for any third-party resources that extend beyond the simple text by providing PIN codes for those course activities. As that code provides a link to the eText as well, students have two ways of seeing the book. They will benefit from having longer access to the eText by accessing the course and associated downloads through Moodle.

If I am already in a course that’s moving to eTexts, will I be required to switch over?

No. Students will continue to use the resources they were provided with at enrollment.

Will I still receive a bound book?

Students enrolled in courses that are part of AU’s eText initiative will not receive the bound book. AU has arranged for discounted books with several of the publishers however; the links are in your course site.

I am using Bookshelf Mobile 3.1. How do I share/subscribe to highlights and notes?

Unfortunately, this feature is not available in Bookshelf Mobile 3.1. It will be available again in the 3.2 release. In the meantime, you can still manage your subscriptions via Bookshelf Online through your web browser on your mobile device.

Updated January 23 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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