Kortext is an e-textbook provider the Library is trialling this academic year. It offers significant advantages over traditional e-book platforms and overcomes their various limitations:
As the name suggests, publications obtainable via Kortext are predominantly "core texts" – textbooks and other monographs that students are expected to refer to from week to week as part of their studies. It should not be considered a digital library in its own right and cannot give us electronic access to all academic publications. Nevertheless, Kortext supplies academic and some popular titles from a wide range of subject areas, making it a useful resource for all disciplines and modules regardless of whether they usually require textbooks.
Don't forget to send us your reading lists! If we receive a reading list from you, Library staff will automatically request Kortext e-textbooks for your students. Click the picture above to find out more about the Library's Reading List Service.
E-textbooks and e-books have the following attributes in common:
Although there are a number of e-textbook providers available for libraries and universities to chose from, they all offer the same advantages over traditional models:
Unlike traditional e-books, e-textbook providers incorporate pedagogy into their interface design. Currently under development are formative assessments integrated into the electronic full text. E-textbooks therefore provide a great means of tracking student engagement with key readings across the life of a module. This has never previously been possible with traditional e-book platforms.
One key difference between e-textbooks and e-books is that e-textbook providers work on a subscription rather than a purchase model. In other words, libraries only retain access to requested e-textbooks for the length of the subscription period, whereas e-books are purchased outright by libraries and access is assured in perpetuity.
Otherwise, the difference between the two is largely semantic. The titles available as e-textbooks tend to be just that – electronic textbooks. Monographs and more scholarly publications that are available electronically are usually referred to simply as e-books.
Generally, only those students registered on the module for which an e-textbook was requested will be able to access the full text of that e-textbook. In other words, e-textbooks are not usually available to all university staff and students via their library catalogue. At Exeter, however, we have opted for the Kortext Complete model, which overcomes this by making Kortext content available to any staff member or student.
Depending on the specific e-textbook provider and model chosen, students are also able to download and retain access to their e-textbooks beyond the completion of the module, and even after they graduate. Due to the Library's choice of subscription model, however, this benefit is not currently available to Exeter students, but ironically would have been possible had we chosen a more restrictive, less open model.
The decision to try Kortext was made in light of the pandemic, which necessitated a shift within the Library to digital content provision and meant that it would be impossible for students to access reading list materials only available in print format. Kortext therefore provided an opportunity to make reading list materials previously only available in print in a library building available digitally to students.
However, due to publisher price gouging of e-books, Kortext also serves as a means to provide better value for money for the University by making a large collection of digital content available to students and staff that may otherwise have been prohibitively expensive.
If you would like to learn more about publisher price gouging during the pandemic, click here to read about campaign by librarians and academics to demand that the UK Government to address the situation, on which BBC News also recently reported.