E-Text Initiative – What You Need to Know, Part I

Despite the controversy over AU’s planned move to e-texts (see here and here for Voice coverage), the University has already begun phase 1 of the e-text initiative.

Unfortunately, differing expectations, scheduling changes, and communication issues have created some confusion among students wondering whether and how they’ll be affected by the initiative this semester.

In order to clear up student confusion, over the next few weeks we’ll address some of the questions and issues that have arisen since the first phase of the e-text initiative was rolled out.


One of the first questions students have is whether they’ll need to purchase an e-reader in order to access texts. While e-texts will be accessible via laptop or desktop computer, not all e-readers or other electronic devices will work with the current form of e-texts. AUSU strongly advises that students ?hold off on the purchase of a device to read eTexts at AU,? noting that ?[traditional] eBook readers (Kobo, Kindle, Nook, etc.) are NOT supported at this time. Only devices with full web functionality will work, such as the iPad or the Kindle Fire (a completely different device from the regular Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite).?

Additionally, only certain courses are included in phase 1 of the initiative, so you may not end up using e-texts for quite some time. AU’s e-text initiative website provides a list of all courses that have transitioned to e-texts as of this month (September 2013). You can also view which courses make the switch to e-texts in October and November. Information on phase 2 of the rollout is currently unavailable.

Finally, note that even if a listed course has transitioned to e-texts, e-books may not yet be available for that course. AUSU has been informed that ?[many] courses will continue to ship with hard copy books as the project is phased in: AU will also be using up stockpiles of books which may further delay the transition to etexts for some courses.? This means that even if a course is included in phase 1, it may continue to use physical textbooks until the University’s stock is depleted. The time frame will vary depending on the course enrolment and the size of the stock; be sure to check a particular course’s syllabus to determine whether it has fully transitioned to e-texts.

The e-text initiative is new and still in its first phase, so be aware that changes may occur. As the initiative is implemented across the University, keep following AU’s official e-text website in order to stay informed of changes or other important information.