Exploring the University as an e-Textbook Provider of Scholarly Work


  • Frank Rennie Lews Castle College, University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Keith Smyth University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Gareth Davies University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Scott Connor University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Laurence Patterson Edinburgh Napier University




e-textbook, in-house publishing, OER, Kindle, easy-access


Despite the growth in the popularity of e-textbooks, there has yet to be adopted an effective model through which an academic institution can easily re-purpose the scholarly output of its staff to allow global and affordable access to students. This paper describes a research project designed to explore effective processes for the university to become a digital publisher of its own academic output. The project produced two e-textbooks, focusing on using Amazon Kindle for distribution, each book with a free companion website of open access learning resources. The use of the e-texts and the websites were then monitored for evaluation. The publication process was documented and will be made publicly available in the final report on the JISC website. In summary, the pre-publication tasks are almost identical to the production of a conventional printed book, but at publication, everything else changes. The e-textbook system minimises the problems of storage, distribution, pricing, and updating which is faced by the printed book. The companion websites provide a global space with resources complementary to the e-book, which can be updated without the requirement to amend the e-textbook. Several different categories of e-books have been identified, from short handbooks for internal course use, through open-access textbooks, to flagship commercial publications. It is recognised that these e-publications may replace or co-exist with both printed books and companion websites.

Author Biographies

Frank Rennie, Lews Castle College, University of the Highlands and Islands

Frank Rennie is Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland and Assistant Principal at Lews Castle College UHI. His research interests are in new approaches to online education and networking for sustainable rural development, See http://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/frennie and https://uheye.wordpress.com/ or @frankrennie.  Contact frank.rennie@uhi.ac.uk

Keith Smyth, University of the Highlands and Islands

Keith Smyth is Professor of Pedagogy at the University of the Highlands and Islands, where he supports developments in educational practice, scholarship and research. He is particularly interested in how digital technologies can enhance learning and teaching, academic development and educational outreach. He blogs at https://3eeducation.org/ and is on twitter @smythkrs

Gareth Davies, University of the Highlands and Islands

Gareth Davies is based in Lews Castle College UHI in Stornoway and is the Co-ordinator for PGT Tertiary & Higher Education Scheme programmes.  With a background in psychology, his research interests include online education and aspects of health psychology. See https://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/research-enterprise/contact/dr-gareth-davies. Contact Gareth.Davies@uhi.ac.uk

Scott Connor, University of the Highlands and Islands

Scott Connor is an Educational Development Leader at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland. His interests include lifelong learning, pedagogic models and technological implementation and innovation in education. Contact scott.connor@uhi.ac.uk

Laurence Patterson, Edinburgh Napier University

Laurence Patterson is Evaluator on the e-tips project, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and former Programme Leader and Lecturer in Education at Edinburgh Napier University. His interests lie in technology-enhanced learning, publishing and assessment. See www.linkedin.com/in/laurence-patterson or www.twitter.com/digitalpatter. Contact l.patterson@napier.ac.uk


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Original Research