Student Textbook Information

You will find the course materials you need for your classes in your schedule in Catalyst. If you have special needs, please see the Accessibility Network webpage for support. If you would like support in learning effective reading, you can contact the Learning Commons, the Blue Ash Learning Center, or the Clermont Learning Center.

You have four main ways to obtain affordable course materials via the university:

  • IncludED® materials
  • Purchase new or used
  • Rent
  • Borrow

In addition, you should consider when you may prefer digital or print copies of your textbooks.

IncludED Materials

Some materials may be provided as part of special course fees on your Bursar bill. These are denoted in the UC Bookstores online and Catalyst by the IncludED logo. UC has negotiated below competitive market rates on these materials and arranged for them to be available to students in their Blackboard courses.

Although students may opt-out of the IncludED program, we strongly urge you to consider the value of the IncludED program:

  • Materials are available at a low cost
  • The correct materials and editions are provided
  • The cost is included in your tuition or fees, instead of as a separate cost
  • Materials are available the first day of class


You can purchase a text or course material(s). The UC Bookstores guarantee a price-match.
Considerations when purchasing a print text could include:

  • You can write and highlight in a purchased book
  • The book (and your notes in it) is available after the course is over
  • You may be able to buy a text that is either new or usedTip: Used texts often cost less than new texts. 
  • You may be able to sell your new book at the end of the semester for up to 50% of the new price (caution: there is no guarantee that the UC Bookstores will be able to buy your book back at the end of the semester!)
  • Approximately 40% of titles are currently available as UC SmartBooks, and the list growing every semester.
  • Some course materials are sold as bundles, and may include a low-cost 8 1/2” x 11” print version.
  • For some digital materials, you will receive an access code.


Considerations when renting a text could include:

  • Usually, rental has a lower cost than purchasing (not necessarily true if book is used for multiple semesters or if you are able to resell your purchased book)
  • There are deadlines for returning your textbook at the end of the semester
  • UC students can rent textbooks from the UC Bookstores. You must register to use this service. The web site has more information about registering and using the service. You can rent most textbooks in either print or digital form. 


As a research library, our collections focus on the diverse and long-term research needs of our users. Textbooks and other course materials required for individual classes generally are not purchased for the library collection. However, some UC Libraries do buy textbooks.

Considerations when borrowing a text could include:

  • You cannot write or highlight in a borrowed book
  • Check the deadline for returning your book to the library. It may not be able to be borrowed for the entire semester.

To determine if your textbooks are available:

  1. Check the University of Cincinnati Libraries' Library Catalog 
  2. Check University of Cincinnati Libraries' Reserves to see if your professor placed a copy on reserve at the library
  3. If UC doesn't have a copy of your book, then check the OhioLINK catalog

Print vs. Digital


Print texts are the more traditional version of written texts. These are physical books, bound or unbound, that contain the written content of the text. There are several places to purchase print texts, in both new and used form. Students can purchase or rent texts (see options above).


A digital text, often referred to as an etext or an ebook, is an electronic version of a written text. Digital materials can be purchased and/or rented based on the publisher agreement. Although many of your etextbooks are available on the UC SmartBooks platform, some use other platforms (formats).


UC SmartBooks is the University of Cincinnati’s standard e-reader for electronic course materials. UC SmartBooks provides students with the ability to access course materials across multiple devices, without lugging a stack of books or needing access to the internet. Additionally, students can quickly search for information in one book or across all of the books on their virtual bookshelf inside the Bookshelf platform.

UC SmartBooks also keeps track of any notes, highlighted information, or any other annotations made in your materials, across all devices. The Bookshelf platform also allows students to share notes between peers, tutors, and faculty, and is streamlined through the sharing of highlights via categories, referred to as highlighters. Finally, digital textbooks can save students money over the cost of a traditional textbook.

Your textbooks accessed through SmartBooks are available on multiple devices (so you can use your computer, tablet, and smartphone, for example, to read and annotate your materials).We offer a range of free help for students using UC SmartBooks including self-help knowledge base articles and a self-study guide called Introduction to Reading an eBook: Strategies for Success. In addition, you may be interested in downloading the free Bookshelf Online Introductory Course.

Digital materials available through UC SmartBooks are typically available in perpetuity, however you need to read the purchase agreement as some may be available for only 180 days.

Digital Materials Benefits

  • Financial savings - eBooks cost 40% - 80% less than new printed books
  • Enhanced search features, such as highlighting, note taking and limited printing
  • Potentially, these may include interactive elements missing from print books
  • Potentially, they provide additional study aids
  • Environmentally friendly impacts – save paper
  • Some materials are updated for free by the publisher as updates become available
  • With UC SmartBooks you can export your notes and, in most cases, the highlighted portions of text associated with your notes.

Factors to consider

  • Some people prefer to read paper-based rather than screen-based texts 
  • Often, digital materials have limits on printing (generally if you plan to print a large portion of the book, it is just as cost effective to buy a loose leave print of the book in addition to the digital copy)
  • Ebooks cannot be sold back at the end of the term
  • Ebooks that you ‘buy’ are typically available for a limited time – you lose access after a specified time. Read the purchase terms closely to determine how long you have access. Most UC SmartBooks are available in perpetuity, however some expire after 120 days.
  • UC SmartBooks require an initial internet connection to download books to each device you use, but not an ongoing connection to read them.
  • In some cases, you should back-up your files so you do not lose the book if your computer crashes.
  • UC SmartBooks are backed up each time you connect back to Bookshelf, minimizing the risk of data loss.
  • UC SmartBooks are only available at UC Bookstores. A digital text purchased elsewhere will potentially not have the same features as UC SmartBooks.