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Online Library Resources & Services

For Students - Accessing Textbooks

If you usually access readings required for your course by borrowing from our Reserves Collection:




Although the library has many ebooks, unfortunately for most textbooks, the library will NOT have an e-book version. However, you can do a quick search on OneSearch to check.

NYPL logoThe New York Public Library might have an ebook, or a book that you can pick up through their grab-and-go service. They are NOT likely to have many college textbooks, but they may have other kinds of books (like novels or non-fiction books written for the general public.)



Internet Archive logoFor non-textbook books, the Internet Archive might have an ebook. Although access is free, there may be a waitlist. CLICK HERE for more info on using Internet Archive






Buy or rent


BE CAREFUL! There are many websites out there claiming to sell or rent textbooks cheaply. We looked at 52 different websites and eliminated sites that seemed misleading, poorly organized, or terribly reviewed. But we cannot promise that you will have a good experience with any specific business, so as you look for cheaper textbooks online, please do your research before you take a chance on a too-good-to-be-true price!


Sites like Trust Pilot, Reseller Ratings, and Sitejabber are places where people review their experience with retail websites. Of course, you should also be a skeptical reader of reviews; people are more likely to write a review to complain, and it is always possible that some reviews are false ones, either to promote one’s own site or to detract from a competitor’s. Still, if there are a lot of reviews and you can see patterns in the kinds of good or bad things described, that can give you a rough idea of what to expect, and of the website’s reputation.

Direct sellers/lenders : companies that sell or rent directly to you


Hostos bookstore logoAkademos (Hostos Bookstore) sells new and used books through the mail and rents ebooks. (Except for their “marketplace”, which is a platform, see below.) 





Booksrun logoBooksrun sells and rents used books through the mail and rents ebooks (please note that this site adds items to your cart if you click on them for more information – so look very closely at your cart before you hit “pay”).


Textbook solutions logoTextbook Solutions rents used books through the mail. 


ecampus logoEcampus sells used and new books and rents physical books (they rent ebooks by using Vital Source). They also have a “marketplace” platform (see below)




Vital source logoVital Source rents and sells ebooks that you read on your computer or device.





Red Shelf logo

RedShelf rents and sells ebooks that you read on your computer or device.


Platforms: websites where many different sellers come to sell

Platforms are sites like ebay – it’s not the company ebay selling to you, but an independent seller who just uses ebay as a place to list their items. These sellers could be anyone at all who creates an account and a username.


Because sellers could be anyone, the individual seller's reputation matters even more than that of the website. Platforms that show you specific reviews of sellers give you better information than those that just show 1-5 stars. 


Tip: if the username sounds like it's an actual bookstore, it might be (local stores also sell things online). You might want to go directly to the bookstore’s website instead - if they show contact info like a phone number and email, it may be easier to reach them if there's a problem.


Valore books logoValorebooks is well organized, has a good reputation, and is very good about showing you seller reviews (look under "Item Details" to see the "provider"), but it may not have as many textbooks as the others below.


alibris logoAlibris has a lot of textbooks, but shows less information about their sellers, so really look to see who is selling you the book.


ecampus logoEcampus has a marketplace platform in addition to selling books directly. They have a lot of textbooks, but they do not explain their 1-5 star ratings for sellers or allow you to see actual feedback.



hostos bookstore logoHostos Bookstore (run by the company Akademos, also called also has a “marketplace” option for some books that is a platform. They show only a 1-5 star system that they do not explain; you can see reviews for some sellers but not others, for no apparent reason.

Price comparison websites

There are a lot of websites that do not sell books directly, but allow you to compare prices. They are not hard to set up and allow their owners to profit (they get money when people click on links through their site) without having to do work like actually sending or receiving books.

These websites are not all the same quality - some say they put the best prices up top, but a closer look shows that this is not true. Some are "affiliates" of Amazon, so Amazon results will always be prominent no matter what. Some have slow search engines, and many are confusing in their display of choices. 

textbook rentals is a good price comparison website (there are many other sites with similar names). They seem to be better for physical books, used and new, than for ebooks.



Publishers' websites

These are only helpful for the textbooks that they publish themselves, but sometimes they have a good price.



For Faculty - Improving Students' Access to Textbook Materials

Textbook Solutions – Supporting Better Student Access to Course Materials


As many faculty are aware, a lot of Hostos students have difficulty accessing course materials due to the high cost of many commercial textbooks. During the COVID-19 emergency, they lost access to a lifeline—the Hostos Library’s Reserve Textbook Collection. When the Library is able to safely re-open, we will not be able to offer the short-term loans of reserve textbooks because of the time needed to quarantine between check-outs.

Some Ways the Hostos Library Can Help:

ZTC/OER Textbooks

For several years Hostos faculty have been adopting, or sometimes even developing new "Zero Textbook Cost" (ZTC) or "Open Educational Resources" (OER) textbooks. These ZTC/OER textbooks are all electronically available and free to Hostos students. So far, we have published 37 OERs created or adopted by Hostos faculty, from Allied Health to the Visual & Performing Arts Performing Arts.

In recent years faculty from across the nation have been busy writing or curating quality ZTC/OER textbooks, many of them developed for student populations from community colleges. I have developed an online guide with some places to start searching for OER materials.

Electronic E-books

the Hostos Library provides access to about 700-thousand e-books. Many of these are available to an unlimited number of users at a time, making them great candidates for use in a course. You can begin exploring e-books with a keyword search in OneSearch (be sure to use the "Full Text Online" and "Books" filters). The library can help you decode the subscription type to determine availability for course use.

Other Materials

You can use OneSearch or access individual library databases to discover articles, book chapters, videos, reports, and other kinds of materials that are available free to Hostos students via subscription.

Maximizing Access to Your Commercial Textbook

If you will continue to use your commercial textbook, you can scan individual chapters that will be required for your course, and upload these to Blackboard for your students. NOTE: you may upload only one chapter at a time, and take down the previous chapter before posting a new reading.

  • Check out the Library's Reserve Scanning Project - set up to help fill a need during the COVID-19 emergency, since physical library books are not available.

For More Information and Help:

If you need support identifying, collecting, or provide access to any of these textbook alternatives, please email Linda Miles (, or reach out to the library faculty member designated as liaison to your discipline.

Details on using RedShelf

You must set up a free account with your Hostos email to rent or buy books from RedShelf. 

RedShelf create an account


When you fill in the information, use your Hostos email address and find Hostos in the list of colleges:

How to make a RedShelf account 


They will send you a confirmation email with a "VERIFY ACCOUNT" LINK you must click.

Please note - during the Spring of 2020, RedShelf was offering free access to textbooks - there will NOT be free access for Fall 2020, but it is still worth checking and comparing prices. 

Details on using Vital Source

You must set up a free account with your Hostos email to rent or buy books from VitalSource

Go to: and sign up for an account.

use Hostos email to create account

For more information, see this FAQ on the VitalSource website.

Please note: in Spring 2020, Vital Source offered free access to textbooks. Access will NOT be free in Fall 2020, but if you need to buy the book, it is worth checking and comparing prices. 

Details on using Internet Archive

You must set up a free account to read books from the Internet Archive. You can borrow up to 10 books at a time from them, most of them for 14 days (some of the books have shorter loan periods). 

Internet Archive is free, but often there are waitlists to borrow books.

For more questions see their FAQ.

If you are not logged in, you will not be able to see all the pages of your book. You must make an account and log in to read the whole book. 

When you try to borrow a book, you will see this screen - click on "create an account"

Internet Archive login screen

You can use any email address to make an account. 

internet archive sign-up

You will receive a confirmation email--you must click on the link in order to finish setting up your account:

verification email with link