Wait for e-Books Unfair, Student Says

By Kathryn Burnham, Times Colonist, July 3, 2011

Miles Motture, on the University of Victoria campus, has complained to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Long lines at the bookstore is usually all the waiting most students have to do before getting their textbooks. But for those with sight problems, the
wait is even longer, and that is discriminatory, according to Miles Motture.

That is why the University of Victoria law student has filed a complaint against the university and six textbook publishers with the B.C. Human
Rights Tribunal.

“It’s a frustrating process,” Motture said. “Other students don’t even have to go through the process of asking, never mind asking and then getting
unacceptable delays.”

For students to get an electronic copy of a textbook, they must first purchase the hardcopy and submit their booklist to the university.

The university places a request for the alternate-format book to the publisher once the student has given them a booklist for all their courses.
It may take up to eight weeks to get the book in the right electronic format, UVic said.

“If a student registers with the resource centre, gives enough lead time, and does their piece, then generally the resource centre has the ability to
get the materials by the time they are needed,” said Kim Hart Wensley,
associate vice-president at UVic.

The electronic copy is typically available within a few days of the publisher receiving a request for the book – whatever time it takes for the
CD-ROM to be burned and couriered to the school, says textbook publisher LexisNexis.

Hart Wensley said there can be some delay if a student switches courses, the professor does not have the booklist available or if an electronic copy of
the book is unavailable and needs to be created from a hardcopy.

Motture, 46, is partially sighted, and says the delay affects his ability to tackle the large reading load that comes with law school. Delays in
acquiring the booklist have often slowed him down, which is why the law faculty is also named in the complaint, he said.

Hart Wensley said there are occasional complaints about the delays, but said the university is working hard to improve its processes for students who
need alternate-format books. “I appreciate that there is a finite amount of time in a term,” she said.

There are typically fewer than 100 students in a given year requiring an electronic copy of their books, Hart Wensley said.

What irks Motture further, he said, is that e-books are a rising trend, and many textbook companies make other books available in electronic format.
Motture said he wishes the textbook side of the industry would catch on to the electronic craze a bit quicker.

“It’d be different if this was some crazy thing that was really difficult for the publisher to solve, but obviously it’s not. Electronic books are
readily available. People download gazillions of them every day,” said Motture.

LexisNexis says it has three e-books available and plans to have another four ready for the end of 2011. “Over time, we’ll be providing an increasing
number of our print publications in e-book format,” said communications manager Tracy Smith via email.

kburnham@timescolonist.com

The Victoria Times Colonist

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