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CourseSmart, a privately held company headquartered in San Mateo, California, was a provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials. CourseSmart was founded in 2007 by publishers in higher education including Bedford, Cengage Learning, Freeman & Worth Publishing Group (Macmillan), McGraw-Hill Education, John Wiley & Sons, and Pearson.[1]

The CourseSmart catalog included more than 40,000 eTextbooks, representing 90% of the core textbooks currently in use in North American Higher Education, as well as an online catalog of eResources and other digital course materials. Available in online or offline formats, CourseSmart eTextbooks provide savings off the price of new print textbooks and gives students, faculty, partners, and institutions a new way to find and access course materials.[2] Students and instructors have anytime, anywhere access to their required course materials from any Web browser and on many mobile devices (including Android; the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch; Microsoft Windows; and other Web-enabled devices).[3]

In August 2009, CourseSmart was the first in the industry to develop and launch an iPhone app,[4] followed by the industry’s first app for the iPad, which launched in the fall of 2010.[5] Additionally in April 2011, CourseSmart launched the first eTextbook app for Android devices.[6] CourseSmart provides access to its eTextbooks from any computer or Web-enabled device.[7]

According to a 2011 comparison from Campusbooks, CourseSmart was found to have 80% of the 1,000 most popular textbooks for fall 2011 available – the highest percentage when compared to six other leading providers.[8] CourseSmart is also certified by TRUSTe, an Internet privacy service provider.[9]



  • CourseSmart-hosted content can only be printed 10 pages at a time. The total number of pages that can be printed and/or copied/pasted is limited to 150% of the total number of pages in the eBook.
  • Access to eBooks is limited to a specific duration of time, normally six months, depending on the eBook, and an eBook can be accessed offline by only a single device at a time.[10]
  • Users may check out a maximum of five e-Textbooks for offline access at any given time.[11]

VitalSource BookshelfEdit

In 1Q 2014, VitalSource Technologies, Inc. (an Ingram Content Group company) acquired CourseSmart.[12][13] Initially, VitalSource eTextbooks could not be read on the CourseSmart eTextbooks platform and vice versa, and both platforms operated separately with no crossover. However, in November 2015, CourseSmart users were directed to download their eTextbooks via the VitalSource Bookshelf platform and were advised that some of their CourseSmart eTextbooks, along with their associated highlights and notes, would be migrated to Bookshelf. Until that happened, CourseSmart Mobile Reader users were required to maintain both the CourseSmart Mobile Reader and Bookshelf apps on their devices, or to read their books in their browsers.[14]

Not all CourseSmart texts were migrated to VitalSource Bookshelf. As VitalSource explains: "There are some titles that the publisher has decided are not available. You may still request these, but the publisher may decide not to let you have this, or may require further information from you in order to allow. This is up to the publisher, and you should contact your rep if you have questions about this."[15]

VitalSource Bookshelf, unlike CourseSmart: allows users to download eTextbooks to multiple devices at any given time (i.e., two computers and two mobile devices).[16] Also unlike the CourseSmart Mobile Reader, which provided the option to cache eTextbooks for offine reading via Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browser,[17] Bookshelf does not give users an option to read eTextbooks offline via their browser.


  1. ^ "Overview". CourseSmart.
  2. ^ "CourseSmart Expands Executive Team to Increase Institutional and Distribution Partnerships and Establish a Global Presence". Reuters. May 25, 2011.
  3. ^ "Hot New Market: Electronic Textbooks". Inc.
  4. ^ "eTextbooks for College Students Now Available on App Store". PR Newswire.
  5. ^ "Downloads for CourseSmart's New 'eTextbooks for the iPad' App Increase More than Fivefold". Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
  6. ^ "CourseSmart Launches E-Textbook App for Android". Campus Technology. April 20, 2011.
  7. ^ "Hot New Market: Electronic Textbooks". Inc.
  8. ^ "Exclusive: What Electronic Textbook Provider Has The Biggest Library?". Mashable. August 17, 2011.
  9. ^ "CourseSmart Brings Textbooks to Android". Archived from the original on 2011-08-31. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
  10. ^ "Terms of Service". CourseSmart.
  11. ^ "Learn More". CourseSmart. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  12. ^ "Ingram Buys CourseSmart Mar 03, 2014". Publishers Weekly. March 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  13. ^ Kelly, Rhea (March 3, 2014). "Vital Source Acquires CourseSmart". Campus Technology. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  14. ^ "Bookshelf Support: Getting Started: Legal". VitalSource. Retrieved January 2016. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ "Migrated CourseSmart Instructors FAQ". VitalSource. Retrieved January 2016. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  16. ^ "Settings>>Manage devices: VitalSource Bookshelf Application allows you to have 2 computers and 2 mobile devices activated at any given time". Retrieved January 3, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Learn More". CourseSmart. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2015.

External linksEdit