e-textbooks in their most basic form are screen-rendered copies of print textbooks, but there are many different models of e-textbooks.
The simplest example of an e-text is a pdf version of a print text, delivering static text and no interactive learning.
More complex examples of e-texts include online text enhanced by interactive learning activities and online assessment such as quizzes.
Temple Libraries does not routinely collect and make available most commercial e-textbooks.
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching materials which are publicly available online, including textbooks, lecture notes, assignments, tests, audio, video and animation.
Openstax and Open Textbook Library are examples of OER collections. The Library’s Discovering Open Educational Resources (OER) provides subject-based links to many more OERs, along with information about open and creative commons licenses.
Library e-books are designed to be “lent” to users. They are made available for a specified period of time, and access to them will be terminated once the loan period has been reached. While some library e-books can be used by an unlimited number of users at the same time, some have license restrictions so that they can only be used one person at a time, or up to three people.
e-textbooks are usually designed to be sold to, and used by, an individual student. The license attached to an e-textbook usually prohibits on-sale or sharing of the text. Most e-textbook publishers do not make their e-text titles available to libraries for e-lending.
There is no single answer to this question. You may be able to prescribe a library e-book as a course text, if the license permits unlimited simultaneous access. If the license is restricted, for example limited to 1 - 3 simultaneous users, it is not suitable as a course text.
If you want to use an e-textbook for your course here are some options:
See Discovering Open Educational Resources (OER) and contact the Library to discuss the best options for your course.