Textbook costs

Why can't I use my used copy for a Canvas course? Why do only UBC Bookstore copies work?

All purchases are verified and connected to your CWL account for access, which requires you to purchase the material through the UBC Bookstore in order to get a receipt that provides the redemption codes. The cashiers can also swipe your student card, which gives you access. 

But why so much...they're just like other books?

Very good question! Textbooks are different from general books because of the information they contain and the limited market they serve. Students tell us that if they buy textbooks that are well used in the classroom, they feel it’s worth the money. However, if the professor never refers to it, tests from it or assigns homework from it, they feel the book was a waste of money. We agree. Like all other campuses, we have a large team at UBC which helps to build the lists, liaising with all faculty and publishers throughout the year - our competitors like Discount Textbooks, Amazon and Chapter's do not have large teams to build their lists, so their costs may seem to be cheaper. We want to help you with costs, so we offer you used, rental, ebooks, as well as the opportunity to sell your textbooks back to us or to your fellow students via students classified. Check out Buyback FAQ. We are unable to buy international editions because Canadian Copyright law does not allow us to bring in international edition titles (you will need to look out for this if you're looking at other options for buying textbooks).

Want more info? Check out our infographic!

Is it a better deal to rent a book or to purchase it and then sell it back at buyback?

Renting provides a lower out-of-pocket cost to students; however, in some cases it can be more economical to buy a used textbook (when it’s available) and sell it back at buyback. It is important to note that you can’t sell back a rented book at buyback. Rented copies are property of the UBC Bookstore and must be returned to the store, not buyback. You will receive no money back for rented textbooks.

How much will my textbooks cost and what payment options are there?

The average cost for Term 1 Arts or Commerce textbooks is $400.00 and for Science $700.00. If you choose used or rental books, the cost will be much lower. Rental books are up to 55% off the new price!

UBC Bookstore accepts Canadian currency, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Interac (debit cards). Students may use a parent's credit card, however, we require a credit card authorization for every transaction.

What if my textbooks can't be bought back?

Try our student-to-student Used book classifieds. UBC Bookstore works with Books for Africa, a non-profit organization that ships textbooks to Africa. You can donate unwanted books to this program at our front cashiers or to the bin near the upper lobby elevator and we’ll ensure they continue to be of use to students in developing nations.

What have you actually done to address textbook costs? What is the UBC Bookstore doing to lower costs?

We're consistently looking for new options and ways to reduce the costs of textbooks to students.
1. RENTAL BOOKS - rental saves up to 55%. We were one of the first campuses in Canada to introduce rental books. This enables a student to rent used books at up to 55% OFF. This means that if a new book is $100, then a used rental book is $45. If you spend $1000 on new books, then you could rent them all for $450. Our aim is to rent the majority of books in-store that are over $25 (exceptions include custom course packages and ebooks). We are encouraging faculty/instructors to use books for several terms so that we are in a position to rent even more titles next term.

2. CHOICES. As well as rentals and new books, we offer three other choices of books to take into account differing budgets: used (which can save you up to 75% if you can sell them back), ebooks (up to 50% cheaper) and custom course packs.

3. CUSTOM COURSE PACKS: now on average 33% cheaper. Find out why.

4. SELL TEXTBOOKS BACK. We offer you the opportunity to sell your books back to us throughout the year. We try to buy back as many books as we can – if a book is being used for another term on campus you will get up to 50 per cent of the new cost; if the book is not being used the next term, but is still a current edition you will receive a wholesale price. Again, we are encouraging faculty to use books on campus for multiple terms so that we can buy back as many books as possible.

What are the differences between New and Used textbooks

You mean other than the obvious? New textbooks are in an unmarked, undamaged condition. Used textbooks may have markings, may be worn but should have no missing pages. Used textbooks, if available, cost significantly less than new ones and are GST exempt. You’ll find all used books shelved with the new ones in alphabetical order Look for the yellow USED sticker!