Saving Serious Cash on Textbooks

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s the start of semester. Your tuition is paid, you’ve got your spiffy new backpack all loaded up with crisp, unblemished notebooks, and you’ve finally figured out where the heck that lecture hall is you’re due to be in at 11:30 on the dot. You’re in good shape, right?

But then it hits you – ‘What’s the textbook for this class?’ Your eyes comb the syllabus, pleading to see those beautiful words No Textbook Required… But they never come. In their place, a very long, very complicated title followed by an extensive list of authors. You know the game is already over for you. The cost: $150 from the bookstore. Best case scenario: There go your plans for this weekend. Worst case: You have a few loonies in your couch you can fish out to grab some candles from Dollarama after Saint John Energy shuts your lights off.

It’s unacceptable that in 2017 students like you are still cringing at the thought of buying textbooks because the cost is so prohibitive. It’s unacceptable that in 2018 students like you are having to go into debt to afford the books you are required to buy.

Ever your knights in shining armour, The Baron is here with your comprehensive Textbook resource directory.

  •      Amazon: Believe it or not, Amazon used to exclusively sell books once upon a time. And while it’s now changed quite a bit, it still has a lot of textbooks available both through their Prime service, and the third party marketplace (which still has buyer protection, by the way). EXAMPLE: The textbook for the popular MATH1001 course is available for $159.00 through the cheapest Bookstore option, or only $55.00 through Amazon. Win!

  •      AbeBooks: A little known online book retailer that’s modeled after the earlier Amazon, Abebooks is a marketplace of different sellers offering millions of books, many of which ship for free. The prices are automatically set to USD, but the website does provide a currency converter, and all international sellers ship to Canada with no customs fees and different shipping options. EXAMPLE: The textbook for SOCI3104 is available through the Bookstore for $145.00, but is available for $70.00 on Abebooks!

  •      BookMob: Three cheers for Canadian companies! BookMob was developed to help students get a nice cut on their textbook bill, and offers high-quality used books with an Amazon pricematch guarantee, free shipping on orders over $150, and a FREE 30 day money back return policy. EXAMPLE: The textbook for HIST3301 is available through the Bookstore for $59.60 through the cheapest option, or only $13.58 if rented through BookMob.

  •      VitalSource: If you’re a tech-savvy lad, and don’t mind having your textbook at your mouseclick instead of at your fingertips, then VitalSource is the place for you! The premier e-Textbook internet destination, it offers millions of textbooks at a discount due to their electronic status. EXAMPLE: The textbook for FR1304 is available through the Bookstore for $128.00 through the cheapest option, while VitalSource has got your back for only $64.99 for a full semester rental!

  •      Google Play: Yes, you read that right. Rejoice, Android users, because Google Play has recently stepped in to the Textbook arena. Of course, all of the offerings are electronic, but that just makes them that much cheaper. EXAMPLE: The textbook for NURS1011 is available through the bookstore at $189.00, but only $81.00 through Google Play! Save some serious coin, future nurses!

  •      ScorpioBookstore: An Ontario-based used textbook provider, ScorpioBookstore is rumored to have some crazy-good deals. Their online catalogue is a work in progress, and currently does not have comprehensive pricing available. But you can still search for your book to see if they have it in stock, and then call, text, or email them to have them price it out for you! You can even send them pictures or lists of the books you are looking for, and they will compile a total package to make things easier.

While it might be a bit too late to save money this semester, keep these sites bookmarked for the Winter term so you can save some money. Protip: Have your books ordered about two weeks before the start of classes. While most Canadian sellers can have your books to you within a few days, giving yourself extra time will ensure that you can get the best deal if it’s a bit further away.

Psst… The UNBSJ Student Representative Council is inviting you to fill out their Textbroke form, and by letting them know how much you spent on textbooks, they’ll be able to advocate better on your behalf to reduce prices and change policies. Check it out!

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.