Getting Your Textbooks on a Student Budget

Posted by York & U on August 8, 2017

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It’s an exciting time of year for York U students: classes begin in a month, and the countdown to the new school year has begun! Now that you have registered for your courses and completed the #YU Blog’s new student checklist, it’s time to think about sourcing your textbooks without breaking the bank.

When it comes to textbooks, students essentially have five options: buy new, buy used, rent, borrow from your friends or the library or check for open access materials. Each option has its benefits and shortcomings, and you may wish to combine these methods in a way that works for you. Take a look at our guide to getting your textbooks on a student budget (and find out where you can sell them later).
Find your textbooks early to beat the crowds on the first day of term!

Find Your Textbooks on a Student Budget

1. The York U Bookstore

As a York U student, your first stop for finding your textbooks is the campus bookstore. Whether you want to find your reading lists, buy new or used textbooks, rent your books or sell them back after your class is over, the York U Bookstore provides students with a range of cost-effective options. The newly renovated bookstore can be found in York Lanes on the Keele campus or in the basement of York Hall on the Glendon campus.

For most students, buying your new or used books at the campus bookstore is the most convenient way to get everything you need at once. What’s more, the York U Bookstore stocks the specific editions that your professor requires, meaning that you won’t be frantically flipping through your book to find important sections during lecture. You can find your course reading lists by using the York U Bookstore textbook finder. Most reading lists are available on the York U Bookstore website as of August 1, and the bookstore will add more throughout the month. Be sure to find your books early to beat lineups on the first day of school.

The York U Bookstore also offers textbook rental and buyback programs if you do not want to keep your books after the course is over. To rent your textbooks, you’ll need your YU-Card, a credit card and photo ID with your address. The credit card will need to be in your name and have an expiry date that is at least 6 months after the rental return date. If you choose to rent, you simply pay a discounted fee when you pick up the book in-store. As long as you return your book on time, you won’t be charged for the full price of the textbook at the end of the term. You should keep in mind that if you rent, you won’t be able to resell the book later, which could be a more cost-effective option.

The bookstore buys back certain books at the end of each term if there is a demand for those materials in the coming academic session. To get a quote for your old textbooks, check the York U Bookstore website. You can also sign up for buyback alerts to receive an email notification if the bookstore is buying your used textbooks. Finally, the York U Bookstore also hosts a student classifieds webpage where you can post your used books to other student buyers. The York U Bookstore aims to support students’ academic success by providing multiple options for sourcing and selling your textbooks: to learn more about the York U Bookstore or to pay them a visit, take a look at their website.
Check major booksellers and online retailers for inexpensive textbooks

2. Major Booksellers and Online Retailers

If you want to compare prices on different textbook options, it’s a good idea to check various online retailers for the books on your reading list. Many major booksellers have discount codes that you can take advantage of when you’re buying textbooks, so keep an eye out for promotions coming in September.

If you want to buy used books, there are plenty of online retailers that offer a wide selection of discounted texts. Sure, you know Amazon already, but don’t limit your search. You might be able to find a better price on a book from a lesser known used bookseller. is a great resource for comparing textbook prices. It is also a good idea to ask if your professor requires a specific edition of a textbook. If not, you may be able to find an older version of the book for a discounted price.

3. Libraries and Open-Access Materials

We all know that textbooks can get expensive, so why not see if you can get the book for free? Depending on your course subject, a lot of your texts may be open-access materials. Unless you need the supplementary materials in a particular version of Hamlet, you can definitely find the full play online.

Additionally, the York U Libraries may have your textbooks. From the Scott Library on the Keele campus to the Leslie Frost Library on the Glendon campus, the York U library system is an excellent resource to explore. Not only can you see if your textbooks are available to be checked out, but you can also access Course Reserves where your professor may set aside class materials. If you need some help locating your textbooks in the library, the York U libraries run an online chat system called “Ask A Question” in English and French. Students can use this resource to connect with York U librarians who can help you find your textbooks or research materials in the library system. To find a list of all York U library branches, visit the York University Libraries website.
A student gets help from a York U librarian in The Learning Commons

4. eBooks

Another budget-friendly textbook option for students is buying the eBook rather than the print option. While going paperless isn’t for everyone, buying the eBook will be significantly cheaper than purchasing the print copy. If you buy an eBook you can’t resell it later, but it will certainly make your backpack lighter! You might also want to see if the York U library system has the online version of your textbook: you may be able to access the eBook online for free!
A student browses journals at a York U library

5. Try the Classifieds

Finally, Craigslist, Kijiji, and Facebook free-and-for-sale groups aren’t just for furniture: you might be able to find used textbooks on these sites! Hundreds of past students have the books you need lying on their shelves, and they might be trying to sell them to finance this term’s reading list. If you check textbook exchange groups on Facebook, don’t limit yourself to York University pages only. Plenty of students from the University of Toronto or Ryerson University have been assigned the same reading materials as you and might be selling their books in textbook exchange groups specific to their respective schools. Remember how I told you earlier that the York U Bookstore has its own classifieds page where students can post their used books for sale to other York students? You can check this resource to see if another student is selling a textbook that you need this term or use it to sell your books in the future.

Another place where you might be able to find free textbooks? Your friend’s bookshelf! When you get your reading lists, ask your friends what they have and let them know if you have a book to lend.

Buying your textbooks doesn’t have to break the bank. By using these five methods to find new, used, or rented books, students can access the resources they need to achieve academic success.

Do you have any tips for finding textbooks on a budget? Share them in the comments down below or tweet us @YorkUStudents!


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