The ultimate guide to buying UBC textbooks

photo Stephanie Xu / The Ubyssey

You’re still riding the adrenaline rush that was Imagine Day, you got into all your classes and for once, you don’t have a four-hour break. Everything seems to be going great until you hit the UBC Bookstore. You realize $29.95 here and $169.95 there adds up to a whopping $600.00 and you won’t be able to eat for weeks. To counter the shock of ever escalating textbook prices, we have brought you the UBC student’s guide to buying textbooks!

Don't jump the gun

By no means do you have to buy your textbooks on the first day of classes — or the second day... or the third day. You can return them, but some textbooks are non-refundable. A lot of professors tend to give out book lists that don’t match your UBC Bookstore list, so you might benefit from waiting.

Photo via Twitter

There is nothing wrong with buying used

Used books aren’t glamorous. They don’t smell like the inside of Indigo and their pages aren’t crispy, white and unmarred. However, they still do their job. Give used books a chance. They won’t let you down. The UBC Bookstore has a great option which lets students choose if they would prefer a used substitute when selecting books online for a discounted price, so take advantage of these copies as they are limited.

Craigslist is your friend

So are Kijiji and Facebook. Hundreds of students like yourself are in possession of textbooks from previous years, so take advantage of the great deals they’re offering. Most books will be in mint or excellent condition, but will be heavily discounted. Students from other colleges and universities will also be offering the books you need, so don’t limit yourself just to the “UBC Textbook 4 sale” group. Branch out and you’ll save even more.

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Craigslist is your friend, part two

Sell your books. They’re just collecting dust on a shelf and that one on the coffee table is making a great, but expensive, coaster. Advertise on Craigslist, Facebook, Kijiji, etc. and meet up with people on campus or in other easily accessible public places. Pro Tip: For the most effective resale, list the book’s title, author, edition, ISBN number and if you have it, the class and professor. 

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Amazon.ca is awesome

Amazon is one of the largest booksellers in the world. They advertise their textbooks up to 90 per cent off, which is actually true. Brand new books are significantly cheaper and used books are almost free. Students can get the majority of required novels for English classes for as little as $0.01 used with a small shipping fee usually of under $5. That’s under $5.01 for a book!

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Don’t rent if you don’t have to

Rentals are always tempting. It’s cheaper to rent a textbook than to buy one outright, especially if the cost of buying is over $100. However, there is no way to get your money back through re-sale or buy-back. Books are an investment and through renting, you usually don’t get a return on that investment.

eBooks are the future

Going paperless is not for everyone, but an eBook will save you money and backpack space. Google Play Books advertises that their digital copies are up to 80 per cent off of print prices. The only downside of digital copies means that, like renting, there’s no chance for re-sale.

The best textbooks in life are free

Yes, you heard it here first — free. Don’t be afraid to Google the text you’re looking for because chances are the entirety of Hamlet has been PDF’d. This goes for many other open source texts, classics and other textbooks. Borrowing your friends' books is also a great resource — just make sure you return them when you’re done.

Always ask your profs

A lot of professors nowadays don’t even require textbooks at all, but some do and will exclusively teach from them. Always ensure you’re getting the materials you need, but never be afraid to ask if something doesn’t seem right.

Photo via Slugbooks.com

Take these suggestions with a grain of salt

These tips don’t apply to every class and every professor. Some profs write their own textbooks, while some require a magical, special edition that is exclusively sold at the UBC Bookstore. Some profs will also require you to have the exact same pagination as them, meaning it’s probably some obscure copy that was only produced five years ago. Find what books work for you and what won’t.

Happy studying!

Editors Note: since this article has been published, we have been made aware that the coupon code "10TEXT" gets you 10 per cent off of textbooks on Amazon.