Free Textbooks for All?

The BC government has announced a new plan to offer free textbooks to BC post-secondary students who are taking the 40 most popular courses (article below).

This raises an interesting question of whether “free textbooks” are the wave of the future. Is this a program that the BC government will grow in the next few years? Is this something the federal government might get involved in?

Perhaps an even bigger question is whether the government SHOULD pay for all university and college textbooks? Is access to course materials for post-secondary education a right or a privilege?

Student accessibility to cheap, discounted textbooks has risen over the past decade. The increased number of textbook marketplaces, textbook rental companies, and student textbook exchanges has lowered the overall price of course materials. However, these materials are still a huge expense to Canadian students. The initiative from the BC government provides yet another indication that the textbook landscape is dramatically changing and that students deserve more affordable course materials at the post-secondary level.

Email us at [email protected] and let us hear your opinion!

Article from the Vancouver Sun:

VICTORIA — The B.C. government is offering some financial relief for post-secondary students who are taking the 40 most popular courses.

Textbooks for those classes will soon be offered to students online for free.

The government says as many as 200,000 students a year could benefit from the changes, with each saving hundreds of dollars or more each year.

It says it will work with post-secondary institutions to implement the open textbook policy, with a plan to have the textbooks online as early as next year.

Advanced Education Minister John Yap says B.C. is leading Canada in delivering free, open textbooks, and joins several other international jurisdictions in taking a leadership role in putting technology to work for students.

Alan Shaver, president of Thompson Rivers University, says offering key textbooks online helps both on-campus learners and those enrolled in distance programs.

(article from the Vancouver Sun, October 16, 2012) is Canada’s leading textbook rental service. Students can save up to 75% off their textbooks by choosing our rental options. We also sell cheap, discount textbooks and buy used books back from students. If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

5 ways students can save on textbooks – Re-post from the Toronto Star’s Moneyville Blog

Below is a re-post of a Toronto Star article that was mentioned in. Enjoy!

5 ways students can save on textbooks

By Krystal Yee | Mon Oct 15 2012

Some post-secondary students might be shocked to learn that textbooks can cost $1,000 or more each year. In fact, the Ontario government suggests budgeting at least $1,000 for books and school supplies, and the University of British Columbia suggests setting aside between $500 and $2000 for textbooks each academic year. Of course, depending on your program, you could end up paying more.

Here are five ways to help you save the next time you have to buy textbooks:

Check out the buyback and rental options:  Some universities are offer rental book services. At the University of British Columbia, students can rent used books at 55 per cent off. The University of Toronto offers a similar service, offering rental books at a 40 to 70 per cent discount.

Use a student network or exchange program: Many universities and colleges offer a website where students list their used books for sale. There are also often Facebook groups or internet forums set up for students as well. Buying from a student instead of the bookstore can save you a ton of money.

Look online: There are plenty of online services that sell used books and offer textbook rentals as well. They offer big discounts, free or cheap shipping, and older editions of the textbooks you’re looking for.

The most popular websites besides AmazonCraigslist, and eBay seem to be

Try international editions: Typically, an international version of your textbook will only differ slightly from the Canadian version. Often the most noticeable difference is that they are in paperback instead of hardcover, and printed in black and white. Sometimes they might be missing additional materials such as workbooks or CDs, but they can often be purchased separately.

Carefully consider the optional books

When I was in university, I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship that covered the cost of my textbooks as well as the supplementary reading material. However, I rarely referred to the books that were not required for each class, and they sat on my bookshelf for the majority of the semester. Looking back at my receipts, my textbooks would have cost me over $1,000 every semester, but the required books only cost an average of $450.

Gangham Style hits Canadian universities!

If you have not seen the smash hit video – Gangham Style – you might have been living under a rock. The video has received over 430+ million views on Youtube.

The artist known as PSY breaking it down in his video, Gangham Style.

Some students at some Canadian universities have created their own versions. Check them out:

Gangham Style – McMaster University Version – Hamilton, Ontario

Click to check out – Gangham Style – McMaster University Version – Hamilton, Ontario

 Gangham Style – York University Version – Toronto, Ontario

Click here to check out – Gangham Style – York University Version – Toronto, Ontario

Rent a book and save big – an article from the Lakehead University Argus (Student Newspaper)

Rent a book and save big

Textbook rentals now available at Lakehead bookstore

By Jon Pukila

Staff Writer

Tired of steep textbook costs on top of skyrocketing tuition fees? Lakehead students now have the option of renting out texts from the university bookstore at more affordable prices.

This new initiative was made possible by a recent partnership between the Lakehead University Alumni Bookstore and, a Toronto-based textbook rental company. First launched in fall 2010, the company offers rentals on selected titles via their website and is currently available at five colleges and universities across Canada.

Cheryl Balacko, bookstore manager, explained how the decision to rent out textbooks came about: “We decided to offer a different option for students. Since textbooks are a very expensive proposition, we wanted to make sure that we offered enough options for the students to make any choices that they wanted.” is continuing to work with the Lakehead bookstore to offer rentals on titles that the company website doesn’t carry. Students currently have the option of renting their books directly from and having them shipped to their home address. Students can also rent selected titles that aren’t available on the website at the LU bookstore. In addition, Lakehead students have the option of renting electronic versions of texts from an iPad kiosk available at the bookstore.

The price difference between new, used, and rental editions of textbooks generally ranges between 50 and 75 percent. For example, a history textbook on Modern Europe is available new for $49.50, used for $37.25, and for rent for $37.93. At the same time, a textbook on neural science is available new for $146.95, used for $110.25, and for rent for $71.63.

Jack Neary, the business manager for, believes that the program represents a “huge value add” in terms of the options available for students. But rental is not always the only option: “I’m not necessarily saying rental is going be the option for every single student. But they can quickly decide: in this case it makes sense to rent, in this case it makes sense to buy the book, and in this case it may make sense to buy the book used,” he explained.

Balacko agrees that the rental option would probably be used less by upper year students, who are more interested in building a professional library.

Nevertheless, Neary notes that has been regarded quite positively over the years by grateful students. “When we get these textbooks back, often times we have little notes in them from the students saying, ‘Thank you guys so much! I really appreciate your customer service.’ . . . So we get that feedback and that helps us keep going and keep growing this business.”

When asked about the response at Lakehead, Balacko said it’s hard to determine given that the school year has not yet begun. But she is optimistic that the program will be a success. “I think the leaning will be: if the student can’t afford to buy a book, this is an affordable option. And if they really need the book, it’s important they have that optio

Rent your textbooks – an article from the Conestoga College Spoke (Student Newspaper) was mentioned in an article in the Conestoga College Spoke. Below is the article:

Rent your textbooks

Textbooks now available for rent at the Conestoga College Bookstore provided by



Lineups for parking passes, lineups in the cafeteria and lineups at the IT Service desk – the first week of school certainly requires a lot of time and patience from students. For this reason, the Conestoga College Bookstore has teamed up with to reduce the amount of frustration and costs that students experience at the beginning of each semester and throughout the year.

As of Aug. 27, students were able to rent used textbooks, not only in-store, but also online through the bookstore’s “Your Bookstore and You” program.

While buying textbooks online is not something new to most Conestoga students, the option to rent is.

Adam Hustwitt, manager of retail and campus services at Conestoga College, understands the annoyance and high costs associated with purchasing textbooks in-store.

“I wanted to provide students with an option,” said Hustwitt.

With this service, students no longer have to endure the painful lineups in the bookstore that seem so unavoidable during the first week of school.

“It’s much better,” said Conestoga College student, Dave Pollock, adding he never wants to wait in those huge lines again.

Although buying textbooks online also eliminates this problem, renting offers other benefits that are appealing to students.

“The integration of textbook renting through the bookstore’s website provides students with the most convenient and cost-effective method of sourcing our textbooks,” said Brandon Luft, CEO of

According to Luft, students are able to save up to 75 per cent by renting their textbooks online.

Online textbook rentals are available 24 hours a day, and “students also receive their order directly to their door, which saves them lots of time as they avoid the long lineups,” said Luft.

According to Hustwitt and Luft, while the textbook rental business is popular in the U.S., it has not yet caught on in Canada.

Since’s affiliation with the bookstore began, there has been positive feedback, not only from students, but from other bookstores hoping to provide the same option to their students.

With such an encouraging response, Luft believes that the textbook rental business will continue to grow as an option to students.

“I think the decision for schools such as Conestoga to take on textbook rental partners like us is a sign that the textbook landscape is changing,” Luft said. “Power is now more in the hands of the students to consider all their options and go with the service that provides the best price and the most user friendly experience.”

While not all textbooks are available to rent as of yet, Hustwitt hopes that by better promoting the bookstore’s Buyback program, more rental options will be available for students in upcoming years.

Students are expected to return their rented textbooks in good condition by the due date shown in their customer account; however, if they want to keep the textbooks they are able to do so by contacting customer service for a textbook rental buyout.

To rent textbooks online, go to, click “rent online” under the “Your Bookstore and You” section, and follow the instructions.