The Textbook Dilemma


By: Natalie Michael


I would like to think that I’ve learned a few things from my time at U of T. However, a lot of the things I’ve learned were not taught in lecture halls. As a wise old woman in my fourth year, the overwhelming journey of dealing with things like breadth requirements, Subject POSt Enrolment and the Co-Curricular Record is finally reaching an end. A remaining source of headaches, however, is coming up with the best process for buying and selling textbooks.

The process started in my first year as I made a trip to the U of T bookstore (though now that I think about it, I probably made about four trips there because it was so overwhelming). I naively ended up buying about six books and spent close to $550. I justified the purchase with the optimistic thought that I would be able to sell them after I finished the courses. Sadly, a majority of professors either change the required texts or editions the year after. In fact, my professor recently informed my class that authors are commonly forced to change a few minor details to publish newer editions in order to make more money. Fortunately, I have learned ways around this textbook dilemma, and I am here to convince you of the alternative options. Not only did my purchases take a turn—as I sold my Rotman texts for philosophy books—but I have managed to master the art of minimal money-spending when shopping for textbooks.

Here are some alternative ways to acquire textbooks that may lead you to reconsider overspending at the U of T Bookstore.

Facebook Groups

U of T Textbook Exchange

U of T Free and For Sale

There are a vast amount of Facebook pages where you can buy and sell your textbooks. Since they’re used, you can buy them for up to half the original price, and if you keep them in good condition, resell them for the same. With a simple direct message you can set a price and organise a place to make an exchange on or off campus.


(Tusbe, Bookro, or Amazon dot-coms)

What’s more, if you’re looking to buy or sell your textbooks there are so many student websites to choose from! Tusbe, Toronto University Student’s Book Exchange, is one of my favourites. You create a free account and have access to almost every textbook ever made. However, if you’re a fan of the new textbook feel, Amazon sells textbooks for a fraction of the price, and with student Prime it can arrive as soon as the next day.

E-books and Library Loans

Looking to spend no money at all? The Library Genesis online database contains more than 2,000,000 files of free PDFs available for download. Search for your textbook there and download a copy to read on your electronic device. Additionally, many classes at U of T have a copy of textbooks for loan in a library on campus. Speak to your professor and find out where you can borrow these textbooks for free!

If you’re dying to get to the bookstore to get a new copy of your favourite textbook, just cross the road to the Discount Textbooks Store, located at 229 College Street. Just two minutes from the money-sucking bookstore is a sketchy-looking underground shop that sells the same textbooks for a fraction of the price!

Not only are textbooks a waste of money, they’re hundreds of pages of deforestation. Fortunately, the university has started introducing programs that reduce the amount of textbooks students have to purchase.The Green Courses program aims to reduce paper consumption on campus. A few of my professors have been recognized for their participation, so they have uploaded all the relevant readings to Blackboard and informed us not to buy a textbook. I think this is a great idea to keep costs down (oh, and for the environment too)! Perhaps in the near future more professors will participate in this movement. But until then, know that you’re not alone and that there are many more options besides spending hundreds of dollars every year!

This article was originally published on our old website at