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The Textbook Hunt: Where, When, and How to Look


A new school year has started, meaning new friends, new classes and of course, new textbooks. We all know how expensive textbooks can be at the bookstore and what a hassle it can be to find books second hand. Here are a few tips to navigate the chaos that is ‘The Textbook Hunt.’

Where to look:

The first stop is obviously the McGill Bookstore. It will definitely have the textbook you need, but maybe not at the price that you want. This is where the McGill Textbook Exchange Group on Facebook and the McGill Classified Ads come in. Both of these services have McGill students selling used books (often in great condition) and at affordable prices. Another great store to check out is the Paragraphe Bookstore on Avenue McGill College and the The Word Bookstore on Milton.

If you’re too tired to walk around and actively search for your books or you just can’t be bothered to do it old school, you could always check Amazon Canada. Amazon recently started offering a free 6-month Prime trial for university students, so you can get free two-day shipping, which is perfect because you don’t have the time to wait 1-2 weeks for your textbooks to arrive.

An alternative to buying textbooks would be to rent textbooks from either the McGill Bookstore (which I would recommend) or another textbook renting service.

Things to remember:

I know just as well as anyone that buying textbooks can be tricky and stressful if you’re not buying everything from the bookstore, but here are some things to remember.

Firstly, always make sure you’re buying the right textbook – this includes checking the edition and/or asking your professor if other editions are acceptable. Textbooks for courses do change sometimes and there’s nothing worse than buying a book only to find out after that you can’t use it for your class.

Second, ask for a picture of the book you’re buying (especially if you’re buying it second hand) – you are not obligated to buy the book even though it may feel like you are. If the book is falling apart and you’re not okay with that, you can say you don’t want to buy the book.

Thirdly, if you’re not opposed to it – buy the e-book or e-text, they’re usually slightly cheaper and you don’t have to lug around a textbook everywhere.

Before you all go off to get the best deals you can during ‘The Textbook Hunt,’ remember to take a breath and enjoy the fresh summer air. It’s still nice out and you’ve still got time to get everything together. Who knows, maybe next year, there’ll be an app for this; but until then good luck!


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Fanta is a third year Economics student at McGill, who minors in German Literature and Political Science. She loves all things to do with writing, fashion, Queen Bey and Quesada. Note: On Wednesdays, she wears pink.  
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