Some students prefer not to spend money on books until after they’ve been to the first class. This is understandable, because the professor may recommend a particular edition of a book. It’s a good idea to get that edition and not an earlier one or you may find yourself very confused. Nonetheless, some students like to get a head start on reading. So how can you find out what the texts are for your courses?
Finding the Titles
Every course has a syllabus. The syllabus includes a detailed description of the course, the method of evaluation, and a list of required readings. It is always available in the first class. If your professor is using the Student Portal (called BlackBoard), it will also be there once classes begin. But what if you want to know what books to read earlier than the first day of classes?
In the summer, many department websites post detailed course descriptions that list required textbooks or course readers. Others will list the first few required readings.
Still can’t find the reading list? By the second week of August, the U of T Bookstore will post reading lists for tons of courses on their website. From the Bookstore homepage, click on “Find Your Textbooks Now.” That will take you to a pop-up screen. If you don’t have a TCard yet, instead of hitting the “Go” button, select “St. George” under “Look for one book by campus and course.” Just make sure you’re in the 2017-2018 academic session. If you want to find a reading list earlier than mid-August, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with the course code and lecture number and, if the Bookstore has the information already, they will send it to you. You can also call the Bookstore at 416 640-5840.
If you still can’t find the books, you might be able to predict what books you’ll need using Toronto University Student's Book Exchange (TUSBE). These student-run sites allow you to search by book title, description, authors, edition, university, and course code.and can give you an idea of what books were used last year in a course. That’s a good start, especially if the same professor is teaching the course again this year. Once you’ve found the books you want, you have many options for getting them.
Getting the Books
You can order new and used books and course readers on the U of T Bookstore website for pick-up or delivery. The Bookstore has a textbook rental program as well.
New books can also be found at several bookstores near the St. George Campus, including the Bob Miller Book Room, Book City, Caversham Booksellers, Indigo, and Chapters. And who can forget Amazon?
There are many ways to get your hands on used books:
The University of Toronto Student Union runs the UTSU Book Exchange, which you can access once you have your UTMail+ email.
There are a host of used bookstores close to the University. Consider ABC Book Store, Balfour Books, BMV Bookstores, Discount Textbooks (on College Street, right across from the U of T Bookstore), Seeker’s Bookstore, and Ten Editions, to name a few.
It’s also good to know that in the first few weeks of each academic year, various colleges on campus host major used book sales, featuring thousands of low-priced books on every subject. These sales are perfect for finding out-of-print and rare titles, so watch for promotions in the fall for details. All proceeds go towards college libraries and student benefits.
Sometimes you can get ebooks or pdf versions of your books. This option is still gaining momentum. For instance, Android Press is starting to bring textbooks to Google Play Books.
Books can be expensive! There are options to help pay for your books on campus as well. The U.T.S.U also offers a book bursary you can apply for and many colleges also have options for financial aid for school supplies. Be sure to connect with your college registrars office if you need some help getting ahold of your books.
Finally, it is helpful to know for next year that the U of T Bookstore also has a textbook Buy-Back program for books that: 1) are in good condition, 2) have not gone into a new edition, 3) are still on a course list for an upcoming term and, 4) are in demand.