Bookstore FAQs and Information


Return Policy and FAQ Online Orders Policy and FAQ
Digital Course Materials FAQ

Textbooks FAQ

Custom Orders



Safe-Buy Periods

Fall 2023
Safe buy: Aug 1- Sept 15 2023
Return deadline: Sept 22 2023
Winter 2024
Safe buy:Dec 1 - Jan 19 2023
Return deadline:  Jan 26 2023          
Spring 2024
Safe buy:  April 23, 2024 - May 10 2024
Return deadline: May 17 2024
Summer 2024
Safe buy: June 18 - June 20 2024
Return deadline: July 5 2024

Textbooks FAQ

When should I order my books?

The short answer is: early! If you know what classes you're taking, order your books now. You’ll beat the rush and help us know when to reorder to ensure we have enough for everyone. Please remember that shipping companies everywhere are overwhelmed with orders these days and shipping takes longer than average - another great reason to shop early.

Check our "safe buy dates to make sure that you can return your books if you drop a class.

How do I know what books I need?

To find what books you need, you can use our textbook lookup tool. You can add all your courses at the same time and the system will generate the list of everything you need.

Do I need all of the books listed?

Maybe, but maybe not! We ask your professor whether your book is required, recommended, or optional. Generally, required means you'll have a hard time being successful in the class if you don’t have the book. Recommended or optional means that the book will be helpful, but isn’t as critical for success. If you're not sure, you can always double-check your syllabus or ask your instructor.

Another thing to pay attention to is we often offer the same item in multiple formats (hurray for choice!). Generally, you only need to buy the course material in your preferred format. So if there is a hardback, a loose-leaf (these are textbooks that go in a three-ring binder) and an ebook, pick whichever format works the best for you.

Should I buy the physical or digital course material?

This is really personal preference, but there are a few important things to keep in mind:

Physical books are pretty straightforward. Sometimes they come packaged with a digital component, but with a physical book, you will always have that resource unless you decide to sell it. Access codes are more complicated, and the details vary per title and per publisher.

  • Access codes don't always include an ebook. Sometimes the access code only provides access to quizzes, study guides, and other supplemental learning material. We list on the title whether the access code comes with an ebook or not, if that information is available.
  • With digital books, you get a licence to the material for a period of time. Sometimes it's a perpetual licence (“forever”) and other times this is a 6, 12, 18, 24, etc. month access.
  • Many digital books are available offline, but some are only available as a webpage.
  • Generally, you can't print an entire ebook. There is often a per day or per user printing limit.
  • You can't share ebooks with other students. Licences are granted per user.

Why are textbooks so expensive?

It isn’t your imagination, textbooks are expensive! We know you’d rather spend your money on almost anything else, and we do everything we can to keep prices low. The University of Calgary Bookstore is a University run store; we use a cost-recovery model for selling textbooks.

We don't receive any funding from student tuition or fees to operate the store. Any profit made at the bookstore goes directly back into funding our student-focused affordability programs or to the University to fund other important programs.

Are used textbooks available?

Yes! We source used books from all over North America. make sure they are legitimate copies that are the right edition for your class. You can save anywhere from 20-45% on used books. When you find the book you need, you can try clicking ‘New’ or ‘Used’. If there are no used copies of that book available, it will read ‘N/A’

My professor said I need a book, but it isn’t listed on your site. What do I do?

Sometimes this happens! It usually means that the information about your textbook didn’t make it to the bookstore. We can help! Please contact us with your course number and the book you were told you needed and we will work with your professor to get what you need

back to top

Digital Course Materials FAQ

What are digital course materials?

Great question! This is our umbrella term for ebooks, access codes, homework platforms, and other digital assets that are becoming more common in post-secondary education. You purchase a licence to access these assets (which is a bit different than owning a book). They are often used alongside a textbook as supplemental material and more publishers are moving to only provide digital options.

What's the difference between an ebook and an access code?

An ebook is simply the digital version of a textbook. An access code is a course-specific password used to gain access to course content online. This often includes ebooks, practice exams, videos, and course assignments, but each one varies.

Digital materials of all kinds are often available to you for a timed subscription - 6 or 12 months, or the duration of your course.

What's included? Are they all ebooks?

That depends! Each item is different. Some contain ebooks. Others give access to a learning platform without an ebook, and some provide both. It's important to check what the item says about ebook or platform access before you buy.

Can I return digital materials?

 If you purchase directly through us, unfortunately we don't accept digital returns.

It's important to check the title, edition, and any additional materials included in a digital book before you buy it.

How long will I have access?

It varies. Each publisher sets rules for each digital item. Access generally lasts between 6 months and 2 years, with a few offering lifetime access. We do our best to ensure that the information is clear before you purchase, but if you have questions please contact us

Can I print my ebook?

Usually, no, or not in full. Publishers place limits on how much of their ebooks you can print.

Can I access my digital materials offline?

It depends on the publisher. Many have platforms that allow offline access, but some don't. If you have questions about your code, please contact us and we'll solve it together.

Can I share digital course materials with a friend?

Unfortunately no, digital course materials are licenced only to one person.

back to top

Online Orders

With our current volume, orders will be fulfilled within 1-2 business days.

How to Order

Browse our site to purchase textbooks, digital course materials, general reading books, clothing, and more. When you submit your order, you'll receive a confirmation email with details about your order. This doesn't mean it's ready yet! You'll get a second email when it's been shipped, or is ready for pickup.

For security reasons, we do not accept phone orders.

Cancelling Your Order

Between Aug 29-Sept 15 online orders can be cancelled within 30 minutes of placing your order. If you need to cancel your order, please email with "Cancel [Your Order Number]" in the subject line. Unfortunately, after this window your order cannot be cancelled.


Can I get my order shipped to me?

Absolutely. Select your preferred shipping at checkout.

How do I pick up my order?

In-store pickup is available at both the Main Campus and Medical Bookstore.

When you place your order, select in-store pickup. You'll get a confirmation email, then a second email when your order is ready. Follow the instructions in the second email to pick up your order.

Can someone else pick up my order?

Yes! Just provide the name of your pickup person in the comment section during checkout. 

How long will it take for my order to get to me?

That depends. If your book is in stock, we will ship it out to you within our current processing times. You'll get an email with your tracking number directly from from our shipping partner and you will be able to track your package.

How do I know if you got my order?

When we receive your order, you'll get an automatically generated email from the system. Please make sure you enter your email address correctly or you'll miss it and we won't be able to contact you.

How do I pay for my order?

We accept all major credit cards on our site. Your credit card information is securely processed by a PCI compliant leading credit processing company. The University of Calgary Bookstore does not see or store any of your credit card information.

What’s my tracking number?

Our shipping partner (currently UPS and Canada Post for areas not covered by UPS) will send you a tracking number by email to the address you provided. Please search your email  fro UPS or Canada Post to find your tracking number. If you are unable to find your tracking number contact us and we will help. 

Something is wrong with my order! Who do I contact? 

While we take care to pack orders correctly each time, if we have made a mistake, please let us know as soon as possible and we will work with you for the best possible outcome.


back to top


Return Policy 

Clothing, Giftware, General Reading & Merchandise

We accept returns for a full refund within 14 days of customer purchase with original receipt. Returns must be in new, unopened, unused condition with tags attached.


Physical textbooks and course materials are final sale unless purchased during the safe-buy period.

Compressed, Block Week & CTED Course

These course materials may be returned within 14 days of original purchase OR the first day of class, whichever is first. They may be returned within 7 days of the course being dropped or canceled (prior to the first day of class), with proof of registration and drop or cancellation.

Non-Returnable Items

  • Digital textbook or other course materials
  • Software and/or liceneses
  • Calculators
  • Shrink wrapped packages where the shrink wrap has been broken
  • Medical equipment


Abandoned In-Store Pickups

If your order is not picked up within 30 days we will cancel and refund your order. A  20% restocking fee will be applied.

What if I need to return a textbook Do I need to know anything?

Textbooks are final sale unless you’ve purchased them within safe buy dates
If you are within the safe buy dates,  your textbook must be in brand new saleable condition. Here are some general guidelines
  • The spine is intact
  • No pages are missing, including the cover
  • There is minimal to no damage to the cover or contents, including tears, bends and creases
  • There is no water damage
  • There is minimal to no highlighting, doodles or notes
  • At least one University of Calgary Bookstore barcode sticker remains present on the textbook
  • In the case of packages or unique course materials, all original components are present (note: eLearning codes packaged with textbooks may be used).

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept textbook returns that do not meet these conditions. Our return standards are set by the publishers.

What if I need to return something that isn’t a textbook?

For returns of clothing, giftware, general reading books and general merchandise: We accept returns for a full refund within 14 days of customer purchase with original receipt. Returns must be in new, unopened, unused condition with tags attached.

I need to exchange clothing for a different size.

For exchanges of clothing: We are happy to exchange clothing within 14 days of customer purchase with original receipt. Clothes for exchange must be in new, unused condition with tags attached.

Can I return or exchange and item by mail?

Of couse! But please note that any shipping charges are at the customers expense.

Ship your item(s) for return to

 University of Calgary Bookstore Returns

2500 University Dr NW 

Calgary AB

 T2N 1N4 

Include a copy of your receipt in the box so that we know who to process the refund for. Items must be shipped by their return deadline. 

Please keep a copy of the tracking number for your shipment. The bookstore is not responsible for lost, missing, or damaged return shipments

Returns and refunds are processed when the items reach the store. 

Exchanges via Mail: send the item(s) back as a return (see instructions above) and place a new online order for the correct item.

back to top



Instructor Textbook Requests FAQ



This section is for instructors at UCalgary.

Our textbook team is happy to work with you to find the best course materials available to support student learning. You're experts in your fields, and we're experts in sourcing course materials - let us help! Requesting your books on time through the bookstore supports students using university financial aid programs and helps international students get their books on time.

The bookstore runs a bookloan program that provides free required books to 20 students a semester. This program as well as student sponsorships rely on submitted book lists; students using these programs cannot access them elsewhere.

Please send us a message if you have any questions not covered in this FAQ.


Why work with the bookstore?


There are plenty of reasons to work with us - we make the ordering process as smooth as possible for you. More than that, choosing the bookstore, even when your books are available elsewhere, benefits your students.

Students using University financial aid programs such as our bookloan program or student sponsorships rely on booklists submitted through the bookstore to access their materials. All students use our textbook lookup tool to understand what they need for the semester all in one place, even if they end up purchasing elsewhere. We need your help to keep accurate book lists!

Additionally, international students may be prohibited from purchasing from vendors in other countries, and the bookstore can find alternatives to ensure every student can access what they need for class. We set our adoption deadlines with them in mind, including enough lead time to account for longer shipping times. Submitting your orders by the deadline each semester makes sure international students aren't left behind, and we have enough time to handle any hurdles that come up in the process.

And of course, we're part of the UCalgary community just like you. Any profits we make go right back into supporting the campus.

Has moving courses online changed the adoption process?

The adoption process hasn't changed. We're committed to finding the best available options for your courses, and will work with publishers to make sure your books arrive as soon as possible, in the format you need. You can help us make this transition as easy as possible by submitting your requests as soon as you can, though we're happy to accept them at any point in the semester.

Why are your deadlines so early?

Many people wonder why our timelines are set so early. Our goal is to ensure that we have the books for your class start date at the lowest possible price. Here are some of the ways that meeting the Bookstore's timelines helps you, your students, the Bookstore, and the University: 

  • By combining orders from the same publisher we can reduce freight costs and pass those savings along to the students.
  • We ensure there is enough time for the publisher to print and ship the ever increasing number of print on demand books. For some publishers, this is now 100% of their titles. The lead time on these books can be 4-6+ weeks.
  • We have more time to source used books in the marketplace. We buy books back from previous students (putting money in their pockets) as well as finding them from many other sources.
  • Gives us time to work together if there are problems with your book requests such as; it is no longer in print, it has gone to a new edition, or it is import to order and may take 8-10+ weeks to arrive.
  • On-time textbook requests also guide our decisions on which books to return to publishers from previous semesters and which to keep. This saves considerable shipping costs as we may have just returned the books that you need for your courses.

If my textbook request is late, will you rush my textbooks in?

.Unfortunately, no. As you might imagine, books are very expensive to ship. Air freight or express ground is extraordinarily expensive and the bookstore cannot absorb the cost to rush books in for late requests.

My students don't need a book. Why do I need to tell you?

Your students will come in, stop by, call and email asking about their books. Whenever possible we like to be able to give them the information they are looking for. If you tell us you are not using a book we can relay that information. If you don't let us know, we can't help out the student. It is easy to tell us you are not using a book, just follow your personalized link to your course and click "No text Required" on the right hand side of the page.

Why should I choose the bookstore over Amazon, Chapters, or another store?

Many of your students will come by the bookstore looking to pick up everything they need for the semester in one place, and we want to be able to provide that service for them. Additionally, vendors may not have enough copies for your students, will only have a few at a good price, or may not carry the correct edition for your class. We can work with the publisher to have enough copies of the right books for your students.

The bookstore is a university-run department. Our goal, like yours, is student success, not profit; we are here to ensure your students have what they need to succeed in your classes. When you and your students shop at the bookstore, the funds go to support the UCalgary community. They help us run our student-focused programs, and any proceeds we make at year-end go right back into the University.

What information do we need to give you?

The information we need is all included in our textbook request system here:

Additional information we really appreciate (you can leave us a note with your textbook request or send us an email at

  • If you have open book exams. This increases the number of students who purchase books.
  • Whether your students need the book to pass, or whether many of them will likely get by without it (no matter how much more they'd learn with the book).
    • If your students NEED the book, please list it as a required text.
    • If the students will use the textbook to supplement their learning please list the book as recommended or optional.

What's the big deal with ISBNs?

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number - each time something is changed in a book it also changes. When a book is part of a package with a digital resource, or another book the package gets its own unique ISBN. So if you provide us with an ISBN you have for an old edition of a book, or a book that you actually want as a package, we don't have a way to know that.

If you aren't sure what ISBN to order:

  • If the book has been used in the past you can look through the textbook ordering system to find the information by searching the "Copy Another Adoption" tab for the previous course.
  • If you are using something new, talk to the publishers representative about the proper bundle or book ISBN.

Why don't you bring in enough books for every student in my class?

The reality is that the majority of students will either decide not to purchase their books or buy them from an alternate source. Like all departments at the University, the Bookstore is required to make sound financial decisions. So, we base our buying decisions for each book in each class on the following:

  • Sales in previous terms for the course, instructor, and book.
  • Whether the book is required or not.
  • How long the book has been in circulation.
  • The price of the book, and whether other retailers can offer it at a better price than we can.
  • Whether there are other editions the students can use.
  • Whether the library offers a copy on reserve or a free digital version.   
  • Whether we can return unsold books or not
  • Any additional information you can give us to help us make better buying decisions. 

Why are textbooks so expensive?

That's a great question! As academic staff, I am sure you can appreciate the time and effort that goes into creating high quality course materials. The publishers set their prices and the University of Calgary Bookstore works with the cost and retail prices that the publishers have set. Despite the high price of many textbooks, there is actually very little margin on textbooks, the Bookstore doesn't over inflate prices or seek to profit from textbook sales.

How can I reduce the costs of textbooks for my students?

  • Consider the cost of potential textbooks early in your search for course materials.
  • Get your textbook requests in to us early so we can source as many used copies as possible.
  • Let us know if your students can use an older edition.  We can often get more used copies of older editions.
  • Work with your publisher's representative to see if it is possible to get a better price on the book(s) you'd like to use in your class

I've changed my mind and want to use another book.

Please let us know as soon as possible! Send an email to

All costs associated with changing a textbook must be covered by the department. Costs associated with changing books can arise from (but are not limited to) the following situations:

  • The bookstore has already placed the order for your original book(s) and now needs to return them and reorder the new material
  • Students have purchased the original material and now need to return it to buy the correct material
We can work with you to provide a rough estimate of the costs, and we'll need approval from the budget holder before making the change

What is the difference between a required, recommended, optional, and alternate book?

Our definitions are:

  • Required books are needed to pass the class. These are the books your students really can't do without.
  • Recommended books help students excel in the class.
  • Optional books are supplemental. They enhance your students' understanding of the topics covered, or that they may find interesting.
  • Alternate books are often previous editions of books, or books students can use in the place of required or recommended books.

How do eBooks work? Can my students purchase an ebook?

Not all textbooks come as eBooks, but more and more do. If you'd like your students to have an option to use the eBook, please let us know when you place your textbook request and we will do our best to track down an option for them. Sometimes the digital book comes as part of a learning platform, and you (as the instructor) may have to set up your course code in that platform in order for your students to access their books. This is usually a very straightforward process. Please also know, that often digital offerings of textbooks are not offered in a standard pdf or eBook platform, but online as webpages in the publisher's elearning platform, and more and more of these platforms operate on a 4, 6, or 12 month subscription basis where the students lose access to their materials after that time frame.

Although the world is becoming more and more digital, you might be surprised to know that in the Winter semester of 2018, when students had the option to buy a digital only version versus a hardcover textbook, students purchased the hardcover book 3-5 times more frequently despite the increased price. Books aren't dead yet! When students buy a hardcopy of the book they know they have the information for as long as they have the book, and if they don't need it, they can often resell the book either to a peer in their program, online, or through the Bookstore's buyback program.

When will my book get here?

Soon! In all seriousness, we know that these days books take between 2-8 + weeks to arrive after we place the order with the publisher. Each semester we may be ordering over 2000 different titles, and your textbook request is processed in the order it was received. Sometimes books get back ordered by the publisher or take much longer than expected. If we find out about any problems or delays with your textbook request we will let you know ASAP with as much information as we have

The textbook I want is no longer available, what do I do?

You have a couple of different options:

  • Sometimes another publisher will have a different version of the book.
  • Sometimes you can get permission to have the book reprinted or posted on D2L. To do this you must work with the Copyright office to get permission. You can contact them at

My book isn't here, can I photocopy the textbook and hand it out?

The short answer is NO! Without appropriate permissions this breaks copyright rules. However, sometimes it is possible to get permission to do this. Please contact the University's Copyright Office to see if this might be possible. You can contact them at

The textbook is way too expensive, can I copy parts of the book to hand out or put it on D2L?

The short answer is NO! Without appropriate permissions this breaks copyright rules. However, sometimes it is possible to get permission to do this. Please contact the University's Copyright Office to see if this might be possible. You can contact them at

I got a message saying the textbook I want to use is out of print or in a new edition.

Of course, we can only sell books that are available for us to bring in. Sometimes we can find enough copies of old or out of print editions, but we may have to ask you to find a different set of material that we can source for you.

I need help choosing a new textbook, who should I speak to?

.We are working on pulling together a list of publisher representatives. Until we have that done, please email us at

Where did your course package request link go?

The Bookstore is no longer offering a course pack service. You can still get your course materials to your students in a couple of ways. Click here for more information


back to top





Custom Orders Information



The bookstore has a team of talented staff that create custom items for different faculties, teams and departments across Calgary. We have access to top brands of promotional products and can work within any budget. When you work with the bookstore, you'll get the best pricing within the industry - we have zero hidden setup fees and offer free regular shipping.

More than that - all your funds stay on campus. Support the UCalgary community that we all work so hard to serve. The bookstore is fully licensed to use all University of Calgary logos and can ensure your promotional products meet our brand standards.

Browse some of what we have to offer.

Do you accept IDB (Interdepartmental Billings) and P-cards?

We accept IDBs on purchases over $250. To process an IDB, we simply need the approval of the budget owner. We can also process P-card transactions in store or securely over the phone during regular business hours.

Can I pick up my custom order at the Bookstore? If the order is large how do I get it to my office?

You can pick up a custom order at the Main Campus Bookstore or the Foothills Campus Health Sciences Bookstore. For large orders, we're more than happy to deliver it to any building on the Main Campus. Please arrange for this when you place your order.

How much time does the Bookstore need to get my order in?


This will depend on the size, breadth and application of the order. Certain items can be completed within 2 weeks, but 3 - 6 weeks is common for standard orders. For fastest turnaround, please have your files ready and in .ai or .eps vector format.

We stock a variety of standard branded products in store in large quantities for last minute requests.

How long has the Bookstore been in the promotional products business?

We've been fostering school spirit with UCalgary branded merchandise since day one, back in 1966. We're the resident experts on promotional products on campus, and we'll make sure your department's products meet the university's standards for brand and quality.


Still have questions? Want to place an order? Email us at or call us at 1-877-220-5937

back to top