Instructor Textbook Requests FAQ

This page 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