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Textbook FAQs

  1. How do I find out which textbooks I need for my courses?
  2. How much should I budget for my books?
  3. Why are textbooks so expensive?
  4. What is the difference between a Required and an Optional textbook?
  5. Where can I find first year course materials?
  6. Where are the Continuing Education books?
  7. When should I buy my course materials?
  8. Can I reserve my course materials ahead of time?
  9. Can I return my course materials for a refund?
  10. What are the Textbook Refund Deadlines?
  11. What forms of payment do you accept?
  12. Can I order my course materials online?
  13. What is a Custom Courseware?
  14. What is a Print to Order (PTO) or Rain Check?
  15. Beyond the obvious, what are the differences between new and used Texts?
  16. What is an adoption?
  17. What if my textbook is not in stock?
  18. Where do I find lab manuals, safety goggles, lab notebooks, dissection kits, lab coats etc.?
  19. How do I read a shelf tag?

1. How do I find out which textbooks I need for my courses?

Search our course materials listings to build your booklist. Don't forget to print out a copy when you visit the store to ensure you pick up exactly what you need.

2. How much should I budget for my books?

On average students spend around $800 per semester on books. However that amount can vary widely depending on your program the cost of books per semester can range between $200 and $1,200. In general, Medical and Science students end up spending the most and Social Science students spend the least.

We suggest you read our Top 7 Tips for Buying Course Materials at McMaster.

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3. Why are textbooks so expensive?

Textbooks require a greater investment to write, involve more extensive peer review, call for more comprehensive editing, and cost more to produce than general trade books. Textbooks are usually produced in smaller print runs, eliminating economies of scale, and their edition life is increasingly limited. In order to keep information current, publishers often produce new editions of textbooks on a regular basis.

The mark-ups on textbooks go to cover our operating costs and our annual donation to Student Affairs. For more information about where your text dollars end up read the article “Why are my Textbooks so Expensive?”.

4. What is the difference between a required and an optional course materials?

When a Professor indicates a textbook is Required, it generally means that the book is an integral part of the lesson plan for the course and not having it would make the class much more difficult.

If a textbook is marked Optional, it generally means the material is supplementary to the lesson plan and will enhance your overall understanding of the course material.

5. Where can I find first year course materials?

All Undergraduate, Graduate, MBA and Continuing Education course materials, including first year textbooks are kept in the Main Store. All Health Sciences course materials are located in the Health Sciences Campus Store on the first floor of the Hospital.

See a complete list of the course material locations for each department.

6. Where are the Continuing Education books?

Continuing Education books are located in the Main Campus Store year around.

To learn more about CCE textbooks and ordering CCE books online please visit Continuing Education textbook information page.

7. When should I buy my course materials?

Although it’s tempting to buy your books before school starts to avoid line-ups, it is not always the best idea to do so. Usually it’s better to buy your books after you've received the syllabus from your Instructor, as it clearly outlines the required and optional course materials for your course.

Many first year classes have more than one Instructor for the same course code and each section may be require different materials. Therefore it is important to know which section you are in.

Although the line-ups will be longer once classes start, if you wait you can get the right books the first time and avoid both the refund line and being stuck with the wrong books.

To ensure students have ample opportunity to purchase their course materials, the Campus Store stocks these materials for the first eight weeks of term. At this point the store begins to send any remaining materials back to the Publishers, unless we've been notified by a professor that they will be used in an upcoming term. This enables us to begin preparing, sourcing and stocking materials for the next term.

You want to ensure your're prepared for class so please don't wait until the day before your exam to purchase your course materials. Chances are that if you come in the day before your exam we will not have a copy of your textbook in stock. Be reasonable; you have known since the first day of class the exam was coming. It’s your responsibility to be prepared.

8. Can I reserve my course materials ahead of time?

If you would like your books early you will have to purchase them. We suggest that you order your books online.

A reservations or "hold" on a book can only be made in person during the first four weeks of term and after the title has sold out. Reservations are held for 48 hours.

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9. Can I return my course materials for a refund?

Please review our refund policy for full details.

 

10. What are the Textbook Refund Deadlines?

2021 Spring/Summer Term

Last day to return Grad & Undergrad SPRING term textbooks
purchased between spring book list launch through May 10th, 2021
must be returned(or postmarked if shipping) by
Friday May 14th, 2021

Last day to return Grad & Undergrad SUMMER term textbooks
purchased between summer book list launch through June 28th, 2021
must be returned(or postmarked if shipping) by
Monday, July 5th, 2021

Last day to return MBA SPRING term textbooks
purchased between spring book list launch through May 14th, 2021
must be returned (or postmarked if shipping) by
Friday May 14th, 2021

McMaster Continuing Education (MCE) Text Returns
Last day for MCE text returns is two weeks from the start of the first class.

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11. What forms of payment do you accept?

In store we accept cash, credit/debit cards, and student charge accounts. The cardholder must be present when using a credit/debit card and student charge accounts. The Campus Store does not accept personal or certified cheques.

12. Can I order my course materials online?

Students may order course materials online when the course listings for the new semester are released.

During August/September and December/January we offer a Click & Collect Program to make your online ordering even easier.

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13. What is a Custom Courseware?

Custom Courseware is a service that assists instructors in creating “coursepacks.” A coursepack is a print or electronic compilation of scanned material from a variety of sources such as books, journals, lab notes, textbooks, websites, etc., which an instructor has decided to use in a course. Essentially, it is like having a textbook created specifically for your course. Custom Courseware FAQs.

14. What is a Print to Order (PTO) coursepack or raincheck?

99% of coursepacks are printed on campus, so we have the ability to print additional copies once the stock has run out. These additional copies are Print to Order or “rainchecks.” A Print to Order courseware can be purchased at any bookstore location. Once your order is paid for, your coursepack will be printed and available for pick up within 24-48 hours.

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15. Beyond the obvious, what are the differences between new and used Texts?

New books have come directly from the publisher. Used books may have markings and may be worn, but they should have no missing pages. Used texts, if available, cost about 25% less than new ones. There is no HST on USED books.
Used books are always in demand and they sell out quickly. Make sure you shop early if you are hoping to buy your books used!

All used books are shelved along with the new ones in the individual subject/course areas. Look for the yellow USED sticker to determine whether you are looking at a new or used copy.

Visit Sellback to search our used book Classifieds or to sign up to be alerted when we are buying back your course materials.

16. What is an adoption?

An adoption simply means your Professor has ordered or "adopted" a textbook for a course. Please note that we receive textbook adoptions up to (and beyond) the first day of classes. If we haven't heard from your instructor about what books we should order you may see a "No Adoption" notification in your book listings. Check back often,speak to your instructor, or contact us and we'll try to help.

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17. What if my textbook is not in stock?

No worries, we are continually placing reorders a the start of term. If we do not have the book you need at the start of terrm, visit us on chat and let one of our staff members know. They will connect with our course materials team, giving them a heads up that a reorder needs to be placed.

Once the term is in full swing, you will be able to place a special order online for the book. by pre-purchasing an out of stock text online and we'll order it on your behalf from the publisher, contacting you once it touches down in store.

18. Where do I find lab manuals, safety goggles, lab notebooks, dissection kits, lab coats etc.?

Required course supplies will appear in your course listing as long as your Instructor let us know about them. Medical supplies, scrubs and medical reference books for Health Sciences courses are found in the Health Sciences Campus Store.

19. How do I read a shelf tag?

Shelf tag

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