About Us > Frequently Asked Questions

A little bit of information goes a long way. Read this for information on our policies, procedures and general business practices.

What is an ISBN and why do you keep asking me for it?
Used Books
Do you sell used books?
What kind of condition are the used books in?
Can I order used books online?
Can I reserve used books when they come in?
When is the best time to order used books?
What are the benefits of ordering used books?

Backorders, Substitutions and Booklists
What is a backorder?
What is a subbed/substituted book?
Why doesn't the booklist my school gave me match the booklist on the Alpha Textbooks site?
I have an older version of a textbook, can I use that instead?
What are my shipping options?

What is your return policy?

Where the heck is my order?
Who do I speak to when I have a concern?

I didn't see my question answered here. Where can I find out what I need to know?


Customer service is important to us, so we do our best to assist you with your order in every way we can. We normally take phone orders from October through June.
During peak season, July through September, because of the high volume of in-store and web orders we cannot always accommodate phone orders, but we will do our best. If you have any issues while completing a web order, call us for assistance.
You do not increase your chances of receiving reconditioned used books by calling the store. We fulfil used book orders on a first come, first served basis. Orders are filled in an order-placed priority sequence, including web orders.
We recommend placing web orders, as our secure ecommerce and tracking solutions will mean less delay in receiving your product. It will also save you time.

Create an account and follow the instructions.

Go to Student Orders. If you haven't already signed in, you will be prompted to sign in.
When you reach the school textbooks page, select your school and grade at the top of the page. Your school booklist will come up. You can now select the books you need. When you're done with your school list, if you need to buy for another student, you can select a different grade or school list. Your books will still be in the shopping cart.
When you're all done selecting books and school supplies, review your shopping cart and proceed to checkout.

Create an account and follow the instructions to place any order. Select the textbooks you’ll need for the year.
You are automatically opted in to receive used books. A checkbox will indicate that you have been selected to receive used books. If you do not want used/reconditioned books, you must deselect the option by selecting NEW books only.
Because pricing for used books varies depending on the condition of the used book, we will not quote you the price for the used book online, but we will give you the exact discounted price when your order is finalized.
Your credit card will be pre-authorized for the price of the new books, but if used books are in stock when your order is processed a discounted charge will appear on your final receipt.

Our website should work in most updated standard browsers for desktop and mobile devices. If you are having difficulty, contact us and we will do our best to assist you.

You can pay using credit card online. We do not accept cheques.

Please call us 416-461-3542 or toll free 1-877-632-5742 to make changes to your order.

Log into your account and select the appropriate order under the tab labelled “Order History.”

Yes, you always have the option to pick up your books in person. You may indicate your preference during the checkout process.
We will call or email you when your order is ready. If you show up prior to being contacted your order may not be ready for pickup.

If you're purchasing in store, we'll usually see and apply any existing credit. You can also ask us to check if a credit has been placed under another child’s or parent’s name of the same family.
If you're purchasing online the credit will show on your account. If you do not see the credit on your online account, but believe there should be credit, please contact us immediately.
Please note: Credits are sometimes applied directly by the school and may not apply toward your Alpha Textbooks order. If you have any questions about this, or you want to know if this applies to your school, send us an email.

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a unique identifier that allows a specific book and edition to be identified – it's like a fingerprint for books.
If you ask for a book by title there may be many books that match that title. Even the same publisher may have different editions using the same title, but an ISBN is used only once for a particular book.
The ISBN allows us to make sure you get the right book and edition you want. This is why our booklists always show the ISBN and why we ask for the ISBN instead of the title when you contact us.
Some ISBNs are 10 digits long. Most new books have ISBNs that are 13 digits long. Both work. The ISBN will be found on the copyright page and at the back of the book next to the barcode.

Yes we do. We happily sell used books as we are strong believers in recycling and sustainability.
All our used books are guaranteed to be in good to great condition, but we cannot guarantee that we will have the book you are looking for available in used condition, in stock. Reconditioned used books are sold on a first come, first serve basis.

We guarantee that all our used books are reconditioned and in good to great condition. The books are legible, complete, and otherwise appropriate for use in the classroom and/or in your home.
In some circumstances, a school or class will use a book that hasn’t been in print (available as new) for a lengthy period of time. This means that we may have to recycle and recondition the books many times. In this case, the books might show more wear than normal. Still, we will not sell or otherwise distribute books that are broken, incomplete or inadequate in any way.
We only buy back books we can recondition adequately. For more information about our buyback policy, click here.

Absolutely!  Our website shows new book pricing only, because the discount on reconditioned used books varies depending on the books.
We will preauthorize your credit card for the price of the new books. The discount you receive, if used books are included in your order, will be reflected in your final receipt.

No, unfortunately, we don't have a waiting list for used books.
If you call in to inquire about a particular book and purchase it over the phone, it'll be reserved for you. Otherwise, because of the number of orders we process, all used books are sold on a first come first serve basis.

The best time to order used books is early to mid-July. We usually have most booklists up by the end of June. We typically have a good stock of used books by mid-July, so this is the ideal time to buy reconditioned used books.
We generally start buying back used books in June. Remember to sell us your used books, and sell early. This way you help the environment and make money.  

Conservation and sustainability of money and the environment.
Ordering used books not only preserves your pocket book, but it also preserves precious environmental resources. The more demand there is for used books, the more we take in.
Buying used books helps everyone, kids and adults alike, learn about sustainable practices in both environmental conservation and economic responsibility.

A backorder is an item that may be currently out-of-stock in our warehouse, but will be available soon. In some cases, one or more titles on your booklist may be backordered at the source. This can happen because it is:

a) Out of Print - The publisher may have stopped printing the title. This usually happens when a new edition has come out. The new book will be substituted for the older edition. In some cases, the book has simply reached the end of its shelf life and no substitute is available from the publisher.  In that case, your school may choose to use a different book.

b) Substituted to a new edition or alternative edition. If a new edition of a book is available, the school may choose to substitute that title. (In rare cases schools find older editions more useful and continue to use those versions.)  Schools may also substitute one book with a completely different book from another publisher.
Substitutions can happen as the school season progresses and books become unavailable. You may find that a booklist you received from the school earlier no longer matches the up-to-date version on our website. Our booklists will reflect the most current information provided by the schools. Likewise, we keep the schools up-to-date on book availability. If you believe we have made a mistake on one of our booklists, let us know. We’ll make sure to correct any error or miscommunication.

c) Reprinting, Not Published or Printed Yet - Due to the cost of printing and warehousing books, some textbook publishers will wait until they've accumulated orders before printing, so they know how many copies of a book to print. This allows them to be mindful of printing costs, which helps keep down the book’s price. In such cases it is difficult for us to get your book prior to the start of the school term.

We do our best to get all titles in before the beginning of the school year, and minimize any backorder issues. In some cases completing an order isn't always possible before the term starts.  However, we keep schools informed of these situations so your child doesn't suffer from not having the textbooks they require.
The best way to avoid backorder issues is to place your order early so we know how many copies of each title we need to source.

The booklists that appear on our site are approved by the schools. These are the titles and editions we've been asked to supply you.
Changes from edition to edition may be substantial enough to cause confusion if an older edition is used by the student. Due to the number of titles we deal with, we won't know the specific changes between different editions.

You can find out about all your shipping options here.

Please see our Return Policy.

You can see the status of your order for textbooks and everything else, by logging into your account and selecting “Order History?” A tracking number should also be provided to you via email, at the time that your order is fulfilled and shipped.

If you ordered online a while back and haven't received your items, you may have a book that’s backordered. Our policy is to wait until all books are in to ship your order/call you for pick up. If a book on backorder has not arrived prior to the start of school, we will ship the rest of the items to ensure that you receive them before school starts.
If you're concerned that maybe the order was shipped and lost, we suggest first checking online and then calling if you have further questions.


If you have a concern you can call and speak to the retail manager or email us.
Before doing so, please take a moment to read through our FAQs, which outline our retail policies.
Have your receipt or order number handy so we can easily address your issue.

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