Course Materials: FAQs

*NEW* What is Single Sign-On (SSO feature for Course Materials)?

Our website now has the capability to have a personalized list of course materials for students for the courses they are enrolled in. This saves the time and effort from selecting each individual course to find textbooks. Choose 'MY PERSONALIZED COURSE MATERIALS' from Course Materials drop down menu and enter your SFU ID and accept the consent pop-up window. It will results personalized associated textbooks list and options (digital and physical), including pricing. Select what you want to put in your shopping card and checkout!

Can I come in and browse Course Materials in-person?

Although the majority of course materials are still digital, limited quantities of physical textbooks are available for in-person browsing. Come into the Bookstore and go down the stairs. You will see textbooks organized alphabetically by author. Use the Single Sign-On, see your customized list, then grab your textbooks and pay at the cashiers upstairs.

What if I don't know the author's last name?
Use the Single-Sign On!  Using your mobile device browser, navigate to, Course Materials and My personalized course materials. Then sign-in using your SFU Computing ID and the Author's last name will be displayed with each course listing, including pricing.  

Do you have physical books for all my courses?
As we slowly resume regular operations, we will bring in more and more physical titles. If digital options (VitalSource or CEI) are available, we will begin bringing in physical copies in limited quantities. If you login to your personalized course list, it will tell you if there are physical copies in stock, including pricing.

What if I still don't know what Course Materials I need?
The Course Materials Information Desk can answer your in-person questions, or contact us via livechat as well, during store hours.

I came in at the beginning of the term and you had my textbook. A few weeks later when I came by again, you don't have it anymore. Why?
Always shop early to avoid disappointment!  We might be sold out. 
We also cannot hold on to textbooks forever!  Therefore, we begin to send unsold textbooks back to the publishers during Week 7-8, of any given term.

I'm trying to find my Course Materials, but why does it default to the Burnaby Campus?

To make course materials and courses easier for students to find, all courses are filtered through Burnaby regardless of campus.

How do I buy Digital Textbooks/eBooks?

Use your computing ID to login, click on My Personalized Course Materials and it will show you all the options!
1. Go to
2. Choose Burnaby Campus, then the Term, and Course(s) and click "Go"
3. Select your ebook(s) and add to cart.
4. Go to cart and check out
5. Create your user account with your SFU email address (recommended)
6. Check your SFU email to get your access code to download your ebooks!​​​​​

What are My Options? Why does it only show digital version only?

To support SFU's online learning and compliance with physical distancing, we are continuing our online platform with VitalSource and Campus eBookstore (CEI) to provide student choices for digital course materials. This means that the SFU Bookstore will be focusing on providing digital course materials moving forward. We have partnered with VitalSource and Campus eBookstore (CEI) which supplies online textbooks at a significantly better prices than a physical textbook.
In the event that a textbook or novel does not have a digital equivalent, physical copies will be ordered in limited quantities.
Please Note that All digital course materials provided by the Bookstore are final sale. Prices & availability for course materials are subject to change without notice.

What is VitalSource?

VitalSource is an online textbook platform that lets students purchase and access their assigned course materials whenever and wherever they need to. VitalSource includes study tools to support a more efficient reading and review process for all students. Digital course materials from VitalSource provide enhanced accessibility options such as text to speech, zooming and font-size adjustment capabilities.
In line with SFU's core principle of sustainability, this program helps us to curtail our carbon footprint through reduced manufacturing and shipping demands while mitigating waste for a greener future. 
You can redeem your VitalSource access code by creating a Bookshelf account at Click on "Create a VitalSource account". Click here to watch a quick video on access vitalsource books and benefits of using Bookshelf. Please contac VitalSource technical support 24/7 at Or you can use LiveChat to get assistance. You can also check VitalSource's frequently asked questions first -
Note that If your course list displays a VitalSource eBook, we will generally not be ordering physical copies, or there will be limited physical copies.

What are the benefits for students using VitalSource eBooks?

VitalSource allows you to purchase the ebook duration that fits your studying habits and budget all within one page.  Not only does this contribute to student affordability, it provides instantaneous access for your first day of classes, no delivery wait times, and it's never out of stock. We strongly suggest you purchase a digital version when possible as you can obtain instant access from wherever you are - letting you learn from home while reducing your carbon footprint!

What is an Ebook?

An eBook is a digital edition of a textbook. These are available for purchase through VitalSource or Campus eBookstore (CEI) and the SFU Bookstore.  If your course list displays an eBook, we will generally not be ordering physical copies, or there will be limited physical copies.
VitalSource provides its own platform called Bookshelf where students can have access to their eBooks by logging into their account online. They may also download the Bookshelf app onto up to 4 devices (2 laptops and 2 tablet/mobile phones). This allows students access to their eBooks offline as well. Students will also have the choice to rent an eBook if they do not wish to have lifetime access.
Campus eBookstore (CEI) uses BibliU as your eReader. BibliU is a learning enablement platform that leverages digital content management, automation, and analytics to enable more efficient and effective learning. With BibliU, you can provide students with access to 2 million+ learning assets from thousands of publishers, including OER sources. BibliU provides a seamless content access experience for students through SAML integration. An account is automatically created for each student upon book purchase - no need for a code. Accessibility
features such as text-to-speech, speed reader options, screen colour adjustments, and zoom capabilities allow students to study in a way that best suits their individual learning needs. Our accessibility standards meet and exceed EU standards. Students and academics benefit from features such as deep-linking, note synchronisation across all devices, annotation, highlighting, referencing, sophisticated search functionality, offline downloads, and the ability to search notes. ​​​​
​​More about BibliU eReader
Encoding of text
All books are stored on AWS S3 in an encoded format where text is scrambled and unreadable due to the random insertion of additional words and characters. This additional injected content is indistinguishable from the real content, and requires a unique key as well as our decryption logic to hide it correctly.
Secure storage of offline titles
Titles downloaded for offline use can only be read from within the app. All files stored on the user's device are encoded with our DRM protection as explained above and are additionally encrypted with AES-256.
Copy/paste limits
Students are allowed to copy/paste text out of a book up to a publisher-set allowance.
Print limits
Students are allowed to print pages out of a book up to a publisher-set allowance.
Concurrent device limits
Students can read from a single internet-connected device at a time.
Limit on offline devices
Students can download titles for reading through the app while offline on up to 2 individual devices.

What is Campus eBookstore (CEI)?

SFU Bookstore also uses Campus eBookstore (CEI) to provide eBooks and Access Codes.  Currently CEI is fully integrated with our website, to streamline the shopping experience.  Follow the instructions, or redeem here at
If your course list displays a Campus eBookstore eBook, we will generally not be ordering physical copies, or there will be limited physical copies

How to access eBook and redeem code on the CEI platform?

Here are the videos on accessing eBooks and redeeming code on CEI Platform.

Accessing eBooks on CEI platform

How to redeem CEI eBooks code

What does "Ebook (Life)" mean?

You have access to this ISBN for the life time of the book's edition, and once a new edition comes out, it may become inaccessible.

What is an Access Code?

Access codes are provided by the SFU Bookstore and can be redeemed online to gain access to materials directly related to your course. Some access codes can be purchased on its own or with an eBook.

What is a Course Pack (CP)/Electronic Course Pack (ECP)?

This a compiled list of selected readings that are chosen by your instructor. They are then packaged as a course pack that is produced on campus. We are excited to announce that as of Spring 2021, we will now be also offering digital/electronic course packs! Please note: All course packs (both digital and physical) are final sale due to copyright laws.

I don't see any books listed for my class, what does this mean?

As Faculty and Departments submit their course material requirements to the Bookstore, we are continually in the process of obtaining course materials. Please check back closer to the start of the semester.
Alternatively, there may not be any course materials arranged through the Bookstore.  Please consult your instructor, course outline or Canvas for assigned course materials.

What is your Refund Policy for Course Materials?

Please view our most up to date Refund policy. Please Note: All digital course materials provided by the Bookstore are final sale.

How long do I have to purchase my books?

All required course materials are available to be purchased up to the end of the 6th-7th week of classes ​​​​
Unsold/over-ordered course materials (that are not re-used for the upcoming term) are returned to the publishers starting in the 7th-8th week of classes

When can I buy Course Materials for the next term?

We switch the current selling term to the next selling term, approximately one month before classes begin.
For example:
If classes start in January, you can begin purchasing course materials starting mid December
If classes start in May, you can begin purchasing course materials starting mid April
If classes start in September, you can begin purchasing course materials starting mid August 
Whenever you are ready to purchase, please click here.

What do these abbreviations & terminology used in course materials mean?

AC = Access Code
AC = Access Code. These codes can be redeemed online to gain access to materials directly related to your course. Some access codes also include an eBook.
Note: access codes are final sale.
BV = Binder Version. These packages are loose leaf versions of the textbook that are three hole punched and ready to go in a binder. Compared to the bound textbook, binder versions offer a cost savings of 20-40%.
Note: binder versions cannot be sold at buyback.
CP = Course Pack. Selected readings are chosen by your instructor and packaged in a course pack that is produced on campus.
Note: All course packs are final sale.
ECP = Electronic Course Pack.  Same as a CP (above), but available electronically.
CSTM = Custom book. These books are created specifically for your course at SFU by the instructor and ordered from the publisher.
EBOOK = eTextbook or eText. An eBook is a digital copy of the textbook and often packaged with publisher's online homework. We sell access codes for subscriptions to eBooks usually allowing access for 180 days.  EBOOK (LIFE) means you have access for the life of the edition.
PKG = Package. These are textbooks that are shrink wrap packaged with additional content, such as solutions manuals or access codes.
Prepay = This title requires prepayment.  Once you place the order, it will take 12 to 15 business days for you to receive the book and it will be final sale, non-refundable, and non-cancellable.
Required = Your instructor has indicated this course material is necessary for the successful completion of the course.
Choice = The course material is required, but you may select one of multiple options of the course material. All materials listed as Choice are the same edition, just different formats to match your preference and budget.
Recommended = Your instructor has indiated this material is not required for the course, but can be useful for self study or additional practice. Recommended titles are available in limited quantities.
ACCESS VIA SFU LIBR = This material is in electronic format (ie. eBook) that can be fully accessed by students online via the SFU Library website. The Bookstore will carry limited quantities, as the materials are available completely free via SFU Library license(s). 
NBR = No Book Required. The Faculty/Department did not request any course materials through the Bookstore.  This does not necessarily mean you don't have any materials for your course.  Your course materials may be on Canvas, on reserve in the Library, Power Point presentations, Journal articles, in class handouts, etc. Please check your course outline for further details.

What should I do if I have questions that aren't answered here?

For further assistance, please contact the Course Materials department at Or, via Livechat during store hours, where our live chat agents will be happy to help you!