Course Materials: FAQs

What do you mean by Single Sign-On (SSO)/"My Personalized Course Materials"?

Our website now has the capability to generate 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. Next, it will display your personalized textbook list (both digital and/or physical), including pricing. Select what you want to put in your shopping cart and securely 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. Scan the signs with the QR code or go to, click on Course Materials>My Personalized Course Materials and follow the Single Sign-On instructions.  Then, you will see your customized list, grab your physical textbooks and pay at the cashiers upstairs, or checkout online if it's an eBook/digital course material(s).

What if I don't know the author's last name?
We've made it super easy! Use the Single-Sign On feature described above.  Your customized list will show each course you've registered for as well as the Author's last name for each course material that your prof/dept requested, including up to date pricing.  

Do you have physical books for all my courses? Can I check if you have a physical book in stock?
As we slowly resume regular operations, we will bring in more and more physical titles, as applicable. If digital options (VitalSource or CEI) are available, we will bring in physical copies in limited quantities. Use the Single Sign-On feature described above, and it will tell you if there are physical copies in stock, including up to date pricing.

What is the price of my textbook/eBook?
Use the Single Sign-On feature described above to view your customized list of Course Materials, as well as the most up to date pricing.

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, as we might be sold out.  Also, many required course materials are already available up to two weeks before classes start.
As the term progresses, we cannot hold on to textbooks forever.
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.

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!​​​​​ (make sure you use the same email address)

What are My Options? Why does it only show the 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 eBooks and digital course materials provided by the Bookstore are final sale, no refunds. 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 in addition to the eBook

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 - some titles even have Lifetime duration.  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 (or anywhere) while reducing your carbon footprint!

What is an Ebook?

An eBook is a digital edition of a textbook. These are subscription based with various durations (from 180 days to Lifetime of the edition) and 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 in addition to the eBook.
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) 
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 
Please makes sure you use the same email address when creating your CEI account and redeeming your eBook/access code
If your course list displays a Campus eBookstore eBook, we will generally not be ordering physical copies, or there will be limited physical copies in addition to the eBook

How do I access my eBook and/or redeem a code on the CEI platform?

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

How to access your eBook on the CEI platform

How to redeem your access code on the CEI platform

What does "Ebook (Life)" mean? Do I get to keep the Ebook forever?

The publisher has granted access to this ISBN for the lifetime of the book's edition.  Once a new edition comes out, it may become inaccessible, as per the publisher's Digital Right's Management (DRM).  The publisher decides what to offer as a Lifetime subscription and then decide whether to upload them to CEI and VitalSource. 
For example, a VitalSource Lifetime subscription means, "Once your online access has ended the perpetual download license enables you to continuously access the eTextbook offline through our free Bookshelf application even after the online license expires."
The other typical subscription durations are 180 days or 365 days.  We data enter the subscription length directly into the beginning of the title of the Ebook for full transparency.

What is an Access Code?

Access codes (publisher and bookstore) 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 carefully 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 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 and putting them up on our website. If you don't see any books listed for your class yet, 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,  check your 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.

Can I sell my textbooks back to you? When is your next Buyback?

Textbook Buybacks (sell your textbooks) are temporarily suspended until further notice.
Also, we are not taking book donations at this time.  Please inquire with your local libraries for donation information.

How long do I have to purchase my books?

We cannot hold on to texbooks forever!
All required course materials for your term 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 flip the switch to sell next term's course materials on our website 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. 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 title is in electronic format (ie. eBook) that can be fully accessed for free by students online via the SFU Library website. Type in the ISBN of the book in the SFU Library website search bar and navigate to the eBook.  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!