Purchasing Books in Canada

There are two methods that you can purchase a book in Canada.

  • Traditional method – purchasing in person
  • Electronic method

The Traditional Method for Book Purchase

Bookstores are still active in Canada. If you look into different regions of Canadian towns you may found them sitting somewhere. Some of the bookstores are independently run by a  small company or an individual. Some of them belong to a chain of bookstores and larger companies. The largest Canadian company in this business is called Indigo Books and Music Inc. The company owns well-known stores such as Chapters, Coles, World’s Biggest Bookstore, and Indigo. The Indigo Inc. operates bookstores in all 10 provinces of Canada. The main source of revenue for these stores is through selling books. Nonetheless you could find other items for purchase too. For example they may sell stationary, maps, office ornaments, among other items. You may even find a coffee shop in many of these bookstores and sip your coffee or tea while you enjoy reading your favourite book or magazine.

Some bookstores sell antiquarian or second-hand books. You may find rare copies of books or even hand-written text (manuscript). I even found a white Canadian gentleman in one of downtown Toronto bookstores who was an expert in Quran and antique Arabic books.

Universities and colleges usually operate their own bookstores. These bookstores offer used text books among other goods. Some students sell back their used text book to these bookstores and in return other students buy them from there.

Some regular chain stores such as Walmart and Loblaws offer books too. The variety of topics they offer is usually limited to some novels, dictionaries, bestseller books, and magazines.

Electronic Method

The most common method of purchasing books electronically is through the online stores and specially amazon.ca. You may find books, movies, music, and more in this website. There are many other websites which sell books. The Indigo Inc. official website is an example.

Although majority of book readers prefer books in printed format reading books in digital format is becoming more popular nowadays. The most popular format for digital or rather e-books is PDF (by Adobe Inc.). However, many publishers are considered about copyright issues with this format. Therefore, there are many other formats available for e-books. I can for example mention a device called Kindle which belongs to Amazon.com Inc. It is a book reader which uses its own format. The latest version of Kindle comes with some extra features such as connection to Wikipedia.org the online encyclopedia. The price range for a typical book for Kindle is a lot less than its printed format. As far as I know Kindle is not directly sold in Canada yet.

Book Price

Printed books are very expensive in Canada. One reason could be due to the fact that Canadian dollar was a lot cheaper than US dollar in the past. If a book was $20 in US it could be $30 in Canada. Nowadays. Canadian dollar is almost at par with US dollar yet the price of many books remain that much different. One other reason is the existence of GST (Goods and Services Tax) or HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) in Canada. GST currently stands at 5% level, that is if you purchase a book for $30 you have to pay $31.5 (or rather 5% extra). The provinces that use HST instead of GST could charge you even more. One other important factor is the relatively high corporation tax rates in Canada which eventually affects the consumer.

How to Escape High Book Prices

The best way to avoid paying too much money for books is to borrow them from your local library. Public libraries let you borrow the books at no charge.

You may also consider purchasing used books through amazon.ca or your local bookstore or maybe even through auction websites such as eBay.

When you purchase books from amazon.ca make sure to compare the price on amazon.com too before completing your purchase. Despite higher shipping and handling rates on amazon.com the overall price could be lower because of the current strength in Canadian dollar.

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Al Parsai

This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.