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How to Buy Textbooks

Buy Textbooks and Course Materials online at

Textbook purchases can only be purchased online until September 8, 2023. Starting on September 9, 2023 you can continue to place an online order for textbooks or shop-in store for your course materials. Please choose one option only. 

Place your textbooks as early as August 2, 2023, in order to have your books to support your class work. Note that course materials availability will dwindle over the semester.  For Fall 2023, all course materials must be purchased by no later than November 13, 2023. TAP funds will not be available for the fall semster after November 13, 2023. 

Before You Buy: Formats, Book Notes, Course Notes

Many textbooks are available in a variety of formats. Your cost will vary according to the format chosen. If you place an online order and we do not have stock of your preferred format, we will automatically substitute with the stock we have available.  For example, if you designate "used preferred" and we have no remaining stock of used books, we will substitute a new book.

  • Print: New or Used
  • Rental: New or Used. Note: not all books are available to rent.
  • Digital: Materials are available as eBooks and as Access Codes. Some formats expire on a specific date, while others are a lifetime purchase – see the specific title listing. Digital materials and Access Codes have a special returns policy, see Returns section below.  Formats marked "Digital" are available for immediate download once purchased.  Formats marked "Access Code" have a physical component and can not be immediately downloaded.
  • Book Notes indicate additional information about a title or item. For example, a book note may indicate that title is available digitally for no charge through Swarthmore College Libraries’ Tripod system; contact [email protected] with any questions about library materials.
  • Course Notes are specific to the course and provide additional information from the faculty member. The course note may show substitutes that are acceptable for that particular course. For example, if a digital tablet is required, the course note may show other tablets with particular attributes that are acceptable for that particular course.

Before You Buy: Optional Custom List of Course Materials

You can create a custom list of course materials for your own registered courses.

To create a custom list:

  1. Go to
  2. At the top of the page, select Course Materials, then Course Materials List.
  3. Log in with your Swarthmore College Login. (Note: Duo Authentication will be required.)
  4. The Store website’s "Select Term and Departments" page will open.
  5. Click the first button entitled Search Course Materials for your enrolled classes via My Swarthmore.
  6. You will be linked to the mySwarthmore "[Specific semester] Courses for [student]" page.
  7. Click the blue button Click here to view course materials.
  8. The Campus Store page "Course Materials" comes up with your the course materials for the courses for which you are registered.  You can use that list for comparison and textbook selection.
  9. From here, you can print the book list for reference or place your online order.
  10. To see course materials for courses for which you are not registered, simply use the separate pull down menu to select the course department and course number.

TAP Balance

TAP funds consist of $790 Campus & Community Store credit per academic year for fully enrolled students. After each textbook order is completed, the student’s TAP balance is printed on the register receipt or packing list.

To check your TAP Balance online, go to Materials and click on Check My TAP Balance.  TAP Balances will be available once textbook purchasing is open for the semester.  To see your TAP balance online, you will need to log in. If using a mobile device, go to and see the menu at top right, represented by three horizontal lines.  Click on the menu and choose 'Course Materials' from the drop-down list, log in when requested, then click on Check My TAP Balance.  

 The TAP balance always reflects completed charges as of midnight the previous day. Note that the balance reflects completed charges only, and does not reflect backorders or book orders that have not been filled and charged.  You can see backorders and outstanding book orders by logging into your account at, or refer to your emailed order acknowledgements.

Alternately, you can email [email protected] with your student ID number and request your TAP balance, or ask at the front counter.   

How to place an Online Course Materials Order

You may purchase your books in person (after September 8, 2023) or place an online order for pick up or to be shipped.  To have your online order charged to your TAP fund, pay special attention to the instructions that are shown in bold.

  1. Log in with your Swarthmore College Log-In, which requires Duo Authentication.
  2. When asked for your account number, use your student ID number.
  3. Enter each of your registered courses and select from the offered titles, or create a custom course list for your registered courses, as referenced above.
  4. For each title, select the format (new, used, rental, or digital), then add the item to your cart.
  5. Once you have added all the items you wish to purchase, click Continue Checkout.
  6. A list of everything in your cart will appear. Make sure the quantities and titles are correct.
  7. Click Continue Checkout.
  8. Two pop-up messages about textbooks preferences and substitutions will appear.
  9. The first pop-up message will ask how to handle changes to your order -- select your preference. Select Continue.
  10. The second pop up message will ask your preferred condition of the book -- select your preference.
  11. You will be directed back to your shopping cart.
  12. Select Payment Options.
  13. A checkout screen will appear for you to select Pickup Order or Ship Order. Students living on campus should select ‘Pickup Order.’
  14. If having your order shipped, edit shipping address if needed. Select Fed-Ex shipping. If Fed-Ex doesn't ship to your location, the Store will substitute a different carrier.  Note that shipping is not covered by TAP Funds, and will be charged to your credit card.
  15. Select Continue.
  16. A Payment Information screen will appear. Important: If you want your order charged to your TAP Fund, from the drop-down menu you must select ‘TAP Funds’ as your primary form of payment. Video - How to apply TAP funds as your payment.
  17. You will also be required to submit a credit card, which will be used if you have exceeded your TAP balance for textbooks, and to cover shipping if applicable.
  18. Click Submit Payment.

You will receive an email acknowledgement that your order has been successfully submitted to the Store. If picking up in the Store, wait for the second email, entitled Order Confirmation, which indicates that your order has been packed. Please allow 24 to 48 hours for processing. Before coming to the Store, check the posted hours for Textbook Pick-Up. Please have your 5-digit order number ready when picking up in the store, and on all correspondence.

Item Backordered: The student will be notified if a specific title is on backorder. Most backordered titles arrive in the Store within a week to ten days. The student may cancel the backorder by emailing [email protected] with the 4-digit order code and the exact title to be cancelled. Note that once the backordered title is packed or shipped, the student will receive an order confirmation, and the backorder can no longer be cancelled.

A credit card is required for every online order, regardless of TAP balance: Even if TAP is chosen as the primary form of payment, the website requires that the student enter a credit card as a secondary form of payment, in case the order exceeds the student’s available TAP balance or includes a shipping charge.

If your completed order was charged to your credit card instead of TAP: If your order was charged to your credit card, and you still have a TAP credit balance, you may have made a mistake when attempting to choose TAP Funds as your primary form of payment. Unfortunately, by law the Store is not allowed to change the tender on an order. The easiest way to change the tender is to bring the books with receipt to the Store, to be returned and then charged to a different tender. If that isn't possible, email the Store at [email protected] with your 5-digit order number to discuss changing your form of tender. 

If you have a question about your order, email [email protected] with your question and your 5-digit order number.

Downloading eBooks and Access Codes

  • Read Before You Download: Digital books, including eBooks and access codes, can not be returned for credit once they have been downloaded. In addition, digital books may only be returned for credit within 14 days of purchase or by the Store’s returns deadline, whichever is first.
  • Downloading an eBook: You can access your eBook immediately after you receive your Order Confirmation by logging into your bookstore account. On the ‘Welcome’ page, select Activate and Access eBooks. An image of your eBook will be on your bookshelf. Hover over the eBook cover image and follow the prompts to begin downloading.
  • Downloading a Bundled Access Code: Some print books are bundled with an access code for digital material, and the two are sold together for a single price.  That sealed access code will be provided with the print book and can be downloaded once you purchase the book. 
  • Downloading a Stand-alone Access Code:  If you purchase a stand-alone access code, the Store will provide you the unique code and instructions for accessing it.

Some Course Materials must be Special Ordered

  • Recommended and Optional Books: The Store stocks on its shelves textbooks that the faculty member has indicated are 'required.' 'Recommended’ and ‘Optional’ textbooks are listed on the Store's website and covered by TAP funds, but are not stocked on the Store's shelves. The deadline to order 'recommended' and 'optional' course material for Fall 2023 is September 29, 2023.  Once the Store receives the online order, the recommended or optional material will be special ordered on your behalf, and are non-returnable.  Initially these materials will be listed on your receipt as backordered.  Special orders for recommended and optional course materials will take 7 to 10 days to arrive in the Store.  You will receive an order confirmation when the materials are ready for pick-up.
  • Independent Study, Directed Reading, Thesis, Capstone, Tri-Co Philly:  Books for courses in this category must be special ordered via email.  Email [email protected] with your requested book list, including ISBNs, and copy your faculty member for their approval.  See the published deadline on the website for Special Orders. Deadline to order Independent Study, Directed Reading, Thesis, Capstone and Tri-Co Philly is September 29, 2023 .  The Textbook Manager will notify you about availability.  Books for these course types may be purchased with TAP funds, but note that these materials are non-returnable.  Special orders for independent course materials will take 7 to 10 days to arrive at the Store. You will receive an order confirmation when the materials are ready for pick-up.
  • Books for registered courses at Bryn Mawr or Haverford may also be special ordered.  Email the Textbook Manager, David Urbany at [email protected] with the course location, name, and course number, and specify which books you would like to order.  Note that your order is non-refundable.  The textbook manager will order the textbooks from their college bookstore, and charge your TAP account for them.  The Store will notify you when the books are ready for you to pick up at the Swarthmore Campus & Community Store.

Returning Course Materials for a Refund

  • Returns for Refund: With a receipt, course materials can be returned for credit to the original form of tender. The last day to return course materials for Fall 2023 courses is September 18, 2023.
  • Printed course materials may be returned for credit to the original form of tender through the Store’s posted Returns Deadline. Books must be returned in the same condition as when they were purchased. Shrink-wrapped books must have the shrink-wrap intact.  Print books bundled with digital materials are subject to the digital materials rules below.
  • Digital materials can not be returned once they are downloaded.  Non-downloaded digital materials must be returned within 14 days of purchase or by the Store’s Returns Deadline, whichever is first.

Students on campus may return their books to the Store in person. Note that the cost of shipping a book return back to the Store is not covered by TAP funds.

Returning Rented Books

The deadline for rental returns is usually on the last day of final exams. The deadline is shown on the student’s rental book receipt and return agreement. If a student doesn’t return a rented book by the deadline, the student will be charged the purchase price minus the rental price already paid, with no late fees or penalties. That amount can be charged to the student’s TAP funds, if there is an available credit balance. The student then owns the book.

If You Have Questions About Your Textbook Purchase

We are happy to answer your textbook questions!  Stop by the Store, email the Store at [email protected], or call us at 610-328-7756.  If you placed your order online, please include your 5-digit order number.
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