With new school year looming, some huge expenses also weigh heavy at the university level, often starting with textbooks.

Depending on the program, the textbook bill can sometimes exceed $1000 for a single year.

While there is always the option of buying used books, the option isn't always practical or convenient, and often requires students to seek out and communicate with strangers through various avenues to obtain their books.

Recent John Molson School of Business graduate Gabrielle Jacques dealt with similar inconveniences. For her, it sparked an idea: What if students could buy and sell second-hand books through a single website?

Swapmybooks.ca allows students to list the textbooks they need, and sell the ones they're done with. Buyer and seller arrange the private transaction between themselves. 

Jacques got the idea after discovering university bookstores buy back used books at a tiny fraction of their value.

“If you sell it to the bookstore they give you less than ten per cent of the original price. I’ve bought books for $280, and they give me $18, even if it looks brand new,” she said.

Most universities in Canada belong to an interconnected used book market, but the problem is that many textbooks quickly get outdated, thus lowering their resale value.

“Basically, if a university can use the same book year to year, we will buy back books at 50 per cent, because we know we can sell them,” said Concordia University spokesperson Christine Mota. “There are some books unfortunately that won't be used, and that unfortunately are hard to sell.”

Swapmybooks.ca has the added advantage of cutting out the middleman.

The best way to save on secondhand books? Buy them right at the beginning of the semester, when selection is best and therefore most affordable.