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GTA Tutors: Join Alpha’s Network

Tutors Wanted


We’ve always had strong relationships with the people we serve, including teachers, students, parents, tutors, homeschoolers, and other businesses.

For over a decade we have offered a free service that connects students with local tutors, as a way to give more to that community.

The tutoring program is an extension of our core values, which involve participating in things that matter. We believe there’s a lot more to being in the “book business” than providing people with textbooks. Our mission includes knowing what is and is not working for schools and students; it’s about being able to make recommendations, offering a new teaching or learning tool, or participating in educational initiatives.

Students can easily request to connect with a tutor using the form found in the tutoring section of our website.

Tutors are invited to request a meeting with us and have their name placed on the list. When we receive a request from a student that matches a tutor’s credentials, we connect the two parties.

All tutors must have teaching and/or tutoring experience, a degree from an accredited post-secondary institution, and be able to show a recent police report or proof that you are a practicing teacher in an organization. We may also ask that you provide references.

Registered tutors will be eligible for a store discount on their teaching materials.

For more information or to get your name on the tutors list, use this link to email your CV and a brief letter.


It’s Buyback Season

BuybackPileSummer vacation is nearly upon us, which means the school year is almost done. We feel that we can safely assume that the majority of your time is now spent planning and thinking about all of the fun you’re about to have in July and August.

But the end of the school year is also a time to plan for selling your no-longer-needed textbooks back to Alpha Textbooks to recoup some of your schools expenses.

Every year, families spend a lot of money on resources students rely on to succeed in the classroom. Textbooks, novels and e-resources, to name a few, are staples of a student’s educational arsenal.

But what happens when the school year comes to a close and students don’t need those resources anymore?

Without a system in place to collect surplus school supplies, those resources can end up in a closet collecting dust, or even in a landfill. Neither of these outcomes are sustainable practices, nor do they help families stretch their budget for school expenses.

When textbooks go unused, or are thrown away, we are forced to replace them, and we use up more of a natural resource – paper.

Here at Alpha Textbooks, we strive to encourage our customers to help us keep gently-used school resources in circulation by selling their books back to us.

Saving money is a major concern for many people. By helping us operate as a sustainable company, our customers get the opportunity to get back some of the money they spent at the beginning of the school year. Furthermore, they earn credit that can offset the price of their educational materials for the following year.

With the help of our customers, we’ve been able to sustain the life cycle of thousands of educational materials, and in doing so, we’ve helped many families recoup some of their school expenses. And we’re just getting started.

We Launched Our New Website!

Welcome to Alpha Textbooks’ new and improved website! We hope you like what we’ve done with the place.

With its improved user-friendly experience, the new website ensures that we keep our promise of providing exceptional service and goods, while helping families, teachers and schools save money.

Our fully functional e-commerce website is going to make it simple to purchase educational materials; and with its modern design, the site is very easy on the eye.


new website - homepage


But we didn’t stop at a fancy makeover and improved functionality. We also expanded the website to include new, enhanced features.

The new site comes with a more comprehensive school supply catalogue with more images and an advanced search function. Convenience is the name of the game; so you’re going to love the ability to order your books and supplies in one place.

The site also makes it easy to save money – which is something everyone will love. Whether you’re saving up for retirement, a Playstation or a vacation, it’s always helpful when the companies you regularly buy products from make saving money effortless. That’s why our new website applies discounts and credits to your order the moment you make a purchase.

Another neat feature is our new community initiatives section. Here, we highlight inspiring and motivational stories about the work we do in our community. Why do we do this? We do it because it’s important to us to get out and help our community. So we hope you enjoy our cheerful community success stories, and we look forward to sharing more of them with you.

But that’s not all! The new site also comes with an updated school list, fully automated backordering, news and staff picks sections, and more promotions for schools and families, to name a few.

We have a goal we strive to achieve at Alpha; and that’s to provide products and services that make purchasing quality educational materials simple and cost-effective for schools and families. Our new website brings us closer to that goal.

Planting Trees With The TRCA

IMG_0109On Thursday, May 5, Alpha Textbooks, along with its sister company, BookSwap, planted trees in the GTA for the third straight year. Working with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), Alpha and BookSwap employees went to the Claireville Conservation Area in Brampton, Ontario to participate in the TRCA’s annual spring reforestation efforts.

The Claireville Conservation area is 848 acres of natural and forested area that spans the peel region and Toronto. It’s the largest natural setting of its kind, and it is on the threshold of four major GTA cities: Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, and Vaughan. It has been part of the TRCA’s reforestation efforts for many years now.

Our team spent the day planting two types of trees: white spruces and white pines. Along with TRCA staff Luke, Michael, Ali, and Whitney, the group worked hard to get as many trees in the ground as possible.image1

“It was a good day for tree planting,” said Howard Cohen, company president. “The weather was nice, the geese were out, we planted a lot of trees, and we had fun.”

BookSwap has donated trees to the TRCA for their annual spring reforestation efforts for over ten years now. The trees were donated by BookSwap on behalf of the schools and school departments that purchased $250 dollars or more in books with BookSwap the previous year.

For the past few years, Alpha Textbooks and BookSwap has taken its sustainability efforts further by participating in the actual planting.

Congratulations go out to the TRCA, the employees, and the schools that had a tree planted on their behalf. Reforestation is vital to the environment and it’s good for the community. Great work everyone!IMG_0115

Welcome Julie Martin, Director of Strategy and Operations

Julie MartinThe Alpha Textbooks family is growing! We are thrilled to introduce our new Director of Strategy and Operations Julie Martin. Julie brings her wealth of experience in business development, strategy and client relations to the Alpha Textbooks team.

“I’m excited to join the energetic and passionate team at Alpha Textbooks,” Julie said. “Alpha’s customer-centric culture, focus on environmental and social sustainability, and ability to adapt to technological changes have been the keystones of its success, making it a company I’m proud to be a part of.”

It is an exciting time of growth and renewed visioning at Alpha Textbooks, and Julie is a valuable addition to the company. As we grow and seek new ways to enhance our business operations to provide the great service our clients and customers have come to expect of us, Julie’s expertise is key to fulfilling our vision.

“With my own success in strategy, marketing, and financial positions, I look forward to leveraging my skills to ensure Alpha Textbooks continues to provide a satisfying and enriching experience to everyone we serve,” Julie said.

As we prepare to launch new operations improvements at Alpha, Julie’s start at the company is timely. “Customers and clients should expect some positive changes to the way we do business, including technological developments,” said Cris Costa, Alpha’s communications manager. “Staying relevant and in tune with the changing demands of schools and education, while keeping our services easy and affordable is Alpha’s top priority. We’re very happy that Julie has joined us.”



2015 in Review ~ Thank you!


As we wrap up the year, the team at Alpha Textbooks wants to thank you for making 2015 great.

2015 was a year of breaking records at Alpha and we couldn’t have done it without you.

With your help, contributions and support we:

Our blog readership – both visitors and views – doubled in 2015 compared to 2014.

We also published more articles, got feedback on our content, and offered you more useful information about the topics and products you care about. Thank you for helping us find better ways to satisfy your needs as readers and our valued customers.

Thank you for being a part of the Alpha Textbooks Community.

We wish you good health and happiness in 2016.

Happy New Year!

We raised $1050 for Kids Help Phone during our 2015 peak season

KidsHelpPhoneEvery year, Alpha Textbooks collects donations, both online and in store, to raise money for Kids Help Phone.

Supporting Kids Help Phone has been important to us for many years. We know that supporting children and teens through difficult times is critical to their success in school and later in life.

In 2015, we renewed our pledge to Kids Help Phone and reinvigorated our donation-drive for the duration of the back-to-school season. Customers were asked to donate $2 at checkout, in store and online.

The 2015 drive was successful. We surpassed our goal of $1000 and collected $300-400 more than we have in recent years.

While the team at Alpha Textbooks feels that we can collect more in future years, we’re happy about our success in 2015. More donations mean more awareness about the important service.

This year, Kids Help Phone expanded their online services by adding more time and resources to their live chat – a feature that has been growing in popularity over the years. They also introduced a new resource designed exclusively for teen boys, BroTalk.



Teen Boys are less likely to reach out for help, despite having equal needs for counseling and other support services. As a result, teen boys are more likely to die by suicide than teen girls. Addressing the root causes of this is at the core of the new service. To learn more about BroTalk and/or how you can support it, visit Kids Help Phone’s organizational site.

Thanks to Kids Help Phone for teaching us more about their services and plans for the future.

A special thanks to all of our customers who generously donated this year.

Students, schools and sustainability: great things happen when you put your mind to it



Sustainability is an important cause for most bookstores, and it’s a key cause for us at Alpha Textbooks. Our business relies on the use of a major natural resource – paper. This is why it is important for us to continue to make our business environmentally sustainable, and to give back to the communities that support us.

Howard PlantingOne way that we give back is by participating in an annual tree planting event with our sister company, BookSwap Inc. BookSwap plants a tree on behalf of every school or school department that orders more than $250 dollars in book orders in one year. In 2015, the plant took place on Earth Week in Caledon, and in 2014, we participated in the reforestation of Tommy Thompson Park on Toronto’s waterfront. BookSwap has been donating trees to the TRCA since 2006. On the day-to-day level, we make a conscious effort to reduce paper waste in the office. There is one initiative, however, that is unique to Alpha: new in 2015, we now have a worm farm.

Alpha Textbook president, Howard Cohen, says that this is something he has always wanted to do, “I have a degree in biology, and I’ve always been big on protecting our environment.”

“A worm farm is an incredible example of the cycle of life. The worms consume any fruit or vegetable, as well as shredded paper, and turn it into fertilizer. This in turn will be used in our home and office plants, as well as our gardens. The worms will eat their weight in scraps daily and then turn the compost into soil,” Cohen explains. “It’s stuff that normally gets thrown out anyway. This way, it has a purpose. It’s reusable and sustainable.” And it makes great, nutrient rich, soil. All the staff at Alpha enthusiastically participate in the development of the worm farm, by using appropriate lunch leftovers to contribute to the compost.

What we love as much as the worm farm is seeing schools implement their own sustainability programs. Schools like Rowntree Montessori School and St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School have noteworthy environmental initiatives.

Rowntree teaches students the importance of sustainability at a young age. Commencing in grade one, students learn how the recycling process works and what happens at the local recycling plant.

St. Mildred's

The playground at St. Mildred’s eco-wing.

St. Mildred’s has created an eco-wing at the school. The wing targets five specific categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, energy and atmosphere, and materials and resources. The eco-wing comes complete with motion censored lights, a daylight harvesting system, and a rainwater cistern.

Rowntree and St. Mildred’s have set a great example for students and teachers who wish to keep their schools sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint.


As many of you already know, the beginning of summer marks the beginning of Alpha’s BuyBack season. Putting books back into circulation is a huge part of how we give back to the environment. It helps reduce production of new books when there are many already printed that can be used again to teach, while offering reconditioned books to students at reduced prices.

This year, to bring home the message, a team at Alpha has been working to connect to the schools we visit and our greater community. We are aiming to remind them about the importance of putting their books back into circulation. It’s not uncommon that high school graduates bring us their books from as far back as grade nine! So this year, we’ve been working on reminding people to bring their books in early – the best time is at the end of June and in July. So, we hope to see you in the store with books to sell. Don’t forget to ask about our worm farm when you visit!


BookSwap Celebrates Earth Week 2015 with Tree Planting

Howard PlantingFor Earth Week 2015, our sister company, BookSwap, braved a cold and windy day to participate in spring tree planting with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) Living City program.

For over a decade, BookSwap has been donating trees for annual spring reforestation by the TRCA. The trees are donated on behalf of the schools and school departments who purchased $250 dollars or more in books with BookSwap for that previous year. That means almost every school and department that orders books from BookSwap has a tree planted on their behalf.

Teens coming to plantIn the last two years, BookSwap participated in the actual planting. This year BookSwap went out to Valleywood Fernbrook Park, along the Etobicoke Creek Trail in Caledon, Ontario. A group of approximately 40 students from a local high school came out for the plant, too. Using the training, guidance and support provided by the TRCA, the trees were planted quickly and well.

“It was really cold out there,” said BookSwap communications manager Cris Costa. “The freezing cold winds surprised most of us. So we got down to business and planted as fast as we could. Then it felt like the trees were planted it no time. It was fun.”

ShovelsWe want to congratulate the TRCA’s Living City program, all the teens in Caledon who helped out, and the schools who had a tree planted on their behalf. You’re doing great work for the environment and our communities. Keep it up!

Congratulations to Kaitlyn Gardiner and Celestial Santiago for their 2014 Alpha Textbooks Short Story Contest win!

Kaitlyn Holding up Prize 2014

Kaitlyn, middle school winner

In September 2014 we launched our inaugural short story contest. The contest was open to all Ontario students in middle school and high school. Two prizes of an iPad mini were up for grabs, one for the middle school category and one for the high school category.

We would like to congratulate Celestial Santiago, grade 12 student at St. Edmund Campion Secondary School in Brampton, and Kaitlyn Gardiner, grade seven student at St. Julia’s CES of Mississauga, who both won the prize. Both students are from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board – a chance coincidence.

We brought back our short story contest after a long hiatus, and we’re glad we did. Inspired by our history of community building and educational initiatives, we hoped that the contest would promote the importance of literary skills and reading.

Over the summer our team worked day and night, contacting school boards and independent schools to share the contest information. Much to our delight, we received over a hundred submissions, and some really great stories.

Our panel of five volunteer judges, Ontario teachers, read the stories anonymously. From the initial batch of stories they created a shortlist.

The final selections were close; the judges expressed that it was hard to choose between the stories on the shortlist. Winners were selected by the most number of nominations followed by the rank of their nomination.

All runners-up and honourable mentions are available on the contest webpage.

Feedback from the students and parents was great. Students loved the opportunity to try their hand at the art of writing, and many felt inspired to continue to write more.

Since Alpha Textbooks values reading as an important part of learning, we want to encourage our communities to engage with literature in every way possible. The challenge of writing stories is both thrilling and important to cognitive development. We look forward to hosting the contest for many more years.