Renting Versus Buying Your Textbooks

By Brenda on September 28th, 2011



With the average student spending nearly $1,000 per year on textbooks, rental options for books have become a hot topic.  More and more students are considering renting their textbooks rather than buying them.

While not all are cost effective, below is a list of options available to college students when it comes to purchasing textbooks:

  1. Buy from the onsite bookstore

The college bookstore traditionally was the only place to purchase books required for your classes.  Students received assurance that the bookstore would buy back their textbooks at the end of the semester, but the buyback price was pennies on the dollar.  The ease of buying textbooks in the bookstore is fairly smooth, although lines can get fairly heavy during prime season.

2.  Buy used books from the bookstore

While some students prefer brand new textbooks, others don’t mind if there are some notes in the margin or hi-lighted keywords.  Used books from the bookstore can save you as much as 25%, and the school may be willing to buy the book back at the end of the term if there is little damage or wear and tear.

3. Buy from online bookstores

An online bookstore may not have any affiliation with your college, but will save you a lot of money.  In comparison to new textbook prices from your own college bookstore, an online store can save you up to 50% of the list price.  This is a huge savings on books and something any college student would welcome.  Why not save some of the money spent on books and use it toward food!

4. Rent from a textbook company

One of the latest and greatest inventions when it comes to college textbooks is the book rental company.  Most fees for renting textbooks is less than 50% of the original price of the book.  The savings are huge when renting books, which allow you to utilize your money elsewhere.

There are, however, a couple of drawbacks when renting textbooks.  First of all, you cannot write in the book.  This may pose a problem when you are reading and want to note some key pieces in the book.  This issue can be solved by using a computer or notebook while reading.  Notes can be taken during the process which doesn’t involve writing in the book.

Another drawback to renting your textbook is the wait time.  While most companies promise a speedy delivery, days may pass before receiving your shipment.  If you receive your syllabus late and have assignments due, this could pose a problem.  Some students are willing to risk it due to the cost savings they receive when renting books.  Professors and instructors may be willing to make copies of required reading if you explain your circumstance to them ahead of time.

The textbook buying process used to be one giant racketeer, but over the past decade more and more options have become available to the student.  Through careful research and understanding, students can become more informed about the textbook buying or renting options.


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