Should You Buy Or Rent Your Textbooks for College?

buy or rent your textbooks

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2006 and 2016, the price of textbooks used in college rose 88%. Unfortunately, students need textbooks to help them learn subjects, even though some of them are expensive. 

Fortunately, there is now the option to rent textbooks rather than buying them. While there are some upsides to renting, there are also a few downsides.

You should learn what the pros and cons are for both so you can make the right choice

If you’re wondering whether you should buy or rent your textbooks next semester, keep reading. We’re answering the question, “is it better to rent or buy textbooks?”

Cost Shouldn’t Be the Only Consideration When You Buy or Rent Your Textbooks

While cost is a huge consideration when wondering, “should I rent or buy textbooks,” it shouldn’t be the only thing you factor in. Take some time to consider your past behavior with other textbooks you’ve owned.

Knowing how you plan to treat the book and how likely you are to return it once you’re finished can help you make the smartest decision for your needs and your budget. 

When Buying is a Smarter Idea

It’s better to buy a textbook when you’re taking a course for your major or even your minor (if you have one). You may need to use it as a reference guide in the future. 

Consider buying your books if you want to write notes in the margins. You should also buy if you’re likely to spill items on your books or they’ll experience some other form of wear and tear.

If you’re not the type of person who is good at returning items, it’s best to buy them. That way, you won’t have to worry about returning it on time and incurring more fees. 

Look for Used Versions

If money is a huge factor, try to find a used version of the book for sale. You may even notice that another student already wrote notes in the margins which may prove to be useful for your own studies. 

There are certain times when you’ll have no other option but to buy a new book. If there are additional course materials such as a CD or workbook, you’ll need to buy new no matter what. 

Always ask the professor if you can use an older version. Once you get the okay, you may find a former student is willing to lend or outright give you their old copy. 

Option to Sell Your Book When Finished

When you buy a book you also tend to have the option to sell your book back at the end of the course to the campus bookstore. A few extra bucks in your pocket is always a welcome bonus.

However, don’t be surprised when you don’t get nearly as much money from the store as you bought it for. You can always opt to sell the book online for more money. 

Be aware that if you can’t sell it locally, you may have to factor in shipping costs in the asking price. 

Share the Book With a Classmate

You also have the option to share them with a current classmate to reduce costs. Be smart and work out a schedule of when each person is entitled to use the book.

That way, you won’t end up the night before an exam without your book. 

Just make sure if you’re sharing that it’s with a responsible person who won’t lose, damage or take the shared book hostage. 

When Renting a Book is a Smarter Idea

There are times when renting a textbook makes a lot more sense. There are times when a course doesn’t use a textbook very often. If you find you only need the book the night before the exam, it’s better to rent it. 

Rent your textbooks for any course not related to your major or minor. Renting test prep books that you’re likely to never touch again after the exam is also a great idea. You won’t need to refer to the book in future courses because it’s doubtful you’ll take any more. 

Selling Books Requires Taking Action

If you’re not the type of person to get around to selling your books, rent them. Otherwise, you’ll just end up at the end of your college career with a bunch of course books you’re carting from one dorm room to the next and doing nothing with them. 

Also, if they get too old, you may be forced to just toss them out because they no longer have any resale value. While you may still be able to donate them somewhere, trying to locate a donation site and then deliver them there isn’t the type of action you’re likely to take. 

ebooks are Weightless and Take Up No Space

And if you rent an ebook, you won’t have to give up expensive real estate in your tiny little dorm room. It also won’t make your backpack any heavier than it already is. As long as you have access to your laptop, you have access to your ebook.

If you rent an ebook the best part is that you don’t have to physically return it. If you’re not very good at remembering to return items, this is a great option for you.

Renting is Less Expensive

Renting is cheaper. Whether it’s a physical book or an ebook, renting is almost always the cheaper option, even with used books.

Just make sure you know exactly when your rented books are due back. You don’t want to miss the deadline because you’re busy studying for exams or moving back home. 

Have Many Options Where You Can Rent Your Books

There are now many options available where you can rent books online. There are even some campus bookstores that provide this as a service to their students. 

You’ll Always Get the Most Recent Version

Sometimes it’s very important for you to have a copy of the latest version of a book. When you rent, you can be assured the copy you have is always the latest edition.

Rent Your Textbooks Through Us

It’s your choice whether to buy or rent your textbooks. But it makes a lot of sense to save money by renting. 

We can help you find all the textbooks you need for your courses this semester. Click here to start browsing


How to Find Cheap Textbooks and Save Money This Semester

cheap textbooks

If you’re a college student, then you’ve no doubt been dismayed about the prices of textbooks at some point. For many college courses, you can expect to spend hundreds of dollars, and that’s sometimes just on a single textbook.

The good news is that there are many methods you can use to get around these absurd prices. If you want to save money at school and get some cheap textbooks, then read on to find out how.

Older Editions

The first thing you should check out is whether or not there are any older editions of the textbook available. Often, you can find the previous year’s edition at much cheaper prices.

If you’re doing a subject that evolves quickly, there might be significant differences between the newest release of a book and the older versions. In other cases, however, there are barely any changes between a textbook from one year to the next. You might be able to get away with simply using an older textbook for a fraction of the price.

Pool Your Resources

In certain situations, it can make sense to pool your resources with another member of your class. For example, you might have a class with a friend, and you need to have 2 textbooks for the class. You might be able to just purchase 1 book per person and photocopy whatever is needed for the other person.

Sadly, this technique doesn’t always work. Many textbooks now feature codes to access online learning apps, so if you’re sharing a copy, you’ll only have one account.

Wait and See

You might’ve noticed that quite often, college classes require you to purchase a textbook and then, they use it very rarely throughout the course. It might be worth waiting to see how much the book is actually going to be used in class.

If it turns out the book is hardly ever required, you could probably get away with not buying it. Of course, this is a strategy that could potentially backfire if your school is strict about you needing to have the textbook on day one.

Ask the Professor

In some classes, you might find that the professor is just as upset over the textbook prices as the students are. Sometimes, professors will provide their students with cheaper alternatives, or they might even tell you not to bother buying the textbook at all.

When you first get your reading material, take a look at the books required. Sometimes, the professor may have been the author on the books you need to use.

This situation generally goes one of two ways. Either the professor is making some serious money on selling the textbook and will insist everyone buys it, or they may have the ability to provide everyone with free photocopies. It’s not uncommon for professors to help students save money on textbooks, so don’t rush into buying them before consulting with your professors.

Buy from Old Students

It’s no secret that the resale value on a lot of these textbooks is pretty dismal. Luckily, as a new student, you can use this to your advantage.

When old students want to sell their old textbooks, they’ll find that the university bookstore will offer only a fraction of their value for resales. This means you can easily offer a better price while saving a whole lot of money.

Sadly, the price often drops so much because a new version of the book comes out every year. In some cases, having the wrong edition might be a problem, but sometimes, you might be able to get away with it. If there’s any kind of online code involved, you might not be able to get away with buying used.

Check the Library

Sometimes, your university library might have copies of the exact textbooks you need. The trick is to check out the selection early.

These textbooks will be guaranteed to be checked out within the first few days of the semester, so you’ll need to get there early if you want a chance of getting your hands on them.

Consider Renting

Since college textbooks are priced so incredibly high, a lot of places that are prepared to rent textbooks rather than sell them have sprung up. Given how expensive these books are, it definitely makes sense to rent rather than buy them straight-up. This is especially true if you consider how little you’ll get back on these textbooks if you try and sell them back to the store.

Check Third-Party Sellers

Some of the best book deals often come from third-party sellers, such as those on Amazon. Often, you can find books on sale for just a cent at a time, excluding shipping. If you want to get the cheapest books possible, the first place you should look is third-party sellers on various platforms.

Get Cheap Textbooks

As you can see, there are plenty of methods available to you to acquire cheap textbooks. Unfortunately, for many classes, you might not be able to use any of these methods.

Sometimes, professors will require a certain book because they’re able to profit from its sale. If this is the case, there probably isn’t going to be a cheaper option for you to make use of. However, you can still make use of the other methods on this list, such as pooling resources or checking the library.

By being resourceful, you can cut your textbook spending and have more money to pay your rent and bills.

Ready to rent a textbook for your upcoming classes? Then take a look at the selection we have available for you.