A Beginner’s Guide to College Textbook Rental

college textbook rental

Depending on who you ask, college students are spending anywhere between $415 and $1240 on required course materials like textbooks each academic year. Why do college textbooks tend to cost so much? One of the biggest culprits of these high costs is the high publication rate of new editions. Even if the same basic book is being used year after year, a new edition likely came out recently that you’ll need to use–and that might cost a fortune. College textbook rental is the most practical approach to keeping textbook costs low.

The question is, how do you find cheap textbook rentals for college? What procedures should you follow once you’re using a rental textbook? We’re here to answer all of the questions you may have about textbook rental as you enter into higher education. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

Step 1: Go Through Your Syllabi and Get ISBN Numbers for Your Textbooks

One mistake that’s easy to make as a first-year student is searching for your textbooks by author or title, alone. Instead, you want to search for your textbooks using the ISBN number that your professors provide in their syllabi. (If they don’t include an ISBN number, you can assume that a specific edition isn’t required–but this is rare.)

Why does it matter? Remember how we were talking about all those different editions of the same book? Most of the time, the changes from one edition to the other aren’t that substantial, but there’s a glaring issue here.

One of the ways that textbook publishers keep you coming back for new editions is by totally reorganizing their books. That means that when you go to do the assigned reading in an old edition, you’re going to have trouble. 

Make sure you get the right edition by searching for your books by ISBN number.

Step 2: Use Our Database to Find College Textbook Rental Options

Now, it’s time to figure out where to rent your textbooks! There are tons of different textbook rental websites out there and strangely enough, they tend to offer different prices for the same books. 

That’s why we came up with our college textbook rental database. You can search by title, author, and subject (in addition, of course, to ISBN number) to find just about every textbook in use today. Then, you can easily price compare your options, look at different rental agreements, and find the best textbook rentals for your needs. 

(Looking for cheap ebook options? Take a look at our new ebook price comparison tool to find the best prices on the latest ebooks.)

Step 3: Use Your College Textbook Rentals With Care

Of course, the biggest difference between buying and renting your textbooks is that after a certain period of time, you have to send the rental back. With that being said, there is also a difference in how you can handle a textbook if you’ve rented it, rather than buying it.

Ultimately, the goal is to make sure that your rental textbook remains in good condition for the next student to use it. Most rental textbook websites outline specific parameters and expectations. However, they tend to follow along the same lines.

Do your best to keep your rental textbooks damage-free. That means avoiding water damage, coffee spills, torn pages, and severely cracked or broken spines. We know that these types of damage aren’t always in your control, so it is truly a do-your-best situation.

When you’re using your rental textbooks, keep highlighting and underlining to a minimum. Most rental textbook websites don’t allow note-taking in the margins, so you’ll want to have your computer or a notebook and pen on hand when you do your assigned readings. We also recommend keeping some small sticky notes or tabs around so that you can mark important pages without writing in the book or dog-earring the page. 

Step 4: Extend Your College Textbook Rentals If You Need To

Most college textbook rentals come in increments of 30, 90, or 160 days. However, this doesn’t always line up with how long you’ll actually need your books.

Maybe you placed your order without taking finals week into account. Maybe you realize that you need that same book next semester for another class.

No matter your reason, most websites will allow you to extend your college textbook rental if necessary. It will come with a fee and it’s important to extend your rental before the due date.

Step 5: Return Your College Textbook Rentals

What happens when your rental period is up? It’s time to return your college textbook rentals!

Since almost all textbook rental companies operate online nowadays, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to drop them off in person. Instead, you’ll need to mail them back.

We always recommend hanging onto the packaging your textbooks came in. That way, you have the perfect packaging to use to send them back. If you lost track of that packaging, don’t sweat it–find a box or parcel that fits your books nicely and you’re good to go.

Next, print out the prepaid postage slip provided by the rental company. Tape it to the package so that it’s easy to read and scan. You may also need to print other documents to place inside of the package as specified by the company.

Once your package is ready to go, head to the student mailing center (or another appropriate mailing facility) to get it in the mail.

Save Money on Textbooks With Cheap Textbook Rentals for College

College textbook rental is an important part of saving money as a college student. Why overpay for the latest editions for all of your textbooks when you can rent them at a reduced cost?

Looking for more ways to save money as a college student? Take a look at our blog for tips, tricks, and money-saving guides.