Dollars and Common Sense: Why Textbook Rentals Are Best for Gen Ed Courses

textbook rentals

Textbook rentals can save college students money, and that’s always desirable. The most significant drawback to text rentals, though, is (of course) that you can’t keep them once the courses for which they were purchased have ended.

Ordinarily, this isn’t a problem since many students won’t revisit the subject in their lifetimes—regardless of how much they might have enjoyed learning it. Plus, many textbooks will quickly become outdated and no longer of much use.

So, are textbook rentals really the best option for Gen Ed courses? Yes, most of the time, they are. We’ll tell you why.

General Education (Gen Ed) Courses

Gen Ed courses derive from a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences that espouses a belief that undergraduate college students should graduate with a well-rounded and broadly applicable education.

It’s not that these students shouldn’t have majors, minors, certificates, and other focuses. Rather, the idea is that all of their courses complement one another, even if it’s in abstract or loosely defined ways.

Books and the knowledge and insight they bring are things to treasure for sure. Still, most textbooks are also quite costly. A lot of students need to set priorities with their budgets. You just need to rent textbooks sometimes, and that’s OK.

Should You Ever Not Rent a Textbook

There easily could be Gen Ed courses that a student enjoys so much that she decides to major in one (or more) of those subjects. In this case, renting the textbooks might turn out not to have been the best idea.

Perhaps, though, the student will have some inkling beforehand that a course’s subject matter would appeal to her. In this case, she’d know not to rent the books for that particular course and could keep them for reference throughout her studies.

Even the most engaging textbooks become outdated quickly, though. That’s largely intentional on the part of publishers, who run a cycle of continuous textbook updates—every three years for most.

If you’re thinking of keeping your textbook as a reference source, we advise you to be sure it’s something you’ll use. After all, there are lots of books and websites explicitly developed to be reference sources.

Honestly, you might be better off just using one of those. In fact, many instructors add those to their textbook order as optional but  “recommended” books. It might be time for more students to take the recommendations and save on the required texts.

How Textbook Publishing Works Today

In a college subject like media studies, people will argue that the content changes so rapidly that textbooks need frequent updates. This way, presumably, students can enter the job market with the most current knowledge possible.

This isn’t the case for every subject, though. A lot of subject matter (and those who teach it) rely on the same essential information and teach the same principles year after year.

The implicit goal is to stay broadly current enough outside the classroom to consider how those principles apply in real life.

We think even media studies students would be better off reading, watching, or listening to the daily news to stay current, instead of using textbooks that are already archaic the day they’re published.

Sadly, the real reason textbooks are updated so often is that publishers need to battle the secondhand book trade or the open educational resources (OERs) many instructors have wisely adopted if those publishers are to remain financially solvent.

Not all instructors use OERs, though—not by a long shot—and, thus, the issue of textbook affordability remains the fraught compromise. Remember, though, the end goal is always student learning, no matter how it’s presented.

How Textbook Rentals Benefit Students

Textbooks are so expensive that students will seek all kinds of alternatives to spending the money or purchasing the books at all. This is especially the case if the book is a new edition, and discount textbooks are not available.

Here are some examples.

  • They’ll use earlier (often very outdated) versions of the book.
  • They’ll share books with classmates, which only gives them half the time with the book than they’d get if each had separate copies.
  • They’ll borrow someone’s book and photocopy the whole thing.
  • They’ll race to the campus library regularly to check out the one reserve copy of the textbook (if there even is one on reserve).
  • They’ll try to get through the course using online and other free information sources. This happens a lot with Gen Ed courses since students can be resentful and dismissive of the Gen Ed requirement in the first place.
  • They’ll sacrifice grades and meaningful learning if they don’t get enough time with the textbook.

How effective could the learning be when students are going to such extremes to cut their textbook costs?

Book rentals can reduce book costs enough to make them affordable for many more (though not all) students. Rentals have other benefits too, which include the following.

E-Book Options

Many rental textbooks come in digital, electronic versions as well as hard copy. These e-books are a green alternative to paper books, especially since so many older paper textbooks get discarded. E-books also save students the trouble of lugging the book around.

Timing and Availability

Sometimes students can’t get access to a course textbook even if they’re able to pay for it. With bookstores hedging their bets against non-buying students or fickle instructors, the limited number of books ordered sometimes have sold out by the time a student tries to buy one.

Rental books tend to be more plentiful in hard copy since repeat rentals cover a greater portion of the production costs over time. Plus, of course, there’s an indefinite supply of e-books to rent.

So, book rentals, especially when they’re e-books, help students who otherwise might fall behind early in the term if they don’t have the assigned textbook by that point.

Gen Ed Textbooks of the Future

Textbook rentals provide comparatively cheap textbooks for students. Are these the best option for the 2020s and beyond, though? What about the OERs mentioned above? What about the abundant and free or inexpensive information on websites—much of it of good quality?

If the goal of Gen Ed courses indeed is providing students with a broad and diverse world view, then shouldn’t they enjoy a degree of say in what and how they learn? The opportunity to build their own paths under the guidance of experienced and knowledgeable teachers?

These are questions we must ask ourselves as booksellers who must constantly ad to the various directions higher education is headed in these days. Be sure you keep reading our blog to find out where we go from here.


9 Reasons to Rent Textbooks for Science Courses

rent textbooks

Science courses are information heavy and it’s near impossible to avoid textbooks. You need access to formulas, scientific research, and a laundry list of workbook tasks. There’s no getting around it.

Textbooks are a huge part of your college career and are one of your largest expenses. You have no choice but to get them, it’s impossible to take your classes without spending this money.

The ability to rent textbooks is becoming a popular choice not only to save money but for the ease of access.

You have enough to prepare for, so textbook rentals make your experience much easier. Keep reading to learn more!

Why Rent Textbooks?

Cheap textbooks are hard to find. Online marketplaces become bookstores at the start and end of every semester. An entire student body rushing to buy and sell won’t help you get the best deal.

When you choose a difficult major such as science you’ll need a lot of books.

Even if you don’t mind spending that money there’s a variety of reasons to simplify your textbook experience.

1. Convenience

Nobody wants to leave the house and you don’t have to. Textbook rentals allow you to get your supplies any time of day from anywhere in the world.

The ability to rent textbooks is a quick and easy experience. You search the book you want, rent it, and that’s it! Even returns aren’t an issue.

Your book comes with everything you need to return it at the end of the semester. Postage, envelope, the works; you have enough to worry about.

2. Latest Editions

Science is always improving. Research advances, get proven wrong and is modified on a daily basis. To keep up, your courses will have new editions of their textbooks regularly available.

This means more difficulty for you because you’ll need even newer books each time you have to buy.

Tracking down the exact edition of a book can be a headache, especially when you’re deadset on discount textbooks. Nobody wants to sell their newest copy and you can bet your school wants a premium price!

Textbook rentals avoid this problem.

3. Help the Environment

A lot goes into getting that mass of knowledge to your school store. With those constant updates, the printing never steps and this takes a toll on the world as much as your pockets.

When you rent textbooks you help to decrease the number of new books being produced. You’ll save trees just by making your life easier.

Those same books cause damage in other ways. Transportation from the factory to the store leaves a large carbon footprint.

4. Digital Materials

You aren’t restricted to physical textbooks. Tablets are more affordable, turning into the perfect option for study heavy science courses.

Digital textbook rentals can be less expensive and immensely more convenient than a book itself.

With instant delivery, the ability to remain at your side, and the space-saving benefits, digital textbooks are becoming the next best thing. 

Save your back and your wallet with digital discount textbooks.

5. Avoid the School Store

There’s nothing worse than a last-minute run to the school store. If you’re going to a university out of state your chances of getting your books early are slim.

You won’t be the only one packing in to buy everything they need if you can even get everything you need.

It’s impossible for a single store to stock enough product for an entire student body.

You’ll end up paying higher prices for more stress.

6. Affordable Supplemental texts

Teachers love their supplemental texts but rarely use them. That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful or exciting. With the number of science courses available, it’s impossible to learn everything you want from a single textbook.

When you have the ease and affordability to get more for your money you can learn a lot more. This is amazing when you have a true passion for your course.

7. Easy Returns

Teachers make mistakes. There’s nothing worse than buying an expensive textbook only to realize you’ve been given the wrong information.

Or maybe you decided a class isn’t for you.

When you rent textbooks you can contact the company and arrange an early return. No stress of storing a book or trying to pawn it off to the first available buyer.

8. No Buyback Blues

At the end of every semester, it’s the same, everybody has textbooks to get rid of.

While some schools offer a buyback program this isn’t guaranteed and the option comes at a cost. You’ll receive far less selling a book back to the school than you would if you sell it on your own. Yet selling on your own is a time sink with no guarantee of return.

With textbook rentals, you immediately know what you’re spending and avoid the stress of attempting to regain your investment.

9. Save Money

Textbook rentals will always be less expensive than buying. You can even compare the rental prices before you choose one to make sure you are spending less overall. 

Whether you’re focused on the time saved or the dollars spent you’ll be getting much more back than you put in.

When you rent textbooks you’ve streamlined your experience to a point that stress isn’t an issue. For pennies on the dollar who can pass that up?

How to Rent Textbooks

Getting discount textbooks is as easy as a click!

You can use either the title of your textbook or ISBN number to access what you need. This is a great method if you want to stick exactly to the list your professor provides.

When you go to rent textbooks, you’re also free to browse the selection of science textbooks. It’s perfect for the passionate student who wants to take their knowledge to the next level.

Where to Rent Textbooks

Ready to rent? As long as you have the internet you can rent textbooks no matter where you are. No traveling, no searching, no stress!

Cheap textbooks aren’t hard to find if you decide to rent. Save money, help the environment, and make your life easier both at the beginning and end of your semester.

Check out our selection when you’re ready to rent textbooks. We’re here to help you rent the books you need and provide advice on our blog to help your college career be successful.