How to Choose Between Renting and Buying Textbooks

buying textbooks

The average college textbook prices have risen more than 1000 times during the last four to five decades. The amount of financial burden on top of the college students’ educational fees every term is often too much to bear.

According to a recent survey, an average undergraduate student spent around $1240 on buying textbooks and supplies in the 2020-21 academic year. That’s a lot. However, these textbooks are a pertinent part of learning, and students cannot sustain themselves without them. 

If you are wondering if there is an alternative to spending thousands of dollars on buying textbooks every year, you may find renting textbooks quite a convenient option. Continue reading to get an insight into the two options and find out if renting or buying textbooks suits your needs.

Renting vs. Buying Textbooks – Pros and Cons

Whether you have just joined a college or are a seasoned student, you may be faced with the choice between buying and renting. The decision, however, must be made by taking multiple factors into account. In this section, we will highlight the pros and cons of both, which may assist you in making a decision.

The Perks of Buying Textbooks

Buying textbooks may be expensive. However, it does have a few benefits. Let’s have a look:

  • If there is an essential textbook that you can use throughout your academic years, it is perhaps wiser to buy it to continue to use it as reference material. 

    For instance, if you are a business student, you may find basic management or marketing books very useful for refreshing simple concepts, even during the advanced years of your degree and later on in your career. 
  • When you own a textbook, you do not have to worry too much about writing on it or highlighting the important points for future reference.
  • There are a few places from where you can buy used textbooks. Price comparisons will show that they will not cost you as much as a brand new book and help you save money.
  • When you finish with the textbook, you can sell it and earn some money as well.

The Cons of Buying Textbooks

  • When you buy a textbook, you pay for the book content and the research, the making of the book, and its publishing. Therefore, buying textbooks comes with quite a hefty price and may set you back by a considerable margin.
  • Selling is not everyone’s cup of tea. While you always have the option of selling the textbook when you no longer need it, you may find the selling process quite a hassle and time-consuming. Therefore, if you are not up to selling, you may find renting a better option.
  • Even if you sell the books, you may be surprised at the amount you get in comparison to the price at which you bought it in the first place. Reselling the book may not always be very lucrative.
  • If you can’t sell it, you will have to store it. As a college student, you may already be falling short of space. Stacking up used textbooks in an already limited space may prove to be quite a challenge.

The Pros of Renting Textbooks

  • In comparison to buying, renting textbooks is a much cheaper option;  You can just rent the book for a small price and limited duration.
  • Renting textbooks is space efficient as you can return the book once you’re done and don’t have to store it for more extended periods. Your tiny dorm room will thank you later.
  • Renting textbooks is quite convenient. Whether it is a hardcover or an e-book, you can find it easily in most instances and rent it for the required duration.
  • Book rental sites usually stock the latest edition of textbooks which is particularly important courses that are modified and updated over time to incorporate new concepts. When you rent such textbooks, you will probably get the latest edition of the respective book.

The Cons of Renting Textbooks

  • When you rent a book, you have to safeguard it and keep it intact so that you can return it safely in the same condition. If you fail to do so or do not meet the deadline for returning the book, you may have to pay a fine or even pay the total price if the textbook gets lost.
  • The book is not yours to keep, and you cannot use it the way you would use your own book. Therefore, even if you want to scribble or highlight important points during a lecture or study session, you cannot do that.
  • Even if you find the book useful, you cannot keep it for longer than specified.If the book is a limited edition or is not readily available, you may not be able to buy your own later down the track.

Buying vs. Renting – How to Decide

As we can see, both the options have their pros and cons, and you can choose according to your circumstances.

When to Buy

While money is an important consideration when it comes to buying textbooks, it is not the only factor. 

Some textbooks come with additional resources like course CDs etc., and you may not have any other option but to buy the book.

Moreover, if the textbook is important and you know that you will be using it for a long time as reference material, buying it seems to be a better idea. In such an instance, try looking for a used version of the book as the price will be lower. 

You can also buy it with a peer or a friend on a shared basis to split the cost.

When to Rent

Renting textbooks is quite a budget-friendly option in comparison to buying them. You cannot only save quite a lot of money by renting instead of buying, but you can also save up your storage space. 

Nowadays, you have the option of renting physical copies as well as eBooks of the latest versions of textbooks which take up no space at all and are easily available. You can easily find various renting options online as well as on some campus facilities.

Where to Rent From

If you’ve decided buying textbooks isn’t for you and that renting is your best option, head over to our list of available textbooks to check we have your required reading for this semester. Or, Check out our other articles if you want more details about college life.