To Buy or To Rent Textbooks? That is the question.

buy or rent

At the beginning of the semester, students find themselves contemplating purchasing or renting their textbooks. In New York Times Consumer Affairs writer Ann Carrns’ article, A Quandary Over Textbooks: Whether to Buy or Rent, she states, “costs for textbooks and related course materials remains significant-textbooks and supplies cost about $1,200 a year, according to College Board.” This is a substantial amount of money to pay for materials that may never be useful after a single semester.

The benefits of purchasing your textbooks is the resale value. Students are able to sell their textbooks back to their bookstore or even online services such as Amazon or Chegg. By selling textbooks back it may be cheaper to purchase and then resell because individuals may get back a major portion of their money. However, there are also precautions that students should take when expecting to sell their books. Students need to understand that textbook companies update their material regularly; this means that the textbook purchased for this semester may be outdated for next semester and may lose a good amount of its resell value.

book_stack_pc_1600_clr_3258The benefit of renting is the upfront price. The price for renting, rather than purchasing, has been proven to be much less. Carrns quotes Elizabeth Riddle of the National Association of College Stores saying, “In the last academic semester, more than a third of students rented at least one textbook-up from about a quarter the year before.” This shows that interest in renting textbooks is increasing. Renting is usually overall a cheaper choice, however, students need to understand that they have to keep their books in decent condition in order for the renting process to be beneficial. Companies are not going to want to take back a book that is destroyed because they are unable to continue to rent out the textbook. If a book is returned in less than ideal condition, the student will end up paying full price for the textbook they ruined, without the prospect of reselling it.
Also, turning the textbook in on time is another factor that students forget about. Many students have various textbooks and some are rented while others are purchased, and they forget which is which or when the due date is to return the rented textbook, which can lead to the student incurring fees. These overdue fees can definitely add-up until the book is returned. While renting is initially a cheaper option, the costs can add-up when you factor in overdue fees or the final condition of the textbook.

Purchasing and renting: both of these options have their pros and cons; students should do their research and shop around for the best price possible. There are now many online purchasing options, college bookstores, and even personal trading or purchasing options among students. This article by Forbes has some tips to help you be a savvy shopper when it comes to text books.

Since there are so many options it may take more time to find the best price, but in the long run will you save money.