Pros and Cons of Renting Textbooks
What are the pros and cons of renting textbooks? Is it better to rent or is it better to buy? Not sure about renting your textbooks? In this article, we aim to clarify things for you so you know exactly what’s right for you.
At the foot of the article, I’ve listed a variety of online resources where you can buy or rent textbooks for highly competitive prices. To find the best prices, it’s best to use one of the textbook aggregators – also listed at the foot of this article.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Renting Textbooks
Renting and buying textbooks both have their pros and cons. Renting provides you with a lower up-front price while buying means that you can use the book in any which way you’d care to and for as long as you’d like.
On average, in the US students that buy textbooks pay a little over $1,200 for textbooks on an annual basis. That’s a very high price indeed and over the past four years alone, the price of college textbooks in the US has risen no less than four times faster than the rate of inflation.
With that said, are there truly any benefits to buying college textbooks? Let’s assess now.
Pros and Cons of Renting Textbooks – The Benefits of Buying College Textbooks
Benefit #1. The Book is Yours
Because you’re the owner you can do what you want with the book. For obvious reasons, many students like to take notes inside their textbooks. Others like to highlight various sections. If this approach works for you then you’ll certainly want to buy the book outright.
You’re the book owner so you can lend it to other students, you can give it away at a later date, or you can keep it forevermore, even if you never use it again.
If you believe that the book will make a good resource for future use during your career, then it makes sense to purchase it outright. On the other hand, many textbooks, depending on the course, quickly become outdated. In this case, you may need to invest in revised versions.
Perhaps you’re into crafting? Some students enjoy repurposing textbooks after they’ve graduated from college. These days, apparently, recycling textbooks for crafting purposes has become something of a trend.
Benefit #2. Book Resale
A further benefit of buying your college textbooks is that at the end of the semester or the end of the year you can sell it.
In turn, you get money available for new textbooks that you need for the coming semester or year of study.
There are many online platforms you can use to resell textbooks. sometimes you can even get the same price that you originally paid for the book. One such platform is Chegg.
Cons of Buying Textbooks
Disadvantage #1. Cost
Buying your textbooks will no doubt come at a relatively hefty cost. If you’re renting, the upfront costs are fairly minimal. Buying? As we mentioned above, the average annual cost of new college textbooks in the US is more than $1,200.
If you opt to invest in used textbooks there are no doubt savings to be made in comparison to buying new. But it’s still quite an outlay even for previously used books.
Disadvantage #2. Caring for Your Books
Unless you’re a particularly moody individual with a penchant for ruining books, chances are your textbooks will remain in decent condition throughout the period of time they are in use. Nevertheless, there is still going to be wear and tear.
If you would like to sell your books after use, and if you want to get a good price, you’ll have to take very good care of the books.
For obvious reasons, textbook resellers will only buy books that are in good to very good condition. This means, if you wish to resell, you can’t take notes inside your books, you can’t highlight text, and you must be sure that the book remains in tip-top condition.
Disadvantage #3. High Demand
If demand is high for any item, there’s always a chance that it goes out of stock. It’s the same for college textbooks. Not only are your classmates buying the same books that you need – at the same time as you, but other students around the country may well need to buy the same books – at the same time as you.
Benefits of Renting Textbooks
Benefit #1. Cheaper than Buying
If you buy textbooks, there’s a large price to pay. If you instead opt to rent your books, it’s far cheaper.
Yes, it’s quite unusual that if you decide to rent you’ll get a brand-new set of books. Nevertheless, the condition is plenty good enough since the books are processed by the company that you rent from.
So, while the books you rent are used, you still get a quality text for a mere fraction of the cost that you’d pay if you decide to buy new books or even used books.
Benefit #2. The Book Does Not Need to be Kept in Perfect Condition
Rented books will frequently have some wear and tear. When you rent your books, for sure you still have to take good care of them, but there’s no need to panic if you do spill a cup of Joe over your books.
Benefit #3. No Hassles at End of Semester
If you rent there are no concerns about what to do with your textbooks at the end of the semester or the conclusion of the year. If you buy, you’ve got to decide whether to hold onto your books or whether reselling would be a better alternative. When you rent, the decision is already made for you – you simply return the books back to the book rental company.
Disadvantages of Renting Textbooks
Disadvantage #1. No Way to Make Money Back
If you decide to rent your textbooks you can’t make money from the proposition. If you buy, you can make money by selling the books at the end of the semester or year.
So while you will save money upfront by renting as opposed to buying outright, there is this downside in that you can’t make any of that rental money back.
Disadvantage #2. There are Deadlines to Meet and Potential Fines to Pay
If you’re not one for deadlines, renting textbooks can come with a risk – if you miss the deadline for returning your rented books the fines can be pretty high.
What this means is that you could end up paying more for the books than if you’d purchased them.
That said, do pay close attention to when the books need to be returned and do pay close attention to shipping them back immediately when they are due to be returned.
According to an article on Huffington Post, around 10 percent of students that rent textbooks fail to return them in a timely manner. For the most part, companies that rent textbooks – companies such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Follett Higher Education Group – do not charge late fees on a daily or weekly basis. Rather, they charge on a flat percentage basis and you need to pay the fee regardless of when you return the materials to them – a single day late, a month late, or even a year late.
Disadvantage #3. There’s No Way You Can Keep the Books
Well, you can keep rented books but you’ll have to pay hefty fines if you do.
Otherwise, while your textbooks will no doubt be of great value to you, you can’t hold onto them for future reference.
You can get in touch with the book rental company and ask if you are able to keep the book/s. If you do, you’ll be asked to cough up a fee for ‘late-return’ or ‘never-return’. In this case, you may as well simply purchase the book as opposed to renting.
What’s the Right Thing to Do? Rent or Buy Your Textbooks?
Which is it, then? Renting or buying your textbooks?
At least you now have insight into the world of renting textbooks.
Keep in mind what your own learning style is – do you like to write notes inside your books? Do you like to highlight sentences and paragraphs for future reference?
Discuss matters with your college professors or with prior students that took the same course as you. What are the books you’ll use over the longer term or what are the books that you’ll only need for a single semester or a single course?
If you wish to buy your textbooks outright, we’ve listed a handful of online resources that sell on the cheaper end just below. Some of these websites sell both new and used textbooks.
First, though, use one of the following textbook aggregators to find the cheapest prices for the textbooks you need:
Textbook Pricing Aggregators – Find the Cheapest Prices for Buying and Renting Your Textbooks
Where to Buy New or Used Textbooks
Ebay.com (new and used)
AbeBooks.com (new and used)
Textbooks.com (new and used with free shipping on orders of $25 and above)
Here is a list of websites that you can buy or rent textbooks from.
Where to Buy or Rent Textbooks
Amazon.com (rent, buy, and sell)
Chegg.com (buy or rent)
Ecampus.com (buy or rent)
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