Renting College Textbooks

Five Advantages to This Growing Trend

Buying textbooks is a semi-annual nightmare for many college students. Battling long lines at the campus bookstore, wresting hot-ticket items from the grips of fellow students, and paying hundreds of dollars for books whose value often dwindles to nil by term’s end—all are scenarios that most students desperately wish to avoid.

In recent years, online textbook stores have helped tremendously in beating the campus crowd, but now an easier—and in many cases, cheaper—option is sweeping U.S. colleges. For many, textbook rental is now the way to go, and here are just a few reasons:

1. It’s easy.

Scanning rows and rows of ISBN codes, searching for a specific title and edition, can get old pretty fast. Online textbook rental companies combine the convenience of the Web with the speed of modern mail delivery to ensure that everything you need is just a click away. When a course is finished, simply drop the book in the mail and return it.

2. It can save you money.

For thousands of students, textbook rental has proven an economical option. According to Tina Couch, vice president of public relations for popular rental site (courtesy of UA’s The Crimson White), “Students who rent their text books can save about $2,000 … over the course of their college career using” That’s a considerable savings, when common estimates show students spending an average of $1,000 per year on college textbooks.

3. It’s good for the environment.

Everyone is concerned about the planet these days, and college students are doing more than ever to support environmentally friendly initiatives. While recycling is a great option once a book has outlasted its usefulness, it doesn’t hurt to reuse them as much as possible in the meantime.

4. It keeps people honest.

Another benefit to textbook rental is that the fee isn’t dictated by the author—you know, that philosophy professor who insists students buy his book each semester? Additionally, diminishing value isn’t a factor since renters pay a fee upfront, so you’re not at the mercy of the powers who determine the resale value of college texts.

5. It lets you “test drive” program-specific books.

Some students actually do opt to keep books they enjoyed referencing throughout the term, and renting ensures that a) you’re not obligated to keep a book you don’t want just because it lost its bookstore value, and b) you get a chance to peruse the content before committing to the full price.

Rental Sites to Check Out

  • – Chegg is one of the most popular rental sites among college students, offering a nifty rewards program where points equal coupons and discounts.
  • – This online store does charge late fees, but they also donate books to disadvantaged kids. Seems like a fair trade off.
  • – Growing in popularity, CampusBookRentals boasts a 30-day guarantee on all textbook rentals so you’re never stuck paying a rental fee for a useless textbook.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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