Buying vs Renting School Textbooks – Best Tips

Buying vs Renting School Textbooks – Best Tips

Buying vs Renting School Textbooks – Best Tips

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of college textbooks increased by 88 percent between 2006 and 2016. Unfortunately, students require textbooks to assist them in learning subjects, despite the fact that some of them are costly.

Unless you went to a private school like some of us did, where you're used to spending an arm and a leg on useless books, most people didn't have to buy or rent textbooks in high school. So, when it comes time for college, we have no idea where to get our textbooks, let alone whether to rent or buy them.

It's tempting to buy all of your college textbooks new at first (after all, who doesn't want clean, crisp pages?) However, that is most likely not the best decision you can make. Examine your book rental and purchase alternatives first, then weigh the benefits and drawbacks of both options before deciding on the best option for you – both economically and educationally.

Identifying Your Alternatives

Due to subcategories, renting and purchasing college textbooks isn't as straightforward as it appears. When it comes to getting textbooks, you basically just have four options: rent new, rent used, buy new, and buy used. This is self-explanatory, but basically, you can rent a book that hasn't been used by anybody else (i.e., you'll be the first renter), allowing you to write your own notes in the text without worrying about others.

The other choice for renting is to rent a used textbook, which means you'll be getting a textbook that has already been used by someone else and is likely to have markings on it. The purchasing options are identical, with the exception that you will keep the book rather than returning it at the end of the semester.

You won't have to worry about unclean or worn-out pages no matter what you choose, so you may rent textbooks without worrying about their state. If there are any issues with the textbook, the vendor will usually state so in the description. Most firms inspect the books for damage when they return them, and if the prior renter tore the book up, they will be charged, and they will not simply pass the book on to someone else (I've never come across a company that didn't do this).

The Advantages of Purchasing College Textbooks

When Buying Is the Better Option

When you're taking a course for your major or minor, it's advisable to acquire a textbook (if you have one). It's possible that you'll need it as a reference guide in the future.

If you wish to make notes in the margins, you should buy your books. If you're going to spill something on your books or if they're going to go through a lot of wear and tear, you should buy.

It's better to get them if you're not someone who is adept at returning things. You won't have to worry about missing the deadline and incurring additional fees this way.

Obtain Better Grades

Students who own their textbooks tend to perform better in class. According to a 2017 research published by Inside Higher Ed, half of students who avoided or delayed purchasing books received inferior grades. You can highlight and make notes in the margins of college textbooks to help you learn.

Beyond Graduation: A Useful Resource

Depending on your major, material from textbooks may be helpful long after you graduate. You'll always have your books as a reference if you possess them. Engineering and scientific textbooks, for example, may provide a wealth of formulas that can assist you in solving equations on the job.

Sharing with a Classmate

You can also split the charges by sharing them with a current classmate. Make a smart decision and create a plan for when each person is allowed to use the book.

That way, you won't be without your book the night before an exam.

Just be sure that if you're sharing, you're doing so with someone responsible who won't misplace, destroy, or hold the shared book hostage.

Possibility of reselling

When you buy a book, you usually have the option of selling it back to the campus bookstore as a second hand book at the conclusion of the semester. It's always nice to have a few extra dollars in your pocket. You can resale textbooks to friends or classmates, the university shop, or an e-commerce site if you buy them but don't need them. You may be able to reclaim a considerable portion of your original purchase price, depending on the book's quality and demand.

Don't be surprised, though, if you don't get quite as much money back from the store as you paid for it. You can always sell the book online for a higher price. If you can't sell it locally, you'll likely have to include shipping charges in your asking price.

The Disadvantages of Purchasing College Textbooks


Buying new or even used textbooks can be very costly. While campus bookstores are convenient, their second hand book selection may be limited. Many students find it difficult to pay the cost of books at the start of each semester.

Buying Used Posses a Risk

Although buying second hand books online from an untrustworthy third-party vendor can save you money, the item you receive may not match the advertised description, and excessive writing or highlighting in a book can be distracting and make it difficult to study or retain information.

Highlighting Can Be Expensive

If you're buying books with the goal of reselling them, avoid underlining or writing in them. Marks and highlights may not matter if you sell them to a friend. The sale price may drop if you sell them to the college bookstore or an e-commerce site. Selling an old used book might be challenging, especially if it's full with marks from your study sessions.

The Advantages of Renting College Textbooks

When Renting a Book a Better Idea

There are occasions when renting a textbook is the better option. There are times when a textbook isn't used very much in a class. It's best to rent a book if you only need it the night before the exam.

You can rent textbooks for any course that isn't part of your major or minor. It's also a good idea to rent test prep books that you're unlikely to use again after the exam. You won't need to consult the book in future classes because you're unlikely to enrol in any more.


It is less expensive to rent books than to purchase them. Textbooks can be rented from most campus bookstores as well as e-commerce sites such as Amazon and eBay. This choice can save you hundreds of dollars per term, which can add up quickly over the length of your college career.

Renting is less expensive. Even with second hand books, renting is nearly always the less expensive alternative, whether it's a physical book or an eBook. Just make sure you know when your borrowed books must be returned. Because you're studying for exams or relocating, you don't want to miss the deadline.

Access to the Most Recent Editions

You could feel as if you wasted money if you buy a textbook and then a new version with useful, updated content comes out a few months later. If you've decided to rent all of your books, though, you can simply rent the newer edition for the next semester.

More Practical

If you live on campus, getting your textbooks home (or finding a place to store them) over the holiday can be a nuisance. They're huge and heavy, and they take up a lot of room, especially in a dorm room. If you rent your books every year, though, you won't have to pack them away at the end of the semester.

Have a variety of places to rent your books

You may now rent books online through a variety of services. Some campus bookstores even offer this as a free service to their customers.

Are there any compelling reasons to not rent?

If you're a sloppy person, you might want to think twice about renting a physical copy because there could be charges for damage caused by coffee or food stains. And, as with any rental, you'll want to make sure you return the book on time to avoid incurring late fees or possibly having to pay the whole purchase price, depending on how late you return the book. When renting a book, Mr. Foster recommends signing up for text or email reminders so you don't forget and end up paying extra fees.

Disadvantages of renting college textbooks.

Late Fees 

You must remember to return your books before a certain date. You will be charged a fee if you return them late. To avoid excessive spending, make a note of due dates in your calendar.

Books that have been damaged

If you rent textbooks from an online vendor, you may be disappointed by the state of your books when you receive them, just as you may be if you buy old books. For some students, stray notes and highlighting can be distracting. A rental firm may also try to charge you for damage to a book that you did not cause. Carefully read the fine language on rental agreements.

Supplementary Material Missing

Supplementary material, like as access codes for online lesson plans and coursework, is found in many textbooks. However, rented books may not have this information, or rental businesses may charge extra for these elements, raising the cost.

Choosing the Best Option for You

Now that you've heard about all of the possibilities and their benefits, it's up to you to make a decision! To summarize, we prefer to rent your college textbooks because they are less expensive and you’ll rarely use them once the class is over. Textbooks that you’ll be using for numerous semesters and novels that you like to write in yourself and keep to read again may be the only exceptions to your own rules. When it comes to buying or renting textbooks, there is no right or wrong answer; it all relies on you, your financial situation, and your study style. Your textbook selection process will be a snap after you've determined how you study and what you'll need to succeed.


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