College studentWhen I was a lowly college student, I spent a fortune buying my college textbooks. My only relief was that maybe I would get a fraction of that money back when the semester was over by selling back my books. At that time, renting textbooks wasn’t quite so common, especially online. Renting textbooks has become more and more popular in recent years though as it has become more convenient and the selection of books has become much greater. The main reason it has become popular is, of course, the cost savings. Especially when you factor in online promotions and coupons,  you can easily save hundreds of dollars a year on college textbooks. The 2012 school season is about to start, and you may want to start thinking about renting as an alternative to buying your textbooks. Here is why and how:

  1. The obvious reason: renting is cheaper! When you rent, you can expect to save about 40% off the retail price. Even after factoring in the money you get back by re-selling, you still can’t beat that price. Check out this recent article about students at Pittsburgh State University saving $200,000 by renting instead of buying. Make sure to compare prices from different stores. Remember, you usually can also save more on shipping if you rent all your textbooks together.
  2. Save time: You don’t have to wait in long lines at the student union to get them. And, when you rent textbooks, you know what you’ll do with them when you’re done. You return them. You don’t waste time by trying to sell them, and searching for where you can get the best price.
  3. Save space: You know it won’t take up space on your bookshelf or in a box somewhere. Your home becomes more clutter free. You can even rent an eTextbook and completely forget about all that paper.
  4. If the rental website lets renters make marks in the book, you may find some of the notes and highlights helpful. This may be an annoyance to some though. You can decide on that for yourself by reading the first one or two chapters to see if the previous notes are helpful.
  5. Green alternative to buying textbooks. Renting the textbook means reusing it which means less paper and less energy waste. You are helping the environment!

Last, but certainly not least, make sure to find coupons! While comparing prices, don’t forget to consider online coupons the stores offer. A store with a better coupon might save you more than a store that has the lowest initial price but has no coupon. Search the web for coupons before you purchase. You might be surprised to save up to an additional 20% of the rental cost depending on where you order from. Also some bookstores give free shipping and free returns. Check out coupons for these kind of deals.

Here is something else to consider though…not all the textbooks may not be available for rent. One reason is the lifetime of a textbook. If new editions come up very often, the stores may not have copies to offer for rent.

As always, read the fine print: Are you allowed to highlight the book? What are the non-returnable conditions? What if you drop the class, can you return it for a full refund? By reading the FAQs of the stores, you can find answers to most of these questions. In addition to Chegg mentioned earlier, some of the other popular textbook rental websites are Book Renter and Campus Book Rentals. Be sure to check out Book Renter coupons and Campus Book Rentals coupons to save more for free.

Overall, if you think you are going to need your college textbooks in the future, it’ll be best to buy. But, if you only need to make it one or two semesters, you can’t pass up renting.

Make sure to check out our next article on e-Textbooks!

Have a great 2012 school season!