It’s no secret that the cost of college textbooks is outrageous. CollegeBoard.com reports that between course materials and textbooks, students can expect to spend between $1,240-$1,440 for an academic year (2019 Study). This is a lot of money for something you will use for a few months and most likely never use again. A great way to save money is through websites that have college book rentals.
I personally know students who did not purchase the required textbook for a class in order to save money. I know this may be tempting, but don’t do it. There’s a better solution, rent the books you need. Renting textbooks allows you to save money because you pay a lower price upfront, they are shipped directly to you, and you can use them for the entire semester, and then return them by the return deadline. It’s as simple as that.
The Cost Difference Between Buying And Renting
Here is an example of a required textbook for one of my business classes. At my campus bookstore, Hornet Bookstore at California State University, Sacramento, the cost is $257.25 new and $193.00 used (it’s hard to get a used book as they sell out very quickly). This is very expensive. However, my bookstore does have a rental option of $38.59. Renting the book saves you a ton of money. But it gets even better, I ran over to Amazon and checked their price, and it was even lower at $14.95.
Amazon’s price is amazing! Plus you can get free shipping if you or a family member has an Amazon Prime Account.
Below are a few tips to avoid the campus bookstore, which is usually a madhouse during the first few weeks of the semester and the last week during final exams and buyback. The goal is to purchase your books as efficiently as possible, saving you both time and money.
Wait On Renting Textbooks
First and foremost, wait until class starts before you rent your books. Professors are notorious for changing textbook requirements. I can’t count how many times a professor has said on the first day of class, you really don’t need the textbook as my lecture notes are enough, or that an older, less expensive version is acceptable too. Don’t buy a book until your professor confirms it as it can save you a lot of time and headache.
Quick Delivery On College Book Rentals
Don’t worry about buying your books during the first week of classes. Most textbook rental companies know students need their books quickly, so they have fast shipping. If you have Amazon Prime you can get them in two days. Professors rarely give homework in the first week, don’t stress about not having your book.
Look For Deals When Renting Textbooks
Many book rental companies have deals particularly when the semester starts. Be on the lookout for coupons, promo codes, and new student promotions. The book rental market is very competitive right now. Many times, you can save 10% to 35% or get free shipping if you have a promotional code.
Be sure to check the return deadline date and make note of when it’s due back. I remember having one textbook that needed to be postmarked a few days after the final exam, this was cutting it close. Typically, there will be a fee if you return the book after the deadline. Read the fine print so you know the terms of your college book rentals.
Free Return Shipping
Returning a rented textbook is super easy. The best part is you don’t need to pay when you return the book. When you receive your book, you are provided a free return shipping label. Some companies allow you to print out the return label from their website when you are ready to return it. This allows you to save even more time and money.
The Top Textbook Rental Websites
There are a lot of good textbook rental websites to choose from when it comes to renting books. Having so many options is good because it creates competition. Shop around because as I mentioned above prices vary greatly.
When you search for a textbook, I recommend using the ISBN. This will ensure you are getting the correct book and the correct edition. Some books come with supplemental material like a CD or access code check to see if these are included. Some professors don’t use the supplemental material so it may not be necessary.
Here are some of the best textbook rental websites. You can rent textbooks cheaply. Be sure to read their rental policies.
- Amazon Book Rental
- Chegg Book Rental
- eCampus Textbook Rentals
- Campus Book Rentals
- Your College Campus Bookstore
- Textbook Rush Rentals
- Ablebooks -Renting Textbooks
- Valore Books
- Knetbooks Rent Textbooks
- Barnes and Nobel Textbook Rental
If you are looking for other ways to save money, there are a lot of great tips at, Budgeting Tips For College Students.