Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guest Post: Is Renting Textbooks Worth your Time and money?

These days, college students will go to great lengths to save money. A growing trend to do so is by renting textbooks from online textbook renting services. A lot of questions arise with a new service such as this.

Why rent?
Many students, including myself, have always struggled with having to find a cheap used textbook and desperately tried to sell it back to the bookstore to get something back. With renting, you pay only one low fee to have the book however long you want (semester, summer, quarter, or pick your own return date). No trying to sell it later. Return shipping is also free for when your rentals are due.

How much cheaper are they?
Most sites rent books for up to 60% of the price of a new book from Amazon.com. For example, at the time of this writing, you can rent Robert Blitzer's College algebra book on CampusBookRentals.com for a whole semester for only $23.08, and a new copy is available on Amazon for $52.99.

What if you want to keep your book?
Most rental companies offer the chance to either extend your rental or purchase your books through your online account. There is no need to mail any books anywhere, you just pay and keep the books instead of sending them back. This can also work against you, as you can be charged a late fee if your books are not returned at the end of your rental period.

What if you need to highlight in the book, or if you lose it?
Most rental companies know and understand that books get highlighted and noted a lot, especially if the book has passed hands several times. No rental site should charge you for a reasonable amount of highlighting and notes. There is a limit of course. If you go a little too crazy with the notes, if the pages become illegible, or if the books are damaged in some way, you may be charged a damage fee. If the book is lost, and you do not have insurance on it, you will have to pay the purchase price for the book, which is the difference between the rental price and the retail price of the used book.

What if your class is dropped and you need a refund?
Since these sites pay for return shipping, many of them offer the ability to print a free return mailing label from your account to use in returning your books. In many cases, if you return your books within about 30 days of your order date, you can get a 100% refund, no questions asked.

Where can I find books to rent?
You can find books to rent at any of the following websites:

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