Should you buy or rent textbooks?
When creating your budget for college, textbooks can be a pesky expense to consider. Not only do you have to repurchase them every semester, but they can also add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. However, textbooks are also an investment in your education. Therefore, you’ll want to think about how to get the best long-term value. Let’s talk about when to buy or rent textbooks, and how to decide which is right for you.
Buying textbooks has its perks
In many ways, buying your textbooks is the easiest option. Once you purchase a book, you don’t have to worry about paying for accidental damage or returning it by a certain date. Since it’s your textbook, you can use it however you like. However, before heading to the bookstore, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of buying textbooks.
College textbooks can be valuable resources that you’ll want to reference over the years. Especially when taking a sequential series of courses, it’s often helpful to be able to look back at concepts from earlier semesters. If you think you’ll want to revisit the book later on for any reason, buying might be the way to go.
Some professors will also include supplemental readings on the syllabus that are much more similar to novels than to informational textbooks. These books are typically also cheaper than the average textbook, so the difference between buying and renting is often only a few dollars.
Many students also find that annotating can be a great tool to boost focus and enhance understanding. Buying your textbook can also make it easier to take notes and highlight as you go without worrying about the next reader.
Unfortunately, buying is often the most expensive textbook option. It’s up to you to decide whether the perks of using your textbook worry-free outweigh the added costs.
How to save when buying textbooks
Just because you’re buying your textbook doesn’t mean you have to pay top dollar. Students often save money by purchasing used textbooks. Oftentimes, you’ll be able to find the books you need on eBay, Amazon or other cheap textbook websites. Sometimes, you might even get lucky and find a listing on Facebook Marketplace from a classmate who took the same class a semester earlier.
Think ahead and order asap
However, while you can often purchase brand-new textbooks from the campus bookstore the day you need them, used textbooks may take up to weeks to deliver. Additionally, used goods typically won’t include supplemental materials like software or workbooks. Therefore, it’s important to do your research and plan well ahead of time if you’re going the used textbook route.
Sell your books after class ends
Another useful strategy to save money when buying textbooks is to sell them after the class if you don’t need them anymore. Some websites even have a guaranteed buyback program for books that they sell. While you might have to settle for less than you paid, selling textbooks can be an easy and reliable way to recoup some of your costs.
Renting textbooks can save a lot of money over the years, and more students are starting to adopt it. According to a survey by CampusBooks.com, 55% of students rent their textbooks each semester. However, it’s important to think about what renting entails to figure out if it’ll work for you.
Perks of renting: Save money and space
While some textbooks may be relevant throughout your time at college, others are more short-lived. If you’re confident that you’re not going to open your textbook after your class ends, renting is probably a no-brainer. On top of lowering the price, renting can also save you from extra clutter if you can’t sell your books later on.
Before renting, consider possible drawbacks
Renting can come with its fair share of limitations. Unlike purchased textbooks, rented textbooks must be returned by a certain date. If you’re late to bring them back, or if you bring them back in worse condition, you may face additional charges. Therefore, when renting a textbook, it’s important to stay on top of your stuff.
Textbook rentals may also impose restrictions on annotations or highlights in order to keep their books in good condition. Some companies will allow students to mark up their books as an extra perk. However, you’ll want to check the terms of service beforehand to avoid any damage fees.
How to save when renting textbooks
While renting your textbooks can be a great deal, the costs can still add up over time. Fortunately, you can save even more by getting used textbooks with websites like eCampus or ValoreBooks. Some will even offer bonuses, like flexible rental periods or the option to buy your rental at a discounted price.
However, just like when buying used textbooks, make sure that your rental comes with all of the materials you’ll need. There’s no point in saving money if you’ll just have to buy another textbook later on.
All in all, buying and renting textbooks can both have their pros and cons. The best decision for you depends on your individual needs, which may change from class to class. Good luck finding the best deals on your textbooks!