What is textbook renting and should I do it?By Team RakeThru - Jan 2012
This article applies primarily to renting physical books. If you are considering renting an ebook, check out our article here.
Thinking about renting your books this semester? Here are a few things to consider before you do, and a few resources to help you do it well if you choose to.
Renting books has really picked up in the past few years with many campus bookstores as well as national retailers such as B&N and renting specialists like Chegg also taking part. There are two main benefits to renting - 1) it lowers your up front costs vs buying then selling back a book, and 2) it removes the uncertainty of bookstore buyback at the end of the semester. This certainty comes with two limitations – a) you can't keep the book and b) you also miss out on 'positive' buybacks.
For core courses in your field, textbooks can be invaluable resources as you move on to other classes or into industry. This is often more true in fields like engineering or the sciences, but humanities students also often benefit by using their course books as the core of their personal library. Renting removes this possibility. The second limitation is the positive side of buyback. It isn't that uncommon to purchase used books online and sell them to other students, or at buyback, for exactly what was paid, or even at a profit. Renting will never be free, and it certainly won't make you money. Thus, the certainty of renting also removes the positive side of the risk you take in buying.
If you are comfortable with both of those limitations and want to lock in the price certainty, then renting may be for you! Running through this checklist will help you have the best experience:
It is more likely that you'll want to make one trip to the post office to mail your books back. Check your university's registrar website for your academic calendar to find out when exams are scheduled to end. This will give you an accurate sense of when the stress of finals will be over and you'll be ready to send back all of the books you rented even if you aren't finished picking all of your classes.
Rental companies vary on shipping fees. Some provide free shipping each way while others charge depending on the shipping speed. Be sure to keep track of what the policy is at each rental company you use. This can increase what seemed like a very low up front price.
Consider Condition Requirements
Some companies are very strict about highlighting, note taking and other marks/damage to their books while others are more liberal. Make sure your own study style matches a company's policy. It is better to pay a little more to buy a book and study in the way that will help you get the best grades than to rent a book and stress yourself because you cannot highlight the pages. In the long run better grades = better job = more money. Thus paying a little more for books now can be worthwhile over time.
Consider Penalty Fees
Companies charge different penalties both for late return and for damage to books. Make sure you review the policies.
That's it! We hope this article helps and wish you a great quarter/semester!