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7 Common Textbook Rental Questions 23

Rental BooksOne excellent money saving method for college students is that of textbook rental.  Rather than buying your textbooks and trying to resell them when you are done with them, you can rent your textbooks.  This eliminates the financial guesswork.  No longer do you have to worry about trying to resell your used books.  No longer do you have to spend precious time finding a buyer for your used college books.  No longer do you risk not being able to resell your books.  Instead, you simply mail them back to the rental company after your class is over.

Because textbook renting is such a new and revolutionary idea, college students naturally have many questions.  Today, I will answer seven of the most common questions.

How Much Does It Save?

Many students are skeptical.  “Does renting really save much money?”  Surprisingly, renting your college books instead of buying can actually save you hundreds of dollars.  According to companies such as Chegg.com, BookRenter.com, and Campus Book Rentals (DFS Sponsor), rental books are often 50% to 85% off the list price.  You have to remember, however, this is the savings when compared to a brand new book.  The price drop when comparing a rental book with a used book, though still substantial, is not as large.  For additional savings, check our June textbook rental coupon.

What Is The Quality Of Rental Books?

When I first heard about the concept of renting college books, I wondered what condition the books were in.  After all, a book can only be rented so many times before it stops being usable.  Looking around on the rental company websites, I found that books are only rented when they are in new or like-new condition. Specifically, rental textbooks do not have…

  • Missing pages
  • Worn text
  • Handwriting
  • Excessive highlighting
  • Missing Covers

If you do get a book that is in bad condition, most companies will gladly exchange it for you.

May I Highlight Or Write In A Rental Book?

Yes and no.  Limited highlighting is normally allowed, but writing in a textbook is never allowed.  Remember, they hope to rent this book again after you return it, so it should be in usable condition.

Are The Books The Same As My College Bookstore?

Because book rental sites allow you to search for textbooks by ISBN number, you will be able to insure that the textbook you rent is identical in content to the book in your college bookstore.  However, supplemental CD’s, access codes, or study guides may not be included.  If you get the wrong version by mistake, most of the rental companies will exchange it for free.

How Do I Return My Book When I Am Done?

Most rental companies have a very easy return policy.  Simply place the book in the postage-paid box provided by the rental company and drop the package in the nearest mail drop box.  It really is that simple!

Are There Any Late Fees?

Unfortunately, yes.  Most rental companies charge a substantial fee for books which are postmarked past the due date.  For instance, BookRenter.com says, “If your book is not postmarked by the end of your rental period, you will be charged 20% of the book’s list price and your rental will be extended by 14 days.”  If you still do not return the book during the 14 days, they charge you even more, and the book becomes your property.

What If I Need To Keep My Book Longer Than The Rental Period?

Occasionally, you will find that the rental period is not long enough.  Perhaps the class took longer than you expected or the book turned out to be a great reference volume.  Most book rental companies offer many differerent types of rental extentions.  For instance, Chegg.com offers these different extentions: fifteen days, thirty days, a quarter, and a semester.  In addition, they also have a way to easily convert a rental into a purchase!

Image via Flickr (@supervillain)

23 thoughts on “7 Common Textbook Rental Questions

  1. Reply Holly Jun 18, 2009 8:11 AM

    Nate-
    Great article! Very good outline on the process. Just wanted to give you another site to add to your readers’ list, http://www.collegebookrenter.com. Thanks for spreading the word on rentals!

  2. Reply VTAMethodman Jun 18, 2009 8:33 AM

    I never knew about renting text books, could have been a great option for me, thanks for the info!

  3. Reply Vicki@collegeparentcentral Jun 19, 2009 5:27 AM

    Great information! This is a relatively new trend and is catching on quickly.
    Good advice to compare the rental price to available used copies. It’s possible that once in a while a used book could be found that would be cheaper than renting, but that would probably be the exception. Students should also think about whether the book might be something that they might want to keep. Sometimes books in their major may prove useful later on.

  4. Reply Nate Desmond Jun 19, 2009 5:37 AM

    @ Vicki
    Great points! I agree with you that sometimes used books could be cheaper than rental books, and some books are better owned for reference. Thanks for contributing such useful information!

  5. Pingback: Buying vs. Renting Textbooks--Part II | Back 2 School Moms

  6. Reply heather Aug 5, 2009 1:37 PM

    If you do your research, you would know that both Chegg and Bookrenter have poor reviews. They are essentially a scam.

  7. Reply Nate Desmond Aug 5, 2009 1:48 PM

    Heather,

    You said that Chegg.com and Bookrenter.com are both essentially scams. I have done research on both companies and the vast majority of reviews are highly favorable.

    For instance, CampusGrotto wrote a favorable review at http://www.campusgrotto.com/review-chegg.com-textbook-rental-service.html.

    Where did you get your information?

    Thanks,
    Nate

  8. Reply Jonathan Sep 2, 2009 10:37 AM

    Neither company is a scam, but rarely do I think renting is truly the least expensive way for students to get textbooks. People get too caught up in the upfront cost instead of looking at the whole picture. Even if you can’t find a used book as cheap as a rental, the used book can still be sold back at the end of the semester, whereas you just have to give up the rental. The savings are significant enough if I can sell it back that I’m willing to risk new editions coming out and not being able to sell one or two books back in a semester.

  9. Reply Andrew Dec 30, 2009 10:22 AM

    Not only have I researched extensively but I have actually used Chegg.com for both my sons for the past semester, they have been both effecient and professional. I saved at least $75 per book over USED prices and 60% over new, and the transactions went perfectly.

  10. Reply Victor Dec 31, 2009 1:53 AM

    http://www.chegg.com

    Don’t buy books, rent them!

    Use chegg coupon code CC105203 to get 5 % off your entire order PLUS free shipping  !!!

    Use the same code and get an extra $5.00 cash back when selling your old used textbooks to chegg !!!!!!!!!!

  11. Reply Sarah Jan 5, 2010 11:21 AM

    i have been all over your site and have not yet found anything about opting for ebooks instead of the traditional bound book copies….do you have any opinions or posts on this?

    LOVE your blog!

    Thanks!

  12. Reply Nate Desmond Jan 5, 2010 1:47 PM

    @ Sarah

    Thanks for your input! I have not written anything about ebooks vs. traditional books… yet.

    Actually, I have not really given much thought to e-textbooks, but that might be a good thing to investigate.

    Have you used e-textbooks? What is your experience?

  13. Reply bookrenter Feb 9, 2010 11:47 PM

    Wow this is a very nice post. You really highlighted every aspect of renting text books. One thing that people do not take into account is when you buy text books from the school store you can sell them back at the end of the term. So the total expense is equal to the original price – the sellback price, and from this perspective the actual savings for renting would be less. The only problem with this calculation is, the book store doesn’t always buy every one of your books back. Usually its a sure thing with big text books and if it isn’t the last term of the school year, but you can never be sure.

  14. Reply Nicholas Lee Apr 27, 2010 5:31 PM

    Acadreamia is pioneering a similar cheap textbook rental service in the UK. This service needs to develop in the UK, as its clearly successful in the USA at saving their students money on university textbooks. The only problem is some people don’t understand as its so new in the UK!

  15. Reply Chris Kilby Jun 7, 2010 8:23 PM

    Textbook rentals are starting to catch on – the high cost of textbooks coupled with students’ preference for a real book over digital have driven rental demand over the last year.

    That demand has highlighted a few issues:

    1) Shipping speed. It may shock you to learn that many college students don’t plan ahead and buy their books well before they need them.

    2) Selection. Popular textbooks have gone out of stock quickly at some textbook rental sites.

    3) Terms. Some colleges offer 30 day classes, while textbook rental sites offer only four month or longer terms.

    Several textbook rental sites have addressed all of these difficulties. the best I’ve found is National Book Rentals at http://nationalbookrentals.com. Bigger selection, more shipping options (at a reasonable price), and shorter rental terms (at a lower price).

  16. Reply kelseyo Jun 8, 2010 8:16 AM

    have you ever tried out eCampus.com? I tried chegg and was having problems so I thought I would try something else out. a friend told me about them and I loved it! the prices are already cheaper and plus she gave me her code EE15007 and it saved me 5% on top of that. you should try it out!!

  17. Reply wayne Jun 16, 2010 4:20 PM

    Its hard to decide and trust based on the reviews out there now. Most people have those codes where they get commission for driving sales.

  18. Reply Patrick Jul 28, 2010 12:46 PM

    I rent my college texts from Chegg every semester, which is much less than buying them from the bookstore. And after the semester is over, I ship them back for free. I wanted to share a code for a discount on your rental.
    Use code CC123047 when ordering to save money. If you have used texts that you’d like to sell, the code will also give you an extra $5 back when selling Chegg your used texts. Put in the code when ordering and hit the “apply” button. The code DOES NOT EXPIRE so it can be used every semester. Feel free to share it with others!

  19. Pingback: 7 Common Textbook Rental Questions « Cheap Textbook Rentals

  20. Reply Dennis Callum Aug 17, 2010 12:49 PM

    I cannot believe how much money I saved by renting my textbooks at http://www.mytextbookrentals.com compared to purchasing online or at my University’s Bookstore. I wanted to share this with other students that are having a difficult time trying to cover the cost of their books. I would definitely look into renting your textbooks vs. purchasing. There are many sites out there, but I would recommend using http://www.mytextbookrentals.com because they offered free shipping both ways with a guarantee. I was pleased with the condition of the books as well and you will love this; you can highlight the books and return them that way. Hope this helps because it did for me.

  21. Reply Mike Jay Dec 25, 2010 3:54 PM

    HOW ABOUT THIS FOR A LATE FEE….RENT-A-TEXT (FOLLETT CORP) CHARGES YOU %75 OF THE COST OF A NEW BOOK (THE ONE YOU RENTED) IF YOU MISS THE DUE DATE…USUALLY ON FRIDAY WHEN THE BOOKSTORE CLOSES EARLY-CONVIENTLY?

  22. Reply Rafael Sep 18, 2011 4:57 PM

    BE SMART!! AVOID RENTING WHEN POSSIBLE!!!

    Be sensible, not gullible. Do a little research and do the math: if you can get a good deal on a used book and then resell it online on ebay or half.com, ect, you would at least have SOME money coming back to look foward to when the quarter/semester ends to buy the next round of textbooks. I normally only loose 10 or 20 bucks when reselling a used book and SOMETIMES I EVEN MAKE A FEW BUCKS (if not at least brake even). Once a book is used, it doesn’t continually loose value like an automible. Take care of it and a few months later you can probably get all your money back.

    RENTING a textbook usually runs me over 50 bucks (engineering and GE books alike). Once you pay up, ALL your money is gone INCLUDING THE BOOK EVENTUALLY!!! Then when the new quarter/semester comes, you have to pay up all over again with NO money back at all from your books.

    RULE OF THUMB!!
    **If the rental charge is not at least 50% LESS than the USED PRICE, don’t rent, buy used. Remember, your rental book will be in used condition anyway and it will eventually have to be returned, with the possibility of having to PAY EVEN MORE if you write on it, rip it, loose a page (happens often from poor binding), or return it late. I ADMIT, that sometimes you’ll be stuck with a book that you’ll never resell. But being a senior, and having taken at least 60 courses (and even MORE than 60 books) I have only been stuck with a handful of resellable books.
    -for example, a rental place might compare thier $59 rental charge to a $150 NEW book. They fail to tell you its really a USED book rental that you can buy to own yourself from online stores or other students for around $80-$90 (as is my experience, sometimes I can haggle another 5-10 bucks) and I usually resell for close to that price. Then the new quarter starts and I have usually over $100 back to buy the next round of books.

    Of course sometimes even the used prices are expensive because some greedy professor decides to use and REQUIRE ONLY the current edition with the current questions. If the book hasn’t been out longer than a year, the used prices are usually not that much cheaper. THEN I would recommend it when all else fails. Believe it or not, if you search hard enough, you may even (rare but has happened to me at least 3 times) find a pdf copy online FREE (I know some of you may be copyright nuts but understand we aren’t talking about a few $20 CDs or DVDs, we are talking about THOUSANDS of dollars on textbooks in a single academic career…the most common reason why many students cannot afford college).

    I hate the predatory and greedy textbook industry that give incentives to professors, colleges, and universities, to require only the newest edition with the SAME material but just changing a few (usually only a few) study questons or changing thier order. Not only does that really put a hardship on students, it wastes ALOT of paper. ALOT! AND contributes more pollution (think of all the INK, PLASTIC, PAPER, and machinery waste gasses and energy requirements to continuously make these books in a system that is designed to make them useless as fast as possible)

  23. Reply Jake Jan 15, 2012 11:02 AM

    This is definitely a great breakdown. Just the other day I walked a friend of mine through the process of finding the best available deals on books. It really comes down to comparing the price between rentals, actually buying the book minus the expected sell back price of the book. If the difference between these two numbers will give you the best idea as whether or not you should rent or buy.

    Great Job on this article!

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