Is Renting Textbooks a Good Idea?

High cost of textbooks leading some to rent instead

With the rising cost of tuition, more students have to consider alternative sources of funding just to get them through their degree programs. In some cases, this doesn't even take the soaring prices of educational materials they'll need, such as textbooks and laptops, into consideration. When you're already looking at a mountain of debt, tacking on another few hundred dollars to cover the cost of class readings for one semester can seem impossible, especially when the price of just one book can sometimes reach more than $200. Even more disarming is the idea that you might only use these materials once or twice before they're no longer useful.

The idea of renting
According to The Washington Posti, however, renting these materials instead might be a solution to this issue. This calls into question the difference between owning a book and borrowing it instead. Have you ever taken out a library book? While this might be an absurd question to some, as this service seems like it has always existed, others might prefer owning their reading materials. If you know you aren't going to pick the book back up once you're finished, a more temporary - and cost-efficient - solution might be to borrow the materials instead. Unfortunately, most libraries aren't in the business of supplying the kinds of textbooks you might need, for a variety of reasons. 

Cost, for instance, is a considerable factor, especially when some materials can reach into the mid hundreds for each volume. Textbooks are also updated regularly to provide students with new information. Some industries, such as the medical sciences and history, might see more updates than others because of the constantly evolving nature of the subject matter, but one thing is for certain - the cost is high for them, too. Pennsylvania State University's websiteii, for example, noted how impractical it would be for a college library to routinely purchase items that will be outdated with another edition in a semester or two. How, then, can you find inexpensive options?

Rental flexibility
Now that the Internet has made a splash in the academic world, students have a few more opportunities at their disposal as far as texts are concerned. With just a click, you can place an order to companies that rent books for a much lower price, allowing you to borrow them the way you would from a library, with just a few differences relating to time and expense. According to The Motley Fooliii, major corporations, such as Chegg, Barnes and Noble and Amazon, have become part of the e-book phenomenon. Rather than lugging around a full backpack, you can have texts beamed directly to your preferred mobile device, whether it's a smartphone or an e-reader. 

With this option, you'll be able to cut the costs of books considerably. For example, The Motley Fool noted that Chegg offers the price of a $104.48 biology for $25.99 - an almost 75 percent discount. When you're finished with it, you'll simply send it back. If you're renting an e-book, it will simply disappear from your files once the rental time has ended. 

How is this changing things for students?
The Times Heraldiv noted that the high cost of textbooks can limit your academic experience. When one book can cost you nearly $200, for instance, you might be paying anywhere between $500-$600 per semester on texts alone. If you're simply unable to afford them in the conventional way, by purchasing them from the university bookstore or through another retail source, the news provider noted that you might consider squeaking by in a class without the materials. In some instances, you might even avoid courses that have notoriously high expectations as far as textbooks are concerned. 

If you're paying a fraction of the cost for books, however, you might have more options available to you in terms of the classes you can take. The Edgev reported that students all across the nation are leaning toward a rental program for their textbook needs. 

"I saved more than $200 this semester by buying only eTextbooks," Alexandra Kipp, a junior strategic communications major at Elon University, told the source. "And buying an e-reader can save [students] a lot of money in the long run."


[i]washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/03/27/how-a-rental-service-could-help-digital-textbooks-thrive-on-college-campuses
[ii]psu.libanswers.com/a.php?qid=495317
[iii]fool.com/investing/general/2014/03/05/barnes-noble-inc-fights-back.aspx
[iv]timesheraldonline.com/news/ci_25464834/throwing-book-at-high-costs-college-textbooks?source=most_viewed
[v]elonpendulum.com/2014/04/rather-textbook-vs-e-book

 

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