College textbook rentals: Save hundreds of dollars through rental services

College tuition continues to climb and so do the costs of textbooks. No matter your degree program, you’ll be lucky to get away with spending only $400 on textbooks in one semester alone—unless you explore textbook rentals. Opting for a textbook rental service can save you upwards of 80 percent on college textbooks, and it also means you won’t have a bulky stash of books to get rid of come graduation.

Logging on to rent

You’ve probably ordered your books online before. Well, textbook rental sites are just as easy. These sites allow you to search for the book you need, rent it for however long you need it, and return it via mail—usually free of charge for orders that meet a minimum purchase requirement. Renters pay only for the time they use the books and can usually receive the books within two to three business days. offers free shipping both ways and a 30-day risk-free return. is another popular textbook rental site that might you save hundreds of dollars on textbooks.

Online sites are not the only ones interested in renting textbooks. Like borrowing a library book and returning it when you’re finished, some campus bookstores are utilizing textbook rental services, and these bookstores end up slashing book prices by 55 percent or more to keep prices low and remain competitive. Check with bookstores on campus to see if they participate.


Renting eBooks is a little newer to the textbook rental scene, but with the industry beginning to boom, it’s possible through certain services. While you may not have the luxury of highlighting or jotting notes in margins (it depends on the service), it’s definitely easier to tote your laptop or eReader to class instead of a 400-page hardcover. In most cases, however, there won’t be many options to rent because the security of an eBook isn’t exactly stable—with modern technology, taking a screenshot of anything electronic is relatively easy, so it makes more sense for companies to sell eBooks at full price, or at prices that aren’t too far removed from hardcover prices.

Possible setbacks

Overall, saving 80 or 90 percent on a college textbook—one that you may not want to see ever again after the class ends—can be well worth utilizing a textbook rental service. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are risks involved. Small rips, creases, and other minor problems could count as damages, which the rental company may charge you for. Some rental services forbid writing or highlighting in books and will charge you the full price of the book if you violate these policies. Make sure you read up on the fine print before committing to a service, and take into consideration your own studying and homework style. Do you fold page corners to remember your place? Do you underline or highlight key phrases quite often? If so, then renting textbooks might not be your best option. Take some time to research your options and find out what works best for you, perhaps by renting only one textbook for one class at first.

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