If you’ll take a moment, please note that the title of this tip is “Rent Some Textbooks” not “Rent Your Textbooks” and especially not “Rent All Your Textbooks.” Here’s why: every time I write about renting textbooks, someone comes along and says “But Stephanie! I actually want to keep most of my textbooks! They’re for my major and they’ll be helpful in a later class, or after college!”
I know this. I still have several books from several classes in college, even though I walked the stage and got my diploma in May. I’ve got some film textbooks to help me make better movies, and I’ve got my personal finance textbook to refer to while writing this site. And I’ve got Randy Pauch’s The Last Lecture — yes, that was an assigned textbook for a class!
So yeah, there are some books you just shouldn’t rent, because you’ll want them later. But you’ll take some general education or liberal arts classes, too. And while those classes may indeed be interesting, you can usually tell from the name of the book whether or not it’s something you’ll want to keep past finals week. Chemistry in Context? While I admit this was one of the more interesting science textbooks I’ve read, I really didn’t need it when I was done. It was nice to be able to just send it back, rather than trying to sell it after finals.
Again, renting is not the best practice for every single textbook you need. It’s just for the ones you’re reasonably sure you won’t need after the class is over. And for those books, renting can save you a bundle.
I’ll give you some real-life examples. Because I’m a nut, I still have a worksheet lying around from when I bought textbooks last spring:
Fundamentals of Financial Management, Concise Edition (a book I totally knew I wouldn’t want after the class was over!)
Bookstore used: $95.50
Bookmaid: $40 – $85
Chegg rental: $46.42
Bookmaid is a website specifically for my school (RIT) which allows RIT students to buy and sell books to each other. So in this case, the best action for me to take was to buy one of the used copies being sold by another student through Bookmaid. Not only was it the cheapest price, but no shipping or shipping cost! So that was an easy choice.
Internet Marketing and e-Commerce (probably not a book I would want after the class)
Bookstore used: $107.25
Amazon.com used: $84 (with shipping)
Chegg rental: $51.61
In this case, I went with Chegg. I could have gone with the Amazon.com used price, which would have been a savings compared to the bookstore, and tried to sell the book on Bookmaid when I was done. But the next offering of that class wasn’t until spring of the next year. I didn’t want to wait a year and then try to sell the book! Chegg was the clear choice for me here.
There are other books on the worksheet, but they all demonstrate the same principle: there’s no end-all-be-all-perfect place to get all of your textbooks. Yes, you can simplify the process by getting all of your textbooks from one place but that’s going to cost you. In the case of the bookstore, it’s going to cost you a lot.
If renting some of your textbooks sounds like a good deal to you, I highly recommend Chegg. There are other textbook rental websites, but Chegg is the only one I can honestly recommend, because it’s the only one I’ve used. But having used Chegg for two years out of my college career (for some of my books), I can say that I’ve been thoroughly pleased with their prices, their customer service, and their speed in getting books to me.
And they plant a tree for every book you rent, which I think is pretty awesome. If you decide to go with Chegg, use the coupon code press09 when you check out. It’ll give you 10% off of any rental order. (Expires 12/31/2009)