Rent Textbooks or Buy Them Online to Save Money

Textbooks are necessary for your educational success, but they are lousy purchases. They cost a lot to buy, lose value quickly, and worth little when you sell them. Instead of buying your textbooks from college campus store this semester, you could try renting them from online bookstores. If you still want to own them, you could also buy them online at a fraction of the cost.

Photo by Here In Van Nuys via Flickr

Where To Rent Textbooks

There are several web sites where you can rent textbooks. For example, Chegg offers textbooks for rent at about 65% to 85% off the retail purchase price. You can select from thousand of textbooks, get them quickly, and ship them back for free. Chegg also offers 30-Day “Any Reason” Guarantee, which gives you:

  • Full refund for all orders returned within 30 days
  • Guaranteed delivery date
  • Guaranteed quality of books

Last but not least, Chegg promises to plant a tree for every book you rent.

Where To Buy Used Textbooks

Instead of renting, you could also buy used textbooks from places like and For example, Bookbyte sells Human Anatomy and Physiology (8th Edition) for $88, which is 55% off the retail price of $196.33. sells the same book for $157.

These are just a few examples and I encourage you to shop around a bit since there are many web sites that sell and rent textbooks online. Textbooks are becoming more and more expensive each year. A full time student could easily spend more than $500 per semester on textbooks. Why not rent or buy online and safe a few hundred dollars?

About the Author

By , on Aug 20, 2009
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (7 Comments)

  1. Ryan Colls says:

    Most students think that renting is always the best option. But think again! It is good idea to compare textbook prices before deciding if a student should buy or rent textbooks.

    Renting is obviously is good option when it is considerably cheap to rent than buying used textbooks. Rented textbooks have to be returned by the due date. A late return may incur fines as high as $10/week. Textbook rented from companies should be kept in acceptable condition and without excessive high lighting.

    Buying used textbooks allows you to keep the book in whatever condition you wish to. At the end of the semester you can sell it or decide to keep it as reference material. If you decide to sell your textbooks you will usually receive at least 60% of the price if had purchased your textbook wisely.

    Let us now use a price comparison website to compare buying used versus renting. Courtesy of

    Book 1:
    System Dynamics (4th Edition)
    ISBN10: 0131424629
    See rental prices at affordtextbooks: Chegg ($58), Textbookrus ($62)
    See the used prices at affordtextbooks: Abebooks ($73.99), Half ($83)
    See international edition prices at affordtextbooks: Abebooks ($28.98), Textbookrus ($29.74)

    The above book is cheapest buying international edition. The difference is rental and used textbook price is just $14 indicating used textbook buying or just purchasing international editions are better option.

    Book 2:
    Biology: Concepts and Connections (6th Edition)
    ISBN10: 0321489845
    See the rental prices at affordtextbooks: Chegg ($44), Campusbookrentals ($31.50)
    See the used prices at affordtextbooks: Half ($51), Amazon ( $57)

    The above book is cheapest renting. But buying used is better option because at the end of the semester you are sure to sell this book for at least $35. Rent is good option if you want no hassle.

    The decision to buy versus rent should be based on the price comparison and other factors discussed above. If you have pets that frequently tear and chew book, my advice is to buy cheap used textbook than renting.

    Ryan Colls
    Make Textbooks Affordable Campaign
    Oklahoma State University

  2. kelsey says:

    I agree that renting textbooks is the best way to go! I used to buy my books from my local campus book store and paid about $100 per book and then would get maybe $10 maximum back for the the book. It was becoming such a waste of money that, as a poor college student, I did not have to spend. I compared all kinds of online rental companies and I think that has the best deals! I would try checking them out if you are not happy with your current rental company. With eCampus I have saved hundreds in the last year!!

  3. Julie says:

    I love using Chegg to rent textbooks and save a lot of money. I wanted to share a promotional code that your readers can use to get a discount on their text order. Put in the code when ordering and hit the “apply” button. The code also gives you back an additional $5 when selling Chegg your used texts.

    The code does NOT have an expiration date so it can be used every time you order. Here it is:


    Feel free to pass this code to others to save money.

  4. Alex says:

    Rocky is right – Chegg helps save a ton of money. Also, if you use code CC100290, you can sell back books to Chegg and get and extra $5 back. Try it today!

  5. Rocky says:

    I have rented mine from for a while. Last semester alone it would have cost $600 to buy my 5 books, instead I rented them for $150. This semester I found a coupon code to get me another 5% off “CC107445”. I am renting 4 books for $120 this semester. Every penny saved helps especially when schools chose textbooks that retail for $150-$200. I think that exploits the college student who have to use a particular text for class. What upsets me even more are professors who require books that they themselves have published.

  6. Melissa says:

    Renting books is ok but I would much rather buy them, you still save money doing it online anyway. My favorite site is

  7. Eric says:

    I had some good experience with Chegg relatively. The last time they forgot to send me my money after buying back my book but it was solved eventually. I wish there were more textbook discount sites because it’s ridiculous what these one-use books cost.

    Thanks for the article!

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