Should I Rent My College Textbooks?

College textbooks are more expensive than first-time students might think. Despite improvements in the printing process and the prevalence of electronic books, it feels like books actually jump up in price every year. If you’re a student on a limited budget, renting your books might feel like a natural choice. While doing so certainly does have some very real benefits, it’s important to think about whether these benefits are actually worth not being able to hang onto the textbook once you’re done with it. Below are some of the questions you need to think about before you decide on renting your books.

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What’s the Cost?

The big questions that most students are going to ask themselves when looking at renting versus buying is whether it’s going to cost less to rent the book or to buy the book. In the vast majority of cases, renting the textbook is going to cost only a fraction of what you’d pay to order the book. While you’re probably going to have to pay for shipping each way, the truth is that you’ll probably end up paying less than half of what even a used copy of your textbook will run you if you choose to rent.

This doesn’t always hold true, though. If you are using a book that’s got a huge backstock and that’s been around for years, you may be able to pick up a used textbook for less than what it would cost to rent the book. Choosing to rent the textbook also means that you won’t be able to sell the textbook back at the end of the year, which means you won’t recoup any of what you’ve spent on the text. You can use a simple equation to figure out what your books are really going to cost:

(Rental Cost x Numbers of Terms Needed) + Shipping Costs vs. (Cost of Book + Shipping Cost) – Resale Value

The lower number will give you a good idea of whether owning or buying is better for your wallet.

The Benefits of Long-Term Ownership

Of course, there’s to this process than just the cost. There are some real benefits that come with buying a textbook. There are some books that you will actually come to rely upon for years after your original course, a few of which might form the backbone of your professional library in years to come. This is especially true in professional programs, many of which include certain high-end texts in their course listing under the assumption that students will hold onto the books for years.

It’s also nice to be able to build up a reference library, especially if you’re academically inclined. Knowing that you’ve got access to your own reference material can help you out with papers in the future, especially if you have professors who are still a bit reticent to allow their students to rely entirely upon online sources. These books will allow you a chance to research in the privacy of your own home.

Owning your own books also gives you the benefit of being able to sell the books at any time. While books certainly lose their value over the course of the years, certain foundational books can be a good source of cash at the end of a term. While you might not want to sell the books immediately, you can rest safe knowing that you have a backup source of money.

The Benefits of Renting

Renting has its benefits, too. Renting allows you to get access to the newest versions of your books without having to worry about the price. This means not having to double-check to make sure that assignment sets have stayed the same or panicking whenever our version of the text is not the same as the one used by the professor. You’ll also be assured that you’ve got access to the most cutting-edge information in your field.

Renting is also very useful for students who move frequently. Instead of having to haul around boxes of books that you’ll probably never use again, you’ll get to send back your books at the end of every semester. This means less room is taken up in your dorm or apartment and less clutter when you’re trying to study or entertain. These books take up more space than you might realize, so being able to get away from the mountains of reading material can be nice if you have to leave campus at the end of each year.

Finally, you generally have the choice to buy any textbook that you have rented from BooksRun. This gives you a better chance to decide if the books you’re using are actually going to be useful in the future. Instead of dropping too much money on a book you’ll never use, you can make your choice after you’ve had some time to look at the book.

Renting textbooks from BooksRun is a great choice for some people. Others might benefit from buying books from the same site. What’s important, though, is that you know exactly what works best for your needs. Whether you need a book just for this semester or a book that will stick with you for years, you’ll find what you need on the site. Take a moment to think about how long you’ll need your next book for class and the make the decision that makes sense for you.

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