Renting College eTextbooks: Save $ and Save Your Back

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If you are a college student, or if you know a college student, you should know about the possibility of renting your textbooks.

Textbooks are crazy expensive, and years ago the choices were two. New or Used. That was it.

But today that has changed. Students now have many choices on how to consume the textbooks they need. And saving money is always a goal for students.

An interesting new-ish choice is to RENT your book, rather than purchase it.

You can rent physical books, of course, but I was excited to learn that you can also rent the ebook version of textbooks.

This means that an entire semester of texts can be contained on one tiny little Kindle. All your books (your big, HEAVY books) in your pocket. Imagine that.

And you don’t need a Kindle to rent a textbook. Of course, a Kindle is a great choice, but you can also rent and read a textbook on any Kindle app, on your PC, Mac, iPad, Kindle Fire, iPhone, Android device, Windows Phone 7 or Blackberry.

You can highlight, take notes, and synchronize. Your notes are available to you anytime, even after you have returned the rental. And, just as with regular ebooks, you can preview the first chapter for free.

The rental times are flexible, too. You can choose between 30 and 360 days. The longer you keep the book, the more you pay. The option is always available to buy the book, as well.

I know of three particular textbooks currently being used in college courses this Fall. I looked at all three, and found 2 available for ebook rental, the other was not. I imagine more textbooks will be added as the program expands.

The cheapest choice is still the used book. But for students who want the convenience of reading textbooks on a portable device, a rental can be an excellent option.

I remember the inconvenience pain of carrying around piles of books. Imagine traveling or commuting to school with your entire semester’s worth of reading in the palm of your hand instead of in a canvas bag on your back. I like it!

You can learn all about Amazon’s Kindle Textbook Rental Program here.


26 thoughts on “Renting College eTextbooks: Save $ and Save Your Back

  1. When I went for my Master’s degree, I purchased my books from Amazon. I should have rented them, however, I was able to sell the books back. This provided me with a small reimbursement, which was better than nothing. Great post! Thanks for sharing. Jamie 🙂

    • It is kind of great to be able to carry around all your textbooks, all the time.
      Other money-saving choices include used copies, and renting the physical book (Amazon does this, too).
      Also …. ask the professor if the previous edition is still acceptable. If so, buying a copy of a used “last edition” will be an extra-cheap option.
      Finally, if your college student ( 😉 ) knows the course he is going to take for the following semester, he can stand outside the classroom as the course disbands for the semester before him. As those students are leaving for the last time, a quick cash offer (low ball!) will often be accepted by a departing student. Snagging books that way can be the cheapest way of all. Thanks, Abbey, for taking the time to leave a comment!! 🙂

  2. Alice says:

    I searched libraries and second-hand book stores, but my son would not listen to me until he purchased a computer text for $130 dollars (which would be obsolete in months) and found it to be nothing more than a photocopied version of an electronic text–held together with a paper clamp. Renting such texts has been helpful.

    • I live in a family of professors, researchers and scientists, and the changes to electronic everything is astounding. Submissions to journals, school papers, syllabi, grants …. everything is electronic, now. But when my oldest started college in the late 90’s and told me he would be submitting his papers via email, I scoffed and denied the possibility. Such insight I did not have. 🙂

  3. My cousin is starting college on Monday. Two of his classes didn’t require books at all – all coursework materials are provided online which is handy. So that left 4 books for 4 classes. He rented 2 from the college bookstore (physical copies). We bought the other ones used last week – same prices as available online used.

    Renting is a pretty great idea – not an option that was available when I was in college. Neither was the possibility of e-books (I just left college in 2006). One way I saved money in grad school was checking out my textbooks from the library. I had to be quick about it though – other classmates started realizing they could do this, so it became a race to find out the booklist for the class first.

    I actually broke even on a book once. It was a $120 finance book. I found the same book on for $56 USD and was still only charged $3.99 shipping. At the end of the semester I sold it back to my college bookstore and they gave me $60 for it. The bookstore employee, kept telling me ‘sorry’ we’re only paying $60. You’re lucky, the next person who sells this back will only get $40′.

    • Sounds like you did a great job at working to get the cheapest textbook options. Breaking even is awesome! One of the best hints that I’ve heard (you might want to pass along to you cousin) is to stand outside the last class of the class that you are going to take NEXT semester. Wave a $10 bill in the air (or whatever) and someone leaving that class might happily trade their book for the quick cash. Love all the options! 🙂

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