Should you buy or rent your textbooks?

Choosing whether to buy or rent your textbooks may seem like an obvious choice, but only on first glance. There’s actually much to consider when choosing to buy or rent – especially if you need books for multiple classes. But fear not! We’re here to make the decision-making process a little easier.

Buying textbooks: The pros

Usable for several semesters

Classes in Math, foreign languages, and  the sciences may use the same textbooks for more than one semester. In this case, students may be better off buying textbooks online, since the cost of buying is probably less than several semesters’ worth of rental fees.

As reference for other classes (in your major)

Textbooks related your major field of study can always be used as reference in the future. Who knows when you might need to back to those earlier resources for a research project or a term paper.

Sell them back

Another advantage of buying textbooks is that you can sell them back when you’re done with them, recouping some of your original cost.

No worries

When you buy textbooks, you don’t have to worry about how much you write in them, if they get damaged, or if you lose them.

Buying textbooks: The cons

More expensive

Buying textbooks is usually more expensive than renting them, especially if you’re looking for a new copy of the latest edition.


Another downside to buying textbooks is that you need a place to store them long-term, during summer, for example. By the time you get to your junior or senior year, the problem is compounded: you probably have a huge stack of books. Where do you plan on keeping them?

Renting textbooks: The pros

Good for one time courses

Students who are taking core classes that are mandatory, but otherwise outside their major field of study, should definitely consider renting. Chances are you’ll never use the books again. So why buy them?

Cheaper and easier

Renting textbooks is not only cheaper than buying, but also less of a hassle. When you’re done with the book, all you have to do is send it back.

You can always buy it later

The best thing about renting is that you always have the option to buy the textbook at the end of your rental period if you so desire.

Renting textbooks: The cons

Loss, damage, or late return fees

You’re responsible for taking care of your rentals. Textbooks that are damaged or lost, or returned after the due date, may incur extra fees.

No note-taking in the textbook

Most textbook rentals have strict rules concerning note-taking. Like: don’t do it. If you want to write in your books – underlining, highlighting or writing in the margins – then be sure to buy.


Pro tip: There are certain books you absolutely should always buy. For example: if you’re an English major, you might want to buy all your novels and story collections. Why? Because paperbacks are cheap. Plus, it’s probably time you started your own personal library.


Leave a Reply