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.
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
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.