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Comparing textbook prices for renting or buying

Rent, buy or buy online. Which one is best for your books?
Students can choose between the VSU Bookstore, renting books through online companies and buying books online. I used the eight books I needed this semester to compare prices at the bookstore versus online companies.
If I bought the eight books new at the bookstore my total would have been $444.30, and my used total would have been $333.75. Renting my books through Chegg.com would have cost me $239.55. Buying my books from a combination of five online stores cost me $261.24. The five online stores I used were Amazon.com, Half.com, eCampus.com, Textbooks.com and TextbooksRus.com.
The cheapest route was renting textbooks, but each method has its pros and cons.
Buying your textbooks at the bookstore might mean that you pay a little more, but you have the convenience of choosing your books and taking them home that day. You are also supporting a local business when you buy from the bookstore.
For renting your textbooks, Chegg.com is a great site that allows you to rent or sell books. The process is simple. Once you place the order for the books you want to rent, Chegg.com ships the books to you for the rental period of your choice.
You can rent textbooks for a 125 day semester, 85 day quarter or a 60 day rental. Chegg.com guarantees the quality of their books and a delivery date. They offer a 30 day “any reason” guarantee.
When your rental period ends, you send your books back free. You have the option to buy the books at the end of the rental period. Chegg.com seems like a great site if you are interested in renting books, and right now they are donating to the Unicef Haiti Relief effort for every textbook rented.
The last option is buying textbooks online. DealOz.com is a free search engine that searches over 200 online bookstores to find the best price for you. The site is easy to navigate and will show you all of the possible online stores. DealOz.com provides any online coupons that will work with specific sites such as 10 percent off your order or $5 off when you spend $50. You can rank the online stores from lowest price to highest price to find the best deal.
Once you decide on a book, click the “buy at store” icon which will redirect you to the actual site. You generally won’t pay more than $3.99 for shipping and some sites offer free shipping. Most online bookstores also have a 30 day return policy.
The key to buying books online is to order them as early as possible since you do not have the “take home on the spot” convenience as you would in the VSU Bookstore. It does not matter which method you prefer to buy your books, it just matters that you buy them.

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3 comments

  1. Renting is great! I am an avid reader and I use BookSwim to rent newly released hardcover and paperback titles.. It’s convenient and saves money!

  2. I think that depends on what service you’re using. Some campus bookstores will only buy back textbooks for a fraction of the price it was purchased for, my experience has been 30% at most. But Textbooks.com, for example, has a guaranteed buyback program which lets you to see what the buyback price of the book is when you’re buying it. From what I’ve seen, the buyback price is 50% of the new price of the book. Most of the rental sites I shopped were about 50% of the book price for a semester. So in some cases I think it can be cheaper to buy and sell back your books instead of renting them, especially if you can get the book used. That said, there is some uncertainty in the buyback program if you do not know the buyback value up front, but the overall cost of ownership with a good buyback program can be just as cheap as, if not cheaper than, renting. It’s also a little more flexible and if you decide you like or need the book you can just keep it.

  3. I’m in the textbook business, just to get that out front. What I’m interested in seeing is a comparison of the actual school year cost of ownership. After all, since you can sell your books back if you don’t get them through Chegg, your actual cost of ownership is lower than the initial purchase price. I’m not suggesting that buying is cheaper than renting, and there’s definitely something to be said for the certainty of renting as opposed to buying with the hope of selling back, but I’m curious how the numbers work out.

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