The main advantage of textbook rental is that it is often cheaper to rent a textbook than to buy one. Textbooks can be very expensive to purchase brand new, and students who do not need a textbook for more than one or two terms might come out ahead financially if they opt to rent rather than purchase their books. Even though there are several advantages to textbook rental, there are occasionally some instances where it might be more practical to purchase a textbook. Some examples of circumstances where purchasing a textbook would be best are when textbooks are needed for several terms or when textbooks include media, such as DVDs or CDs, that might not come with the rental version.
List prices for brand new textbooks are often incredibly high. Students who are struggling with finances during college may not have the funds available to pay the list price for brand new books. Paying the list price often seems extravagant when the book is needed for only a few terms. Many college and university bookstores offer textbook rental to students who cannot afford to buy their books. Rental prices vary, but most students find that it is usually much less expensive to rent a textbook than buy one brand new.
Sometimes it is better to buy textbooks brand new rather than rent them. If the book is going to be needed for several terms, the price of renting the book could exceed the list price of the book over time. When this is the case, money would likely be saved if the book were purchased new. Sometimes textbook rentals do not come with some of the book components, such as DVDs or CDs, that are necessary for a class. If the rental book does come with the components, there is always a chance that the media might be scratched or unusable due to frequent use by other students.
One alternative to textbook rental is buying textbooks used rather than new. Many students actively seek out used books rather than sign a rental agreement for a textbook because used prices are often much lower than list prices and might even be less than what it would cost to rent a book for several terms. College campuses often have a used book section available in their bookstores. Another source for finding used textbooks is the Internet. Online auction sites and bookstores with third-party selling programs are some popular sources for used textbooks.