Students save by renting or buying used textbooks

Last updated: 06/27/12 1:35pm


As students head to bookstores to purchase their fall textbooks, they might want to consider a few options before doing so.

Many students are choosing to rent or purchase used copies of textbooks to save money.

African-American studies and secondary english education double major Benjamin Barnes said he relies on a couple of websites to find the best deal on textbooks.

“I normally buy my textbooks from Amazon or eBay,” Barnes said. “I probably spent about $100 on textbooks this semester.”

Other popular websites among college students include www.chegg.com and www.half.com.

These websites offer textbook rentals and free return shipping when the semester ends; rental periods can be extended for an additional fee. Students also have the option of purchasing used or new textbooks, which they can sell back anytime.

Social work major Deanna Emanuel said she doesn’t look forward to purchasing textbooks because they are too expensive.

“I’d say I spend roughly $300 since I take five classes. I usually rent them, but depending on the class, I’ll buy it,” Emanuel said. “I check Ned’s and the bookstore at the student center, but depending on the price, I might compare online. I use Amazon or textbooks.com.”

Nursing major Tram Nguyen said she prefers getting her textbooks from Ned’s Bookstore every semester.

“They have a rental deal and buy books back at the end of the semester,” she said.

How much money can students actually save by renting textbooks versus purchasing new textbooks?

Students could save approximately 48-60 percent by renting their textbooks instead of purchasing new copies.

Eastern Michigan University professor James Pinson recommends purchasing earlier editions of textbooks to save money.

“I find myself talking to students the first day about any acceptable, cheaper alternatives to texts I require or recommend,” Pinson said.

Emanuel said she would purchase earlier editions of textbooks depending on the subject.

“I’d definitely buy an older edition if the price was right and if the professor okayed it,” Emanuel said.

Students might want to talk with their professors to find out what editions of textbooks are acceptable for the courses they are taking.

Pinson also encourages students to purchase used copies of textbooks.

“There’s nothing wrong with buying used textbooks and I think many students prefer them,” he said.

If students purchase used copies of earlier textbook editions, they could save approximately 98 percent.

For example, a used copy of “Working With Words: A Handbook for Media Writers and Editors (6th edition)” can be purchased for $1 on eBay.

Pinson offers a few words of advice to the increasing amount of students choosing to rent and purchase used copies of textbooks.

“I’d just say compare what percentage you typically get selling back a book at the end of the semester, versus just paying the rental price and returning the book for nothing,” Pinson said. “I’d recommend that students wait until the first day of class before buying books to see whether they really need to spend as much money as they might think.”

Published Jun 25, 2012 in News

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