The Beauty Of Renting Books vs. Buying

So, the title might be a little deceiving—there’s not much beauty in buying books, but there are some tricks of the trade that incoming college students don’t usually know about. There are obviously numerous differences between high school and college, and having to buy your own books for class is a major one.

In high school whenever books were assigned in class, they were always checked out to students for free. So, coming to college and having to spend hundreds of dollars on books each semester can come as a shock. Every single undergrad class I took I had to buy at least one book for; and just because it’s only one book doesn’t mean it still won’t be costly. Books can range anywhere from a couple bucks to hundreds of dollars.

Since I’m in the College of Communications at my school and a lot of my classes are hands-on and design-based, not many books are required for my classes (thank goodness!). But I know that students with majors in the science and medical fields oftentimes have to buy enormous books that cost between $200-$300. Prices like this quickly burn a hole in your pocket, especially since you’re buying multiple books for each class.

One way to lose a lot of money fast is to buy all of your books. Yes, at the end of the semester the store buys back books, but the money you get back is usually just a small fraction of what you originally paid. I’ve also run into the problem where the store won’t buy a book back at all because the professor has decided to not use that book next semester. When this happens, you’re stuck with the book unless you can find another way to sell it.

This is the part where beauty comes into the picture. Anytime there’s an option to buy or rent a book, choose to rent. I had always heard buy, buy, buy when it came to books, and that’s exactly what I did my first two years. No one ever suggested that I rent, which is frustrating thinking how much money could have been saved if I had done so. The price of renting books is always cheaper than buying; the only difference is that you give them back at the end of the semester and don’t get any money back. This still saves money, though, because the amount you get back from buying books almost never makes up the difference of what you would’ve paid to rent.

One trouble I’ve run into with renting is that not all books in stores are available to rent. Though this is sometimes an inconvenience when you want to get all your books at the same time and the annoying process out of the way, don’t resort the just buying the books you can’t rent. Online sites such as are an easy way to rent books, and for super cheap too. Chegg makes it easy to find your books and they ship them right to you. All you have to do is keep the box the books come in so you can send them back at the end of the semester. This is what I did for all my books this year and it has been a lifesaver; I’ve saved hundreds of dollars, and it was much easier having them delivered rather than walking around a store carrying books that weigh a ton.

Unless you plan to be “that kid” that always asks everyone if they can share/borrow the class books, getting books is a step that you can’t avoid. While it’s never a fun and cheap process, getting the required books is crucial to your success in those classes. Before making any purchases, compare prices between all the bookstores at your school and online. You will almost always find books to be cheaper online, and it’s easier to rent this way. Renting, either in person or online, will be less of a hassle for you and keep your wallet feeling a little heavier.

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Jordyn Timpson

Jordyn Timpson

Jordyn Timpson is a junior at Michigan State University working towards her journalism degree with a specialization in documentary film. She designs and writes for a campus magazine and is a server at Bob Evans. When Jordyn has free time she likes to watch movies and her favorite show Breaking Bad, spend hours on tumblr, go on adventures with friends and travel.
Jordyn Timpson

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