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Textbook Tips: Renting Textbooks

Why Rent?

Renting textbooks is significantly cheaper than buying them and can be the best option if you do not plan on keeping the book after the course ends. But remember that you often cannot write notes in the margins of rented textbooks and sometimes you only have access to a digital version.

Tips for Renting
  • Double check that you are purchasing the right items. This may seem obvious, but it's easy to overlook details like book editions or supplementary materials. Search by ISBN to get an exact match for the unique version of the book you need, and be sure your order comes with any additional software, study guides, etc.
  • Think about the trade-offs such as delays or shipping costs. If a website sells a book for $30 less than the bookstore, but they charge $15 for shipping and the wait time is 2 weeks, is the $15 difference worth the hassle or possibility of not having your book in time?
  • Check shipping & return policies! Many online vendors pay for shipping on principle or if your order is above a certain amount, but do your research: some sellers will not pay for return shipping even if they ship the wrong edition or if you decide to return the book within the return policy's timeline.

Where to Rent Textbooks

In addition to the bookstore, there are a growing number of online websites which offer rental textbooks for an affordable price. Here are a few places to start your search:

  • Alibris is an online network of booksellers who rent new and used textbooks. If you know all of the books you need, enter their ISBNs and use the Price Bundle for a list of the best prices.
  • Amazon offers new or used textbooks for rental from Amazon's warehouse or sellers. College students can sign up for a 6-month trial of Amazon Prime Student and get free 2-day shipping.
  • Campus Book Rentals only offers U.S. edition textbooks and allows students to pick the exact length of time they would like to rent their books.
  • Chegg rents textbooks with free shipping both ways and a 4 week free trial of Chegg Study.
  • TextbookRentals compares prices for dozens of textbook rental sites and allows rentals for a semester (120+ days), a quarter (90 to 199 days), or a session (less than 90 days).

Screenshot of alibris homepage for searching for textbooks