Pros and cons of college textbook rental

Don't Waste Your Money

Many parents of college students are now breathing a sigh of relief, having signed off on that big fall bill for tuition.

But not so fast:  It's now time to buy textbooks. Luckily, there are some new ways to slash those costs.

$200 for a single book?

We spoke with two engineering students facing hundreds of dollars in textbooks fees. "One of them is $200, the other is $130," one student complained.  "It's pretty expensive."
So they try to buy used versions, and even share books if possible. That cuts the price by 50%.

But other students we spoke with told us they are turning to an even cheaper option: textbook rentals.

Where to rent

Top rated rental sites include:

     - : The "granddaddy of rental sites," it has a reputation for having the most titles, though it's not always the cheapest.

     -Campus Book

New this year, Amazon is now renting too , as well as selling used textbooks, though its selection appears more limited, students say.

We could see the appeal of renting, as we browsed some titles in a campus bookstore.

The popular accounting book, Survey of Accounting by Carl Warren, lists for a whopping $264. Used versions are usually well over $100.

       -But rents it for $98 a semester.
       -Chegg rents it for $80  a semester
        -Campus Book Rentals rents it for $22 a semester, though it is not the newest version.

Beware outdated versions

And that's the one catch: the rental may be an older version.
For instance, the new version of Survey of Accounting shows a windmill farm on the cover: Several sites are renting editions showing cash on the cover,  that are as much as 5 or 6 years old.

Be sure to check with your professor before renting an older edition:  In some cases, the changes are very minor. But in other cases, the chapters and text won't match.

But $300 for a new book? Many students would probably say don't waste your money.

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