Renting textbooks saves students money

By The Beacon | September 11, 2010 9:00pm

For the first time campus bookstore offers rentals

By Elizabeth Vogel, Staff Writer --

For her Cultural Diversity and Cultural Competence class, senior Natalie Chaddock is required to have the book "Majority-Minority Relations" by John D. Farley.

To buy the book new from the UP bookstore costs $134.35. To buy it used is $100.75.

Chaddock opted for a third and cheaper alternative: renting.

It costs $56.45 to rent "Majority-Minority Relations" for a semester.

"I rented because I knew that I wasn't going to make any money back had I bought them used, so I might as well," Chaddock said.

Renting is just one alternative to buying from the bookstore. It is also possible to find the books other places. Since the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 took effect last July, the bookstore is required to list the ISBN numbers of all the books required for a class. This makes it easier to find the book in places outside the UP bookstore.

Chaddock also used alternate sources to buy some of her textbooks, even though they were available to rent through the UP bookstore.

"I actually didn't rent all the ones I could. I found some used on other sites that were affordably priced," she said. "I would rent again if it wound up being cheaper. I just wanted to save money."

Erin Bright, UP bookstore manager, said many students have taken advantage of renting so far this semester.

"I won't have exact numbers until sometime in November, but I believe that several hundred students have rented books so far," she said.

Renting a book from the UP bookstore will typically cost 55 percent less than buying the book new, according to Bright.

You will have the book until ten days after the last day of finals and are free to make markings such as underlining and highlighting inside your rented textbook. In order to rent you must have a credit card, which will be kept on file to ensure that that book is returned, according to the UP bookstore website.

If you fail to bring the book back on time you will face some fees. These non-return fees will automatically be charged to your credit card. The charges include 75 percent of the cost of the book new along with a 7.5 percent processing fee, according to the rental agreement on UP bookstore's website.

"Each student receives up to eight e-mails during the semester as a reminder that they have a rented book and that the end of the rental period is arriving," said Bright in an e-mail.

Although renting textbooks from the UP bookstore is a new service, other rental sources have existed for a few years. has been around since 2003. It is a website that allows students to rent textbooks for a fraction of the list price of a new book., founded in 2006, offers the same service.

Junior Juliana Ringold rented a book from for her Linear Algebra class this semester. It is the first time she used the website and it was a last minute decision, she said.

"I had an old textbook from a friend, but it turned out the professor didn't want it," Ringold said.

Some friends recommended Chegg to her. Ringold is not sure if she'll use it again, because it was a little pricey.

"It costs $50 to rent it for one semester. I think to buy the book would have cost $120, but when you consider that you only have the book for about four months, it's still quite a bit of money," Ringold said.

There was an aspect of that Ringold liked.

"The nice thing about Chegg is they plant a tree when you rent a book. I thought that was pretty cool," she said.

The popularity of renting textbooks has increased in recent years, according to the National Association of College Stores (NACS).

Textbook rental services are offered by 1,500 NACS member stores this year. This is up from 200-300 stores last fall, according to a press release on the website. As a Barnes & Noble store, the UP bookstore is a member of the NACS.

However, renting might not always be the best option, according to Bright.

"It is a good idea to rent if you are taking a class that you do not think you will end up keeping the books for," Bright said in an e-mail.

She continued, "It is not a good idea to rent a book if you are taking a class that goes on longer than one semester or if you think you will end up keeping the book."

"The best ‘dollar value' though, is to be able to purchase a used book off the shelf and then be able to sell the book back for 50 percent of the purchase price at the end of the semester," Bright said via e-mail.