Textbooks: Necessary Evil Or Stress-Free Purchase?

Jan 4, 2016

Textbooks: the one thing every teacher demands and no student wants to deal with. After finally registering for classes and making that first payment towards your tuition, you would think that there would be a well-deserved break around the corner. Instead, questions start popping up, such as ‘Do I need the 7th or 8th edition? Should I bother getting it ‘new’? They used the cheaper edition last semester, why aren’t they using it now?’.

Instead of stressing over how much they’re going to cost and where you’re going to get them, simply start with answering these three questions: is there any chance I’ll use/need this in the future, how much money do I have available, and what kind of condition do I want my books in? Depending on your answers, buying or renting might be better suited for you.

Buying holds many advantages for those with the available funds. You’ll only ever have to worry about a single fee and depending on what condition you’d prefer your textbooks in, they can be found used for a low price. Unfortunately, some textbooks can run upwards of $150, especially those that come in custom packs and/or with other study aids. Buying and owning a book gives you unfettered access. Furthermore, most textbooks are good reference material, especially if they pertain to your major; and, if you ever decide to get rid of them, there are some buyback programs available that can give you anywhere from 10-40% back.

Renting is great for people who are living paycheck to paycheck or have limited funds when purchasing. Unfortunately, not all textbooks are available through renting. The best way to check is to copy and paste the ISBN number into the available search tools on the renting website. Also, if your courses go over the customary 15 weeks, you could end up with multiple fees. However, in most cases, paying for two semesters worth of renting is still cheaper than buying, especially when on a budget. On a brighter note, many renting sites, including, have discounts on outbound shipping.

Overall, I would suggest buying for those with the means to do so, but renting is always a viable option for those on a tight budget. Whichever way your funds take you, you can be sure you’re doing what’s best for your wallet.