A guide to textbooks: rent or buy?

Each changing semester inevitably comes with a lazy Susan of new required textbooks.

Even before you get to college, people will tell you how expensive textbooks are. And guess what? They're actually right. The key to your (and your bank account's) survival is to know whether to buy or rent your textbooks and where to do so.

Being a journalism major, I have one simple rule about my textbooks: only buy books that are required by my major, core classes. Yes, as a freshman, I had to take a math class. But will I need that Finite textbook after class? No, no I will not. Therefore, I rent it for the entire semester for a mere $20 and mail it back when I'm done with the final.


There are plenty of websites that allow you to rent your books. My go-to website for textbook rentals is Chegg.com. Chegg tries to give you the best price for you book, gives you a reasonable amount of time to mail it back, and even takes care of the shipping and handling for you. Other textbook rental websites include campusbookrentals.com and bookrenter.com. If you would rather rent your textbook in person, you can either try TIS Bookstore on 3rd St. or the Barnes and Noble bookstore at the student union.

Another perk of renting your textbooks is not only the price reduction, but also the fact you may end up retaining some of that important information from the textbook after all. If you take well-written notes and save them, then you can use those if you ever need to go back to that subject area (which probably won't be very likely, but still). 


Buying your textbooks is a bit trickier. In my experience, I have ever only purchased my textbooks from one place: Amazon.com. Fun fact: I paid $8 for a textbook I needed to purchase for my JOUR-J 375 class this fall. Eight. Dollars. Yes, you read that correctly. In all honesty, the most I've ever paid for a textbook on Amazon.com is about $15. For me, I don't need a textbook in the best condition, just one where the pages aren't falling out and the sentences are still readable. ALWAYS go into the "used" section when you find your correct textbook. Yes, in a perfect world, I would want all of my textbooks to be equally as perfect, but not if the difference between "Brand New" and "Like New" is $40. 

Just be sure to ask yourself, "Do I really need a pristine book?" Chances are, it's probably going to get dirty and/or crushed in that backpack of yours anyways. 

So, to sum it up:

  1. Textbooks are expensive, but yours don't have to be.
  2. Make sure you know whether or not you want to buy or rent your books.
  3. If you want to rent, make sure to check out various rental websites and/or physical book stores.
  4. If you want to buy, go to Amazon.com first. If you don't like the prices Amazon has, try Ebay or Barnes and Noble.
  5. If you ended up buying a textbook that you really don't feel like you need, you can always sell it back at the end of the semester.
  6. Take a money bath in all the extra cash you saved by following my advice.
About The Author
Tori LawhornJournalism major

Hi! I'm Tori. I'm currently a sophomore majoring in journalism with specializations in public relations and digital and interactive media-journalism. I'm also pursuing two minors, one in communications and culture and one in psychology. I'm the spring General Assignments Editor for the Indiana Daily Student as well as one of the 2013-2014 Co-Directors of Programming for the IU Public Relations Student Society of America. I'm also the spring Public Relations Intern for Astonish Media Group, LLC. I'm a proud Ernie Pyle Scholar and Hutton Honors College mentor and host. I like pleasant weather, good books, movies, music, school, traveling, penguins, and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Go Hoosiers!