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Renting textbooks is a very popular option among students when it comes to textbook choices.

While not being much different than buying your textbook at the beginning of the term and selling it back at the end, renting doesn't require as much cost for the student up front and guarantees you won't be stuck with the textbook if a new edition of the book comes out at the end of the term.

The only minor hindrance about renting textbooks from online textbook stores is the shipping of the bulky textbooks.

The good news is most textbook renters provide a pre-paid shipping envelope to return the textbook at the end of the rental period.

The main benefit of textbook rental is the low upfront cost. Beginning a new term, you’re required to obtain textbooks, study guides, and other tools for classroom use. Because renting textbooks is cheaper, money that would have been spent on buying new textbooks can now be used to purchase other needed classroom goods (and more pizza).

College textbooks have always made up a large chunk of the expenses students face every year. Perhaps students will stop going through costly college bookstores that sell textbooks at a high list price and offer a buyback at a fraction of the cost.

In an effort to lower textbook costs to students, some universities are incorporating textbook rental programs on their campuses as well. These programs allow students to rent a textbook for about one-third of the cost of purchasing a brand new one.

One of the more prominent textbook renters out there is Chegg.

Of course, renting a textbook means you’ll have to take extra care of it. Chegg doesn’t allow writing in its books, but does allow limited highlighting.

If you ever decide that you need your rented textbook longer than the rental period, you can either request an extension (which may require a minimal payment) or just choose to buy the book directly so the book becomes your property. Chegg offers the option of a 15-day or 30-day rental extension. There is also an additional option to rent the textbook for a full quarter extension, or full semester extension, at 25% discount off the full rental price.

Students can save up to 65% by renting their textbooks; a big cut for one of the biggest expenses for students (outside of tuition).

Amazon Textbook Rental

Amazon has rental textbooks in both print and in digital form for the Kindle.

Amazon Kindle textbook rentals can be downloaded immediately after purchase and renters can choose their rental period (any length between 30 and 360 days), so you only need to pay for the time you actually need the book, rather than set intervals. Tens of thousands of titles will be available for the upcoming school year in the Fall. Check them out at Amazon.com/kindletextbooks.

Prices Compared to Other Textbook Renters

At first glance, prices for textbook rentals on Amazon do seem affordable. When compared to other book renters, Amazon sits close to the top third when ranked by lowest cost, according to a study we did to find the cheapest textbooks online. (The cheapest place we found to get textbook rentals was at CampusBookRentals.com, who rent out textbooks in their traditional form, rather than digital.)

We also found eTextbook rentals on Amazon to be much cheaper than (eTextbook) market leader VitalSource, though VitalSource does have more titles available in the digital format.

Other features of the Amazon Kindle Textbook Rental Program:

  • Easily extend any rental period in increments as small as one day.

  • Students can choose to purchase the book they are renting at any time.

  • When rental period ends, you still get to keep any annotations and highlighted content made in the book. These notes are made available in the Amazon Cloud and are available anytime, anywhere.

  • Kindle textbook rentals can also be read on other devices with free Kindle Reading Apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android-based devices.