To rent or to buy? That is the question college students ask every semester

Gathering information on textbooks can help students decide whether they would be better off renting or buying from bookstores or from online websites.

Emily Spivey, assistant manager of the Floyd campus bookstore, said that due to lower prices, renting hardback and digital textbooks can save students money. Students can write and highlight in the rented books.

For instance, instead of buying a book for $100, the book can be rented for $60 and given back at the end of the semester, saving a student $40.

Sometimes there are cases where students cannot rent books like with MyMathLab or other courses that have one-time only access codes.

Once that code has been opened by a student, it cannot be returned or resold because another student cannot use that same code.

There are also some occasions when buying a book is better than renting.

Spivey encourages students to pay attention to how long they will need access to a book.

She stated, “Students should check with their teachers to see if a group of courses will span over two semesters.”

For example, Bob will take Geology 1 and Geology 2 and both courses use the same textbook, meaning he will need the same book for two semesters. The book costs $242 to buy and $160 to rent for one semester.

Instead of renting the book one semester for $160 and then renting the book again the second semester for another $160, it will be better to buy the book for $242.

Buying would save Bob $78. Plus, since Bob bought the book, he can try to resell the back to the bookstore, sell it online, or to a friend, putting even more money in his pocket.