Should I Buy Or Rent My Textbooks?

By: Bryan Lee, UHEAA

According to the National Association of College Stores, college students spend about $67 per course material – and that’s just on average. From personal experience, I know that I have spent anywhere from $100 to $300 on a single book in some cases. When you need to buy textbooks for more than one class, the costs add up quickly.

As a modern day college student, you may not have a lot of money to spare on pricey textbooks. But as a financially savvy modern day college student, you know (or are about to know) that there are several ways you can save on textbook costs with services that offer used textbooks, textbook renting, and even textbook sharing. Here are some options to help you decide whether to buy, rent, share, or check out your textbooks.


Pencil Post

1. Would You Use This Textbook For Longer Than One Semester?

For example, theory textbooks are more helpful as reference. Some people may even use such textbooks after their post-graduate programs.

  • Buy (used if possible – it’s cheaper to buy used textbooks)


2. The Textbook is Expensive and You Will Only Use it for One Class.

For example, when you have to take an elective course. However, you know the textbook is only useful for that one class but you will need the textbook to do well in the class.

  • Rent
  • Share with a group of (dependable) friends
  • Checkout from the library


3. The Textbook is Expensive, but You Will Use it Overtime.

  • Buy Used
  • Rent 
  • Checkout from the library 


Extra Items to Consider:

  • At times, schools or professors will create their own textbooks. This leaves your options limited for accessing course materials.
  • Typically, on the first day of classes professors will review the required materials for the class, sometimes they’ll give tips to students where to get the book for the best price or note older versions of the book that are acceptable for the class.
  • Don’t forget! You can also resell your textbooks on eBay, Amazon, KSL, etc. Use the money you get back on your books to go towards your student loans.

Here you’ll get an idea on the cost of books and supplies in comparison to other expenses as a full-time undergraduate. You can also see how certain things less or more based on various factors.

Remember to take a look at how you would use a textbook over time before purchasing, renting, sharing, or borrowing it from the library.