Buying Then Selling vs. Renting Textbooks

Buying vs Renting Textbooks has only one goal and that’s to save you the most money during the school year. Whether it’s renting textbooks, going digital or buying used and selling textbooks, we always want to make sure you stay informed and are aware of the cheapest ways to purchase your textbooks every semester. So which is cheaper? It really depends on the individual. Will you return your rental in on time? Will you sell your used textbooks back?

At a glance a rental may appear to be the cheaper option for you – a cash strapped student, but it’s important to take into account a few factors that could cause your rental to cost a lot more than what was originally estimated. Having to re-rent a book for a future need, too many markings and notes, a slip of the old coffee cup, Cheeto fingerprints, a lost or stolen rental or simply not returning a textbook in time, can all easily add on to upfront cost of your textbook.

It is also important to note that a rental cannot be sold back, which is a huge negative, considering a student can use a price comparison website like ours to get almost all of their money back for their textbook. We proved this to be true last year when we conducted a study on the top 1,000 textbooks by search volume on our website and found that buying the cheapest used copy and selling it using BIGWORDS both times, instead of renting saved students an average of 95%, or $1,000 per school year. Many students even made money on their sell-backs, selling their book back for more than they originally bought it for.

It was this study that was the inspiration behind one of our favorite features on our site, our “Consider Buyback Value” feature, where we are able to offer students a glimpse into their total textbook savings.  Our Consider Buyback feature finds students the cheapest site to purchase their textbook on, as well as the sites offering the most money to sell their books back at the end of the semester. It’s a great way to see right away what will be most cost effective when it comes to purchasing textbooks, be it renting or buying.

When all is said and done, if you are still torn between rentals and buying and selling your textbooks, ask yourself one question, “Am I part of the Netflix or the Blockbuster Video store generation?’ We are serious. Due dates, penalties and late fees are not something a lot of us are accustomed to these days and missing a strict due date could easily add a hefty fee to your rental cost. Meaning what may have seemed like the cheaper option originally, could end up costing you substantially more than had you just purchased your textbook used.



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