Online book rental companies are a new alternative for college students in need of textbooks. So the question is, “Is it better to buy or rent?” It depends on each individual’s situation and preference. If you’re the type of person that buys your book at full price and never gets around to selling it, then renting textbooks is definitely for you. But, if you shop around for the best deal, when purchasing a book and then use a site like Bookscouter to sell it back, then buying textbooks is the way to go.

Let’s do a case study, I’m going to pretend that I have to buy Molecular Cell Biology (9780716776017), which retails at $131.67. First I am going to find the lowest price I can rent it for at Textbookrenter. Then I am going to see how much I can buy it for at Campusbooks. After that,  I am going find out how much I can sell it for here at Bookscouter. The new historic buyback feature can show you that the price of that book has slowly gone down over time, but today (April 29th) it seems to have jumped back up a bit.

The lowest rental price was $42.21 from Campusbookrentals.com. The lowest buying price was $57.49 from Amazon.com. The highest selling price was $47.12 from Firstclassbooks.com. So if I rented the book it would have cost me a total of $42.21. If I bought the book and sold it, it would cost me a total of $10.37.

The benefit of renting is that you don’t have to worry if all of the sudden the author comes out with a new edition and your book becomes unwanted. Renting also is usually more convenient then buying and selling because it saves time. At the end of the day, if you’re willing to buy and sell your books, you will usually end up with a few more dollars in your pockets then if you rented.

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