To Rent or Buy? Textbook Dilemma Gets Easier

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To buy or to rent? This is the question college students ask themselves across the nation as the beginning of the semester draws near.

In Connecticut, some colleges are starting a rental textbook program in their bookstores just in time for the fall.

Quinnipiac University is one of the latest school to participate. Students now have the option of renting, something that will reportedly save students at least 50 percent of what they’d spend to buy textbooks. The service is called Rent-A-Text.

The website, owned by Follett Corporation, rents textbooks to students in 47 states. For a full list of schools, visit the Rent-a-Text Web site.

Even though Quinnipiac and other Connecticut schools are now using the service, there are several sites from which students can rent books if they prefer not to rent through their college bookstore.

A popular site among students is Chegg, which displays how much money the site has saved for students so far – as of Tuesday, it was more than $232 million.

For every textbook rented, a tree is planted, and the student can even pick where the tree is planted. Chegg has planted more than 4,000 acres of trees to date, and works with the American Forests nonprofit organization.

Nikki Francis, who will be a junior at Quinnipiac University, has used Chegg for her textbooks, and it has shrunken her textbook budget.

“I definitely saved a lot of money. It varies on how many books you’re getting and how expensive they are. I would much rather rent than anything else. Also, by renting from Chegg, you help the environment. … Two good things at once, saving money and helping the environment,” said Francis.

Twitter user @LindsayP82 also uses

“Super easy process, really fast shipping, and great prices,” she tweeted.

Through Rent-A-Text, more than 30 percent of titles will be available to rent, but students can still purchase new, used or digital book copies. Students will also have the option to purchase any textbook they rent during the semester, and the option to highlight and take notes.

All materials must be returned after final exams or the renter will be charged for the price of the book.

To make an account, students can go to the site; create a “patron” profile, submit “collateral information” (just in case the rental is damaged or not returned by the returned date), and accept the rental terms.
However, some students will still stick to buying textbooks.

Rick Rothstein told NBC Connecticut through Facebook that prefers to shop around for new or used books online and buy them that way.

“Some remarkable savings. Amazon and some other booksellers are considerably cheaper even on brand new editions. You can always sell the book on campus on or online when you’re done,” he wrote.

He also likes the fact that he can sell it back to the bookstore.

“Buying has always been cheaper than renting … and does not have the risk of ‘not meeting the requirements’ for return,” he said.

This upcoming Fall 2010 semester, students will still be asking themselves if they would prefer to rent or buy, but now they will have yet another place from which to rent.

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