Buying vs Renting Textbooks: Review of Top College Bookstores

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 14, 2022  •  11 min read  •  College
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When you’re in college, you want to make sure you get the textbooks you need for class. You can choose between buying or renting textbooks from top college bookstores. There is a case for both.

In some cases, it makes sense to buy textbooks. Other times, it’s better to rent them. The top college bookstores will offer the option of buying or renting textbooks.

As a college student, it’s up to you to figure out which is best for you. With college textbooks ranging from $30 to $240, not every situation is the same. Let’s look at some of the things you should know about buying and renting textbooks.

Buying vs Renting Textbooks: Which is Better?

The answer to this question really depends on what benefits you want. There are benefits to buying textbooks and benefits to renting textbooks. Both offer something a bit different.

When you rent textbooks, you will likely get a much lower price upfront. However, if you buy a textbook, you can use it for as long as you want and keep it, if you prefer. Let’s go a little deeper into the pros and cons of both.

Pros of Buying Textbooks

Cons of Buying Textbooks

Pros of Renting Textbooks

Cons of Renting Textbooks

There are pros and cons to buying and renting textbooks. One may fit better than the other for you. In some cases, buying is better, while in other cases renting makes more sense.

When Does it Make Sense to Rent Textbooks?

When you’re low on funds, it almost always makes sense to rent your textbooks. This will save you the most money upfront.

It also makes sense to rent textbooks when it’s a class that doesn’t fit your major. If you know the book will do you no good to keep as a resource, you might just want to rent it instead of buying it.

Maybe you have no interest in trying to resell your textbooks. If this is the case, renting gives you a great option. you can simply return the books when you’re done.

When Does it Make Sense to Buy Textbooks?

If you have the money to buy your textbooks upfront, it often makes sense to do so. This gives you the ability to keep the book as a resource or resell it.

Those looking to get money back out of their books will want to buy them. It can also make a lot of sense to buy a textbook when you think you might want to keep it.

For those not so good with deadlines, buying makes more sense, too. Rented books have to be returned. If you’re late, you’ll pay a fee. Those fees can add up pretty fast.

Top 6 College Bookstores for Renting

1. Amazon

Renting textbooks is very easy when you use Amazon. If you have a Prime Student account, you can even get your textbooks in two days. They even allow you to change your mind and buy the book if you want. When you do this, the rental fee goes towards the purchase price.

2. Chegg

Another good place to rent textbooks is Chegg. They offer low prices and the ability to customize your rental time. Maybe you need to keep a book for longer or you decide to buy it. Chegg will let you do either one.

They also allow you to return your textbooks for free. You can also highlight in the textbooks with Chegg.

3. Campus Book Rentals

When you choose Campus Book Rentals, you can rent textbooks pretty easily. They give you a search engine to find new and used textbooks. Once you put in the right details, you will get a list of prices to choose from.

Campus Book Rentals also offers live customer support. They let you highlight in the books and you can extend your rental period.


Another good option for renting textbooks is You get free shipping on any rentals over $35 and they offer three different rental terms.

5. ValoreBooks

You can enjoy free return shipping and a price match guarantee from ValoreBooks. When you rent here, you won’t find a better price. If you do, you can get a partial refund if you find a lower rental price within a week.

They offer rentals by the quarter or semester. You will need to pay for shipping on each book you rent, however.

6. KnetBooks

Another option with free shipping for textbook rentals is KentBooks. They don’t have a minimum for free shipping, either. Books can also be returned for free through UPS with a prepaid label.

Top 7 College Bookstores for Buying

1. Amazon

Of course, you can find plenty of textbooks for sale on Amazon. This is a very popular place to find new and used textbooks. With Prime Student, you can get super-fast shipping, too.

Amazon also allows you to rent your books and gives you ap lace to sell them back when you’re done.

2. Bookscouter

Compare prices across multiple sellers and find the best option for you with Bookscouter. This is one of the top spots to find textbooks for sale and a great place to resell your books, too.

3. AbeBooks

A marketplace filled with independent sellers, AbeBooks is a great place to find your textbooks. The sellers will ship directly to you and you can find new, used, and older textbooks when you need them. Often, the prices are better than brick-and-mortar bookstores.


You can find all kinds of textbooks from different sources with They will show you prices and let you compare them from other sites selling textbooks. This can be very helpful when you want to find the best price for buying textbooks both new and used.

5. BookFinder

This is another site you can use to aggregate the textbook prices you need. They will pull from multiple places to help you find the best deal possible. You can search by price, publication year, and a few other options.

6. BigWords

A site known for providing great deals when you buy textbooks is BigWords. They are known for providing textbooks at about 35% to 45% less than other online stores. You can compare prices with other stores here, too.

7. CampusBooks

Another search engine allowing you to compare textbooks is CampusBooks. They offer prices from all kinds of retailers for you to compare side-by-side.

Best Places to Resell Your Textbooks

If you decide to buy textbooks, you might want to resell them when you’re done. Sometimes, you can do this and get most of your money back, depending on the book.

Of course, you can resell your books on sites like Amazon and eBay. If you want to avoid shipping the books, you can use the Facebook Marketplace or even Craigslist. However, there are a few sites that might work even better. will allow you to sell used or new textbooks without paying any fees. Just enter the ISBN and get a quote on your book. Then, you can ship it to them for free. You will receive payment via check in the mail or through PayPal once they have received the book. It usually takes about 13 days to get your payment.

Blue Rocket Books offers another option for selling your textbooks. They will let you do a search by ISBN and find the offered price for your books. When you sell, they provide a prepaid shipping label for you to use. For all the books Blue Rocket Books buys, they also donate a book.

You can also use Bookbyte to resell your textbooks. It works much like the others mentioned and you can receive payment in a few weeks via a check or PayPal.

There are many ways to resell your textbooks when you’re done. This is a great way to get some money back out of your books after you’re done with them.

Buying vs. Renting Textbooks: Saving Money on Your Textbooks

There are plenty of great ways to save money on your textbooks. Of course, you can rent textbooks to save money. You can also buy them and resell them when you’re done. However, these are not the only ways to save money on your textbooks.

Use the School Library

When you only need a textbook for a specific lesson, you can see if the library at school has it. You might be able to borrow the book or you may have to do the lesson in the library. Just remember, you won’t be able to mark or highlight in the book. If other students are trying to do the same thing, it might be difficult to get the book.

Of course, if you only need a chapter or two, you can always make copies of the book. This can be an easy way to get what you need without buying or renting the textbook.

Get the Electronic Version

Sometimes, you can get an eBook instead of a physical textbook. This is often much cheaper than getting a physical book. When you get the eBook, you may have to use it on your phone, tablet, or computer, however.

Consider the Open Textbook Library

This website provides hundreds of textbooks you can get for free. They are openly licensed by authors and publishers. Students can download them and use these textbooks for free.

Get a Scholarship

With the right scholarship, you get money for textbooks and supplies. Many different scholarships are geared specifically for this reason. Search and apply for the right scholarships and you might get free textbooks.

All of these options offer alternatives to buying or renting textbooks. Since textbooks are expensive, it might take a combination of all of these options to save money on your textbooks.

When you need one of the top college bookstores to buy or rent textbooks, you need to know where to look. There are many great options out there. Of course, you can also consider alternatives to get the textbooks you need.

There is no right or wrong answer when considering buying or renting textbooks. Sometimes, it’s the situation or your budget that dictates the option you choose. With the list of top college bookstores above, you can find the books you need this semester for a lower price.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.