Students: Consider Renting, not Buying, Your Books

13 January 2009 at 11:31 am 6 comments

| Peter Klein |

Chegg is the Netflix of college textbooks. Get your book in the mail, along with a prepaid return address label, don’t write in it too much, and send it back once the semester is over. I took a quick look and the savings appear to be substantial for brand-new books, modest otherwise (because there are robust secondary markets for used textbooks). The newest edition of a book I assigned last semester is $127 new from Amazon, $72 for a one-semester rental from Chegg. I wonder if the books come in those cute little red mailing sleeves? (Via cnet).

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Education.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Per Bylund  |  13 January 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Actually, Campus Book Rentals seems to be marginally cheaper – and they ship for free. So for students looking to rent books because it is cheaper, Campus Book Rentals might be a better option.

  • 2. Marc Benoit  |  13 January 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Your example seems like a questionable deal. Why is it economically advantageous to rent a $127 book for $72/semester? First, as you already indicated, you can probably buy a used copy for a similar, if not cheaper, price; which you can then resell again if you prefer. Second, even if you buy a new copy, you can still sell it, quite likely, for more than the 44% discount you have to pay with Cheqq. Third, one would hope that a student of your course will use the book not only for one semester or year but, at least, for his/her entire studies; again Cheqq would be a bad deal in this case.

  • 3. textbook pirate  |  14 January 2009 at 10:08 am

    I’ve got a better idea: Take your textbook, tear it apart, shove it through a pdf creator, buy an ebook reader, and share it with all your friends.
    You did it with all your CD’s, now do it with your textbooks.

  • 4. Peter Klein  |  14 January 2009 at 10:17 am

    Pirate, come on, don’t you realize the median age of our readership is about 62? Foss barely even knows how to turn his computer on!

  • 5. Will  |  18 January 2009 at 12:32 pm

    The only way I could see this being worth it is if you are purchasing edition x and you know edition y will be available the following semester. That is the only time I have ever really gotten hammered when trying to resell. Even then, most professors do not change their required texts promptly so demand for an old edition might persist for a semester or two after a new copy is released.

  • 6. Dj  |  1 September 2009 at 1:48 pm

    My daughter is going to Ohio State and the newest twist is textbooks changing every semester so used books are not an option.

    With cut-throat policies like that I am sure that one or more students have contemplated the tear-and-scan scheme.

    Thanks for the info on the rental books … I will look into it.

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