Renting textbooks is becoming a booming industry for college students looking to save money at the beginning of each semester. Buying textbooks for classes often leaves students paying hundreds of dollars for overpriced books they may crack only once or twice for a course. While purchased textbooks can be sold back at the end of a semester, the amount you get from a buyback is a fraction of the money the bookstore will make by turning right around and reselling the exact same book.
Services like chegg.com, ecampus.com, and campusbookrentals.com offer rental programs for college textbooks at a much lower price than you can find at the campus bookstore. Usually, at the beginning of a semester, your rental service will ask for a list of books you need and ship them to you before the beginning of class. After finals, students print out a prepaid mailing slip, pack up the textbooks, put them in the mail, and wait for the next batch of textbooks to arrive.
However, these services can levy some pretty hefty fees and penalties for textbooks which are late or in bad condition. In order to avoid paying any more than you need to, here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you stay in good standing with your textbook rental company:
- Don’t be late – Return your rented textbooks on time! Late fees are one of the most common ways students incur additional costs for textbooks. Some companies will call these “rental extension” fees, but don’t be fooled. Sometimes there will be a grace period after the end of the semester for sending books back. Check with your provider; if you wait too long to return your books, they may charge you the purchase price. To be on the safe side, print your shipping label and send your textbooks back as soon as finals are over.
- Make sure textbooks are in good shape – A good rule of thumb is send the book back in the same condition it was in when you received it. Unfold any dog-earred pages, erase pencil marks, and remove any papers you may have kept inside.
- Ship the books back correctly – Most rental companies have partnerships with shipping companies like UPS or FedEx which handle the delivery and return of textbooks. Make sure your books are in a secure container (some companies require the actual company box to be used). Because of the business relationship with the shipping company, most rental services won’t accept returns sent via a different provider. Shipping is “free” when returning your textbooks, in the sense that you can print a shipping label and drop it off at any UPS or FedEx pickup point.
If you haven’t returned your rented textbooks yet, double check that you’ve included all your books in the package and make sure you use the right shipping provider to send them back. Then it’s time to order next semester’s books!