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Buying Textbooks Can Drain a Student's Wallet

One of my least favorite things about college was visiting the campus bookstore at the beginning of every semester. To save on money I asked professors if I could get a previous edition. Sometimes it didn't matter that I was one edition behind the class – the book was almost the exact same with wording and problems. I'd hop on a site like and save some money.

However there were many times when I couldn't do that and the options at the bookstore were expensive whether I bought new or used. What I didn't like was that 90% of the books were books I would keep once I was finished with the class. They'd be outdated even before the year was over. When you're talking about up to $200 for a SINGLE textbook new (used ones were gone) and having 4-5 classes a semester, it can add up very quickly.

College students today have more options, including renting their textbookscollege textbooks

eCampus Offers Book Rentals

One big site for renting college textbooks is eCampus.

Competitive Prices

I went ahead and tried out the site to get an idea of how much students could save. I used my alma mater's bookstore's site to grab 3 textbooks currently in use. I then looked the prices for buying them new, used, and renting them. Here's what I found out:

Textbook: Managerial Economics by Baye (ISBN 9780073375960) 7th Edition

  • Buy New Price: $205.50 (University) vs $202.70 (eCampus)
  • Buy Used: $152.25 (University) vs $142.41 (eCampus)
  • Rent (One Semester): $102.65 (University) vs $89.72 (eCampus)
  • Digital: $142.25 (University) vs $129.60 (eCampus)

Textbook: Accounting Information Systems by Romney (ISBN 9780132552622) 12th Edition

  • Buy New Price: $233.50 (University) vs $224.00 (eCampus)
  • Buy Used: $175.25 (University) vs $159.83 (eCampus)
  • Rent (One Semester): $116.63 (University) vs $86.08 (eCampus)
  • Digital: – (University) vs $111.59 (eCampus)

Textbook: Systems Analysis & Design Methods (ISBN9780073052335 ) 7th Edition

  • Buy New Price: $219.75 (University) vs $216.85 (eCampus)
  • Buy Used: $165.00 (University) vs $152.5 (eCampus)
  • Rent (One Semester): $93.38 (University) vs $95.98 (eCampus)
  • Digital: $142.25 (University) vs $138.60 (eCampus)

There are the ISBN numbers for you to check out if you want to verify the prices compared to your own school. If I was back in college, I'd look into renting my text books as a serious option. If you feel that the textbook is a resource, then buy used or save space and get the digital version so you can have it at your finger tips for reference.

The good news if you do buy the book and later decide you don't want to keep it, you can sell it to eCampus. All you need to do is enter the ISBN’s of all of your books on their site to get a quote.

Thoughts on Renting Textbooks

If you're in college and you're looking at keeping your textbook expenses reasonable, check out eCampus to see if it's the right fit for you. What do you think about this option? Do you think this will become even bigger in the next 5 years?


About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

2 comments add your comment

  1. The idea is a good one, but until professors and publishers stop making “new” editions that are only small variations of the old ones it won’t do a lot of good. All it takes is a professor or publisher using the next version to make these books obsolete (at least when it comes to homework). That always struck me as silly when I was in college, especially because the only thing new was the order of questions or some such nonsense. If that’s the case, hit the local college library to get the questions as needed. A lot of them have books that can’t leave the library and you can get the questions from there while having a cheaper book to get the facts. (the basics for math/science tend not to change too much year to year)

    Personally, I’d love to see reasonably priced ebooks for rent (or buy) for college texts. Paying $2-4k per year just for college texts you’ll likely never use again just isn’t worth it.

  2. I have to agree with Peter. The option to rent textbooks is good, but it won’t solve the overlying problem of frequent edition updates, and professors demanding that older editions are insufficient. It’s absolutely ridiculous.