Find the Best Textbook Rental Companies
Compare Reviews for Top Textbook Rental Companies
|Barnes & Noble||Read 682 Reviews|
Barnes and Noble opened its first bookstore in 1886 in New York City. Today, it stands as the last remaining bookstore chain in the United States with over 600 locations, employing more than 25,000 people.
Read 466 Reviews
Established in 2010, Chegg is a web-based company that offers educational services for college and high school students. Its website features textbook rentals and sales, help with homework and online tutoring.
Read 142 Reviews
Founded in 1993, Alibris is an online marketplace company that facilitates sales between independent merchants and website users. Among many other things, consumers may rent textbooks and supplementary materials.
Read 55 Reviews
MBS Direct began as an online bookstore for one college in 1992. It now serves dozens of universities, offering required and optional texts as well as other gear. It has replaced physical bookstores at many institutions.
Read 23 Reviews
CampusBooks is a textbook comparison shopping website that helps students find the best price on new and used textbooks and ebooks from major retailers. It is based in San Diego, California and was founded in 1998.
|Amazon Textbook Rental||Read Author Review|
Founded in 1996, Amazon.com is the largest online marketplace website in the United States. The textbook rental service allows college students to select between competing vendors who agree to abide by Amazon’s rental guidelines.
|Campus Book Rentals||Read Author Review|
Campus Book Rentals is an Ogden, Utah-based textbook rental company. Founded in 2009, it offers book buybacks, rental extensions, rewards and a simple rental process and has served over a million customers.
|eCampus.com||Read Author Review|
Founded in 1999, eCampus.com is a leader in the online textbook industry. It offers a marketplace website for buying, selling or renting books and eBooks. You can save even more money with its eWards rewards program.
|Knetbooks||Read Author Review|
Founded in 2009, Knetbooks is an online textbook rental company owned by eCampus.com. It offers free shipping on every order as well as helpful customer service and a large selection of textbooks with flexible due dates.
Questions to ask when choosing a textbook rental company
What rental period options are available?
Most textbook rental companies allow some leeway with the rental period. Think about how long you’ll need the book, whether that timeframe is likely to change and whether the company offers a plan that can accommodate your needs.
- Short-term rentals: Some companies allow you to rent a book for just 30 or 60 days. This is a great option if you only need the book while you complete a term paper or if you want to rent it at the end of the semester to cram for exams.
- Quarter- or semester-long rental: Nearly all textbook rental companies allow this option, which matches up with a traditional university term on a quarterly or semester system. Quarter rentals last 90 days while semester rentals last 180 days, so you can use the text to read along with the class material and return it after finishing your final exams.
- Choose your own rental length: Some companies allow you to choose your own rental length or extend your own rental time for a prorated fee. This can be a great option if you’re not sure how long you’ll need the book or if you end up needing the book longer than you expected.
How much is shipping?
Shipping fees vary among companies, with some offering free shipping and others charging a flat or graduated rate. Be sure to consider shipping costs when you compare companies’ advertised rental prices.
- Free shipping: Some companies offer free shipping on all book rentals, while others set an order requirement, such as offering free shipping on orders of $35 or more.
- Rush shipping available: Some companies offer overnight or rush shipping for customers who need their books right away. This feature can be helpful if you forgot to order your books on time or if you are picking up a class after the term has started.
- Return shipping fees: For convenience, some companies include return shipping costs in the rental fee or offer free return shipping. Many companies send a prepaid return shipping label with the rented book. Other companies allow you to print prepaid labels from your account, while still others require you to purchase and print your own label for a specific courier such as USPS or FedEx.
- Return policy: If you drop a course or decide you don’t need a textbook, it is helpful if the company accepts returns. Many companies offer a refund for the rental cost if you return the book within a set period of time after receiving it, sometimes minus shipping fees or a restocking fee.
What other fees are there?
Some companies charge lots of hidden fees, so be sure to look into what you might be responsible for at the end of your rental.
- Damage fees: All major rental companies charge a fee if you damage a book or return it in worse condition than when you got it. Damage might include torn or dog-eared pages, writing on pages, bent covers, coffee stains and more. Most companies simply list the damage fee as variable according to the extent of the damage, up to the retail cost of the book. Some companies offer the retail price minus rental fees, which can save you money if a book is inadvertently damaged.
- Late fees: If you are not able to return your textbook by the end of your rental period, you might be charged a late fee or even a replacement fee. Check if your company offers a grace period or option to extend your rental.
How easy is the website to navigate?
Professional websites are easy to navigate and simple and convenient to use. You should easily be able to locate the book you need and see the status of orders in your user account.
- Simple search function: A well-designed website should have a simple search feature that allows you to quickly find out if the company carries the books you need. You should be able to enter the book title and author or the ISBN number to quickly see if the book is in stock and at what price.
- Clear pricing guidelines: A textbook rental company should be upfront about all of the fees associated with the rental. This will include rental amount and time period, shipping costs, late fees, cost to purchase the book (if you lose it or decide not to return it) and any other fees associated with your rental. If you find yourself confused about what the final price will be while navigating the page, you may want to look for another company.
- Account features: Most textbook rental websites allow users to create password-protected accounts and store credit card information, shipping addresses and more for easy checkout. It’s also helpful if your account shows a rental history with due dates and a one-click rental extension feature. This will automatically charge your credit card for added rental time if you find that you need the book longer than expected.
What additional features are available?
Other helpful features might differentiate one textbook rental company from its competitors. Be sure to read the website thoroughly to see if the company you are considering offers any of these features.
- Grace period: Some rental companies allow a five to 15 day grace period at the end of your rental. If your book is overdue by a few days, you won’t have to pay any extra rental fees.
- Rewards programs: Some companies have customer rewards programs that allow you to accrue points for every book that you rent. After several book rentals, you can earn dollars-off coupons or free book rentals.
- Highlighting options: Some rental companies allow you to highlight or annotate rental books without incurring any added fees, which is a great option for hands-on and visual learners. Be sure to find out if this is a feature of your rental company before marking up your rental books.
- Option to buy: Many rental companies offer the option to buy your rental book if you decide you’d rather keep it. This is usually an additional fee added to your rental fee. Many companies offer purchase prices close to retail.
Does the company have reliable customer service?
If you are looking for a book last minute or need to talk to someone about a lost or damaged book, you need options for contacting customer service promptly. The best textbook rental companies offer multiple ways to get in touch when you need to.
- Multiple methods of contact: The best textbook rental companies offer multiple ways to get in touch when you need to. The company should have a toll-free phone number and email address clearly listed on their website.
- Live-chat feature: A live-chat feature provides real-time interaction with customer service representatives and is often the best option when you’re in a rush.
- Contact the seller: Some textbook marketplace websites simply facilitate a rental or sale between you and someone who has the book you need. On these sites, check to see if there is a way to get directly in contact with the seller if there’s a problem with your book.
Types of online textbook rental companies
The first companies to offer online textbook rentals were those that already served the college textbook market. Most online campus bookstores and national textbook distributors now offer textbook rentals in addition to selling books, supplies and campus gear.
Many new companies have developed in the last few years specifically for textbook rental. These companies buy textbooks in bulk and distribute them as rentals or offer them for sale. They generally keep stock in their own warehouses instead of relying on a separate distributor to fill orders.
Several textbook rental websites serve as a host for sales from multiple vendors. These marketplace sites provide the technical features and serve as a middleman between book sellers and renters or buyers. Some of these marketplaces are dedicated to textbooks while others are mass market platforms such as Amazon.com, and textbook rentals only comprise a small portion of their revenue. You can often find good prices on these sites since each seller is competing for your business.
Who should use a rental textbook company?
Students who need books fast
Online textbook rental companies often carry the largest stock of college and university books or have access to the most resellers which means they can ship books quickly. Many also offer the option to buy if you’d prefer not to rent. Because they work almost exclusively with students, they often run attractive promotions, offer loyalty rewards and ship products fast.
Students on a tight budget
Purchasing textbooks is expensive for most students, especially if you have a full course load. Consider renting if you’re on a tight budget or having financial difficulties; you can always purchase particularly interesting or helpful books later.
Students taking courses outside their majors
If you’re required to take a course to fulfill curricular requirements but don’t find the topic particularly interesting, you might consider renting the book. If you wouldn’t want to read the book again after the class, it makes financial sense to rent.
People with textbooks to sell
Many online rental companies buy books, especially at the end of terms. If you have books lying around collecting dust and could use the extra income, consider selling them to a textbook rental company.
Managers who need several copies of a book for training purposes
While most people who use textbook rental services are students, you might also use this service if you want to get several copies of a book for a training workshop or other enrichment activity at your place of business. Renting can lower your cost while still getting the needed materials in your employees’ hands.
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Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
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