Whether you are starting an academic university year or simply preparing for your second semester, you are probably wondering which of these would be best: to buy the new textbooks you’ll need or resort to renting them from a library. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, which we will develop a little further in this article. It is important to consider which would be the best choice for you before opting for one possibility or the other. We will try to help you decide on this article which option is better for you. buying or renting textbooks.
These are the questions you should ask yourself before deciding if you should rent or buy textbooks.
Are the books going to be major working tools for your subject?
If you need to get a copy of a textbook which includes activities you’ll have to do daily as part of the classwork, or theory books which include key exams points your professor has specifically mentioned, it may be better to purchase one of your own.
This way, you won’t feel very apprehensive to write or underline over a book which isn’t yours, and won’t have to worry about having to return it on a certain day while you still need it and not knowing where to get another copy from in time. On the other hand, if we’re talking about reference books which won’t be used that often and may serve as an optional guideline, the best option would be borrowing them from a library and return them once you dug out everything you needed from them.
“Do you think money grows on trees?!”
I am aware that students (such as myself) often have a tight budget, but don’t panic: there are plenty of bookstores that offer special discounts in their products for students (always keep your student card in your wallet/bag/backpack with you, it may come in handy even when you’re not expecting it). What is more, you can also resort to second-hand bookshops, whose prices are always lower than the original ones, or even make a bargain with a student from your university.
Look at the walls and bulletin boards of your faculty: more often than not, there are adverts in which students offer to sell their books from previous years. If any of these items happen to be the ones you need, get informed about the quality in which they are and the price the other person asks for them. Another option could be going to your local reprography service. Some professors leave available copies of the archives they require in there. Even though they are not free, these copies are usually notably cheaper than their bookstore counterparts. And also, some books are available for free online, in PDF or epub format. Try taking a look at safe online libraries, such as Project Gutenberg, for instance. You may find exactly what you need!
What’s your budget?
If your budget is really tight and you still opt to buy a book, I wouldn’t particularly recommend buying them online. It is true that there are some very reliable internet sale companies out there which offer new and second-hand products at affordable prices; but shipping costs are often expensive and you may have to wait several weeks for your order to arrive, which isn’t a pleasant situation if you have an exam coming up that would require said product.
Try going for one of the options which have been suggested in the previous paragraph: either download them from the Internet or buy cheaper copies. On the other hand, you can also resort to renting them. There are many people who ask themselves what’s the point in buying books they know they will never touch again once they pass their corresponding examinations and get done with the classes which required them. Therefore, they prefer to rent their books.
You can save a lot of money with this option, but you must keep in mind that you will have to be extremely careful with a rented book: since it’s not yours, you won’t be free to underline or scribble notes on it to your heart’s content (some libraries punish very severely students who return their borrowed books full of phosphorescent ink marks and shorthand-like writings), and you have to make sure you don’t turn it in late or don’t lose it somewhere. If you’re naturally a neat and organized person, it won’t be much of an effort to get around with books from your local library. Forgetful and messy students, try to make an effort and be more attentive or otherwise come to terms that this option isn’t really for you!
Congratulations! Your classes are over, you have passed all of your exams… and now you don’t know what to do with the books you have purchased a few months ago. Probably your greatest desire right now (and we all get them sometimes, trust me) would be to use them as tinder for a bonfire and wildly dance around their scorching pages to celebrate the end of the semester/academic year. But please don’t waste perfectly useful books.
Keep them for some time; you may need them for the following semester. If that’s not the case, and you seriously want/need some of the money you spent in buying those books back, put them up for sale. Post ads around your faculty.
Amazon or eBay can also be good options. And this way, you can also lend a hand to another fellow student who is now in the same situation you were in a few months ago! I know, you didn’t receive as much money as you paid for those books, but it’s always better than nothing, right?
What about you? Do you prefer to buy your books or would you rather rent them?
Can you think of any more advantages or disadvantages of going for an option or the other? Let us know in the comment section!