Forget buying, rent textbooks direct from publisher for college book rentals


Textbook rentals aren't new. WalletPop has covered several third party companies such as, which rent textbooks to users at prices far below retail for college book rentals, but now publishers are getting in the game.

Cengage Learning
is a big player in the textbook industry, providing digital and print textbooks under several different brands and many subjects, and will now rent textbooks to students for 40-70% off retail.

The discounted prices are similar to that of other book rental services which are very close to representing the savings that a student would see from purchasing a used textbook and re-selling it at the end of the semester.

One of the reasons Cengage can provide books at such a discount is that unlike selling a book, which enters a secondary market with no future revenue for the seller, rentals can provide publishers with profit every semester.

To stand out from the other book rental companies Cengage will send students an ebook of the first chapter so that students don't fall behind while the book is on the way. This may seem like a small bonus but in the eyes of the professor, me, it's a big deal.

Too often students wait until the first day of class to order books online and end up holding up the entire class while they wait for a book to be shipped across the country via media mail.

In addition to the ebook, when the program goes live in December, students can visit to find audio, video and other extras to go along with their textbook rental.

Even though I got through school buying my textbooks used and selling them quickly, I wish there had been a rental option available when I was a student.

Sure, buying and selling a book might save you a few dollars over a rental but in most cases the hassles involved and the uncertainty of textbook prices make renting a far more student friendly option.