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The Top Five Websites for Renting Textbooks Online

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If you haven't checked the prices of college textbooks lately, you're probably in for quite a shock. For most students, one of the most expensive items on their university to-do list is simply purchasing the books they will need for their chosen classes. Not only are these books exorbitantly priced, they also command a very low exchange rate when returned at the end of the semester. What's a poor college student to do? Well, there are free online textbook sources, however, not every textbook in every single college class is necessarily offered there. Enter textbook rentals, a cheap Web alternative to the high price of college textbooks.

How does renting a textbook online work?

For the most part, Web textbook rentals work like this: you type in the name of your book or the ISBN number (the ISBN number is going to return you more accurate results since it's a unique identification number; this is preferred especially for different editions of textbooks that might have very similar names but different content), you pay a small fee (much less than the cost of purchasing the book), and then the book is either delivered to you via mail or you can read the book in your Web browser, a method that is quite convenient since you can usually transfer it to other devices such as your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.

If you search for "textbook rentals" on the Web, you'll come up with quite a few results. However, here are the top five that deliver the most consistent experiences according to user reviews and customer confidence.

Amazon

It's only logical that Amazon offers textbook rentals, simply because they are the world's largest and most popular online book retailer. Visit Amazon Textbook Rentals and you're presented with a wide variety of textbook categories, anything from Accounting to Visual Arts. The process is simple: find the books you need, take advantage of free shipping if you're a student (some restrictions apply), keep your book for a semester, and then ship it back free when you're done.

College Book Renter

College Book Renter does one thing and one thing only: provide textbooks to students at a nominal fee. Here's how CBR works: find the book you need, choose how long you need it (you can keep it longer than just a semester if you need to), and then make your purchase. Your book will arrive in the mail soon after. If you decide you'd rather purchase your book, you can do that too - and you can sell it back to CBR once you don't need it anymore.

Chegg

Chegg offers not only textbook rentals, but homework help, course planners, and buyback services. Renting a textbook here is easy: just type in the ISBN, figure out if you want a physical or e-copy of your book, and make your purchase. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your purchase, you have twenty-one days to return your book (fourteen days for an e-book).

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble has one of the more comprehensive textbook selections in this list, with very flexible rental periods extending up to 130 days. Both new and used textbooks are available to rent, and free shipping is offered to customers once they decide they no longer need their items. Categories from Algebra to Test Prep are available here.

Your university

Many colleges and universities are starting to recognize that students need more textbook use options, and are therefore offering textbook rentals on campus. A simple search using Google can help you find out if your university offers this service:

"textbook rentals" site:www.myuniversity.edu

Substitute the name of your college or university for "myuniversity.edu", and you'll be able to find out if this is an option for you. Need a more generalized search? Try textbook rentals site:edu to see what colleges offer a cheaper textbook alternative.

Many Web-based options for students

As the Web evolves, we'll see more options like this for college students, making the prospect of higher education a less expensive one. Whether you're at university for the first time or you're returning after many years in the professional field and you're looking to make a change, it's nice to know that you have options when making these potentially very expensive purchases.

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