I can’t believe how expensive textbooks are. American’s don’t realize that Canadians, on average, pay 20-30% more for everything, including textbooks, than they do. This is a primary driver behind our desire to participate in cross border shopping. As a result, that $150 dollar book ends up costing around $200 north of the border! Outrageous.
Back when I was in school in the mid/late 90s, I was spending $700 per year for textbooks – about $350 per semester. That was for 5 courses, so about $70 per semester textbook and upward of $150 for a full year text book. Since I got a Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology, I often had 15 or more books in a year. Given inflation, I can imagine that students are spending over $1,000 per year on textbooks, especially if you are in a major, like science, where books are so expensive.
How Textbook Rental Saves Money
I wish I had textbook rental when I was in school. Since I only used my book for one class, then sold it back (at 20% of the purchase price, if I was lucky). it would have been so much more beneficial if I could rent my books instead. Now, companies like eCampus are renting them out for the quarter, and providing savings in the process. The campus book store sure had quite a racket set up: sell over priced books, buy them back at a steep discount and then re-sell them for a tidy profit. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I was checking out eCampus to find used books online, and I was in shock by the savings I saw for renting textbooks. For many books, the savings for renting was maybe 50% of the cost of a new book, and 30% less than even a used book. That is some great savings. For example, there was is a Principles of Physics textbook, pretty standard, that sells for $214 new and $150 used. It rents for $54 for the semester (even cheaper if you rent for the quarter). Huge savings!
Another great feature is that shipping is free both ways on orders over $59. They send you the book, and provide you a shipping label to send it back at the end of the semester. This will save you a lot of money if you order many books at once. I know I used to buy my textbooks all at once so this is a feature I would definitely take advantage of.
Finally, many books are now coming out in eTextbook, which offer even more savings. You can save 90% compared to the cost of a new textbook. If I had this while I was in school, I would have been paying $70 per year instead of $700 – very worth it in my opinion.