Saturday, February 4, 2023 Review – Is it Really Cheaper?

If you thought that paying tuition was the worst part of college, think again—every year, the cost of textbooks hovers well over $1000 for most students! These study materials don’t come cheap; way too often do they take a huge chunk out of your wallet. What’s worse is that their prices are still continuing to increase every year. With a single book easily costing upwards of $200, you’re looking at a lot of money for all your university courses. However those figures typically assume that you’re purchasing them at their retail prices; for the cost-conscious student, there are actually many ways to save when it comes to textbooks.

What’s the easiest way to get cheaper textbooks? To buy them second-hand. If you’re lucky enough that the book you need isn’t a new edition (we all know what that’s like), you can typically find them used in most college bookstores or even on Craigslist. The typical price of a used textbook is significantly less than buying them new; if you’re buying it off of a previous student, heck you won’t even need to pay any taxes on them! However having said this, you can’t always get the books that you need second hand; sometimes it’s a new edition or publication that’s only just been released. What would you do then?

The answer to that is—textbook rentals. Yes, you can rent your college book, that’s a thing. While the idea may seem weird at first, it’s actually one that can save you hundreds of dollars; rentals are often much less expensive than buying a used copy. Also, you have a much greater selection when it comes to renting a textbook; retailers often have vast, inventory-filled warehouses—chances are, they’ll even have some of the most updated editions.

The process of textbook rentals is really quite simple; the way it works is that, you borrow the textbook from a retailer for a small price (usually a fraction of its retail), use it for your course and simply return it back to them after you’re done with it. This way, you get the books that you need, without having to shell out what comes out to be, thousands of dollars every year. As an added bonus, you don’t even have to worry about finding a new home for it after your final exams!

But where would you go about renting a textbook? With so many growing options out there, how do you know which one to go to? In this article, we’ll be talking about—one of the internet’s first textbook rental services.

An Overview of

bookrental4Originally launched in 2006 by former undergraduate student, Colin Barceloux, was the first company to offer the rental of textbooks online. While working as a mailman at the campus of Santa Clara University, Barceloux couldn’t help but notice the fact that the process of buying, using and eventual selling of books by students, resembled a very inefficient method of “book-renting.” With that in mind, he soon came up with the idea of creating an online textbook renting company. After graduating from university, he recruited Philippe Huibonhoa and Chris Williams, two computer engineer graduates, to help him with the designing of—and thus, the site was born.

Based in San Mateo, California, the company currently services university students from over 5000 campuses in the United States. Since their inception, they have helped students across the nation save over $700 million altogether! Throughout the years, has served thousands of customers and has even won a handful of awards including an Interactive Media Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Ecommerce” back in 2008. More recently in 2012, the company was also the recipient of’s Reader Choice Award for “Best Site for Renting Textbooks.”

Striving to provide students with an affordable college education, has over 5,000,000 textbooks in their inventory. If you’re looking for a title, chances are, they will have it!

While they focus mainly on rentals (thus the name), is also a textbook retailer that sells books. If you’re interested in purchasing a title, you’ll be happy to know that their prices (both for used and new copies) are some of the lowest that you can find online. Offering students the most flexible options, you don’t have to worry about not getting the bang for your buck.

Want to hear what some of’s students have to say about their services? Read their testimonials on the “Customer Quotes” page!

How do I Rent a Book from

bookrental3Renting a book from them is easy peasy! After loading their website on your browser, the first thing that you want to do is search for the textbook that you want by its title, ISBN or author; enter the information into the search bar at the center of the page and press “Find Books.” While you’re typing, a list of suggested items will also be popping up underneath; if you see the one that you’re after on there, you can click the title to go to its detailed page. Assuming that you’ve clicked the “Find Books” button, you will be brought to a page of results—the one matching closest to your search parameters should be shown at the top.

Before you even click into the book’s page, you’ll notice that the rental price is displayed towards the right, as well as its list price. Once you’re on the “Product Details” page, you will be able to see a more detailed breakdown of the textbook’s rental fees, as well as the amount you’ll be saving. After confirming that it is indeed the book that you’d like, go ahead and click “Add to Cart” to proceed to the next step. Also, don’t forget to select your preferred rental period out of the five given choices!

If you’d like to add more textbooks to your order (which is advised as you get free shipping with orders over $50), you can do so by hitting the back button on your browser. Otherwise if you’d like to continue, press the “Checkout” button.

Afterwards, you’ll be prompted to either sign up for an account or login; enter your login information (or create an account) in order to continue the process and pay for your items. Payment is done securely via Paypal or Credit Card. Once your order is made, it will take 1-2 business days for processing, after which your textbooks will be shipped from their warehouse. On average, it will take approximately 3-7 business days for the books to arrive at your doorstep (for the standard shipping option). If you’d like to get them sooner, you can opt for express shipping for an added fee.

Understanding of the fact that different individuals learn differently, is also open to students highlighting and taking notes in their books. Who knows? Maybe your textbook will even come with the highlighting already done for you!

How do I Return a Book After I’m Done With It?

bookrenter2This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions on the site. To go about it, you’ll want to login to your account and access the “Return Items” page from your dashboard. Upon doing so, you’ll be presented with your list of books; check off the ones that you’d like to return and press the “Start Return” button.

Next, you’ll want to choose your preferred carrier; by default, Bookrenter uses UPS. After confirming the return, click “Generate UPS Label” to get your free pre-paid return label and packaging slip. From there, all you have to do, is put your textbooks in a box (any box would do), put the label on the outside of the box, the packaging slip inside the box and take it to your local UPS store for shipping (avoid using drop boxes as they may not be checked regularly).

If you ever decide that you either want to extend the period of the rental, you can do so by going to the “Extension/Buyouts” page under “My Account.” Depending on when your textbook was originally ordered, you will be able to extend the rental anywhere from 7 to 90 days. Alternatively, if you want to keep the textbook permanently, you can opt for the buyout option; don’t worry—if you choose this option, the rental fee that you’d paid previously will go towards the buyout price of the book.

Bookrenter’s Competitive Pricing

With, you can save up to 90% on your textbooks just by renting them! Dedicated to offering students the best value for their money, all of the titles listed on the site are guaranteed to have the most competitive prices on the textbook market. On average, the rental fee for a book is less than a quarter of the retail price; it’s not uncommon for students to save upwards of $200 for each textbook that they rent! If you’re renting multiple items, the savings add up quick; soon you’ll be wondering whether or not to share your textbook renting secrets with your friends!

If you’re curious about the answer to that, the answer is yes! In fact, for every friend that you invite and refer to, you can get upwards of $200 for your next rental—nothing beats some extra cash to spend on textbooks! But wait, the benefits don’t end there; your friends will also be getting 5% off their orders as one of your referrals! That way, it’s a win-win situation.

Bookrenter’s 21 day Return Policy

bookrenter5Change your mind about a book? Or perhaps you dropped one of your classes? No problem—with, you can easily get a full refund within 21 days of your original purchase. The easiest, and fastest way of getting your money back is by using their prepaid return labels (you do NOT need to pay shipping to refund the textbooks). Just be sure that the package will be in-transit, within 21 days of the original order date and you’re golden!

To print out said labels, sign-in to your account and go to “My Rentals”; from there, you’ll want to click the option that says “Need to request a refund for any of these” on the top right hand corner. After printing it out (remember to double check that they are in fact, the refund labels, and not the standard return labels!), place your textbook(s) in a box with the return label on it, and take it back to your selected postal office. Once the items have been received back at the warehouse, you will be notified via email; depending on your bank, it may take anywhere from 1-10 business days for the funds to return back into your bank account.

If you happen to live close to one of’s store locations (check their main site for a list), you can also get a refund for your order by bringing the books in to the store and using the RapidReturn system.

Bookrenter’s Friendly Customer Service and Support Team 

While the support team over at will always be happy to help and assist, you may wish to look through their Help Center first to check whether or not your question has already been asked by an earlier user. You can go to the Help Center at any time by clicking on “Help” at the top right corner of the main site.

Should you ever encounter any issues or questions, know that you can contact’s top-notch customer service team in a number of ways. The simplest and foremost method is by using their online live chat—through it, you will be able to talk one-on-one with a member of their support team. Accessible both on desktop and mobile, the online chat is the way to go if you’re looking for some quick answers. This service is available Mondays to Fridays from 8:00am to 5:00 PST.

Another way to get in touch with their customer support is by sending them a friendly email. You can do so easily and conveniently via their online contact form (accessible from the “Contact Us” page). Simply leave your name, email address, as well as a brief description of your inquiry and their staff will get back to you within 48 hours. Emailing is a good choice if you’re caught with an issue on the weekend, with no one to talk to on live chat. By sending them a message, the staff will be able to read and tackle the issue as soon as they are in the office the next working day.

If you’re more of a talk-on-the-phone type of person, you can also give them call at 650-288-3500. Similar to their online chat, their phones will be staffed on weekdays from 8:00am until 5:00PST.

Alternately, if you’re socially inclined you can also connect with on social media. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter under the handle, “bookrenter.”

Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.


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