Rent or buy? The ins and outs of textbook shopping

<p>As the semester begins, many students ask whether it is better to rent or buy textbooks. T.I.S College Bookstore is located in the village and is a common place for students to buy and rent new and used textbooks. <em>DN FILE PHOTO SAMANTHA BRAMMER</em></p>

As the semester begins, many students ask whether it is better to rent or buy textbooks. T.I.S College Bookstore is located in the village and is a common place for students to buy and rent new and used textbooks. DN FILE PHOTO SAMANTHA BRAMMER


As students prepare for the upcoming semester, one age-old question hangs over many heads — is it better to rent or buy textbooks?

The estimated yearly books-and-supplies costs for the average full-time undergraduate student at a four-year public college is about $1,298, according to collegeboard.org, but buying used or renting textbooks can lower these costs.

Research from the National Association of College Stores said purchases are still the top choice, but rentals are gaining in popularity thanks to the lower prices. The association also said more than a third of students last year rented at least one textbook from a campus bookstore or from online options like Amazon to save money.

As with all purchases, research can be helpful when shopping for textbooks. To limit costs while searching for books this semester, browse some of the options for renting and buying new and used texts around Ball State University and online.

Note: Prices below vary based on rental and buying options. Visit each store's website for more information.

T.I.S. College Bookstore

Located in the heart of the village, Ball State University T.I.S. College Bookstore boasts the largest collection of used textbooks, Ball State clothing and related collegiate accessories. For those who want to save time and avoid the store, T.I.S. also offers a $9.99 flat rate shipping for textbooks, and $4.99 for all other items when ordered online or over the phone.

Price check:

"Everything's An Argument" by Andrea Lunsford (ENG 103): $24.25 - $54.25

"Thinking Mathematically" by Robert Blitzer (MATH 125): $144.75 - $152.50

"The Iliad" by Homer (various): $8.50 - $19.00

Ball State University Official Bookstore

Ball State's bookstore is similar to T.I.S, offering a wide variety of new and used textbooks, as well as digital access codes and rental options. The bookstore website also offers an easy-to-use textbook finder that notifies users of all the required textbooks for their specific class sections.

Price check:

"Everything's An Argument" by Andrea Lunsford (ENG 103): $54.40

"Thinking Mathematically" by Robert Blitzer (MATH 125): $80.25 - $152.50

"The Iliad" by Homer (various): $8.55 - $19.00

White Rabbit Used Books

Located in the village, White Rabbit Used Books is known for its wide selection of literature and used books. White Rabbit doesn't carry class specific textbooks, but they do carry many books classes require students to read.

Price check:

"Everything's An Argument" by Andrea Lunsford (ENG 103): Not Available

"Thinking Mathematically" by Robert Blitzer (MATH 125): Not Available

The Iliad by Homer (various): $3.44

Amazon

Amazon.com sells practically everything one could imagine, including textbooks. Because Amazon is less specific to Ball State, it can be difficult to get the harder-to-find textbooks. Amazon's shipping varies with what is being purchased; however, Amazon Prime members pay just $10.99 and get free shipping year-round.

Price check:

"Everything's An Argument" by Andrea Lunsford (ENG 103): $15.99 - $21.79

"Thinking Mathematically" by Robert Blitzer (MATH 125): $17.01 - $192.93

"The Iliad" by Homer (various): $6.04 - $13.01

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