Saturday, April 27, 2013

Why Renting is Better Than Owning

I don't know how it works everywhere, but I've been to two colleges (a community college and FSUPC) and they basically both had the same book buying then selling back cycle. You'd go to the bookstore and buy say, a financial accounting book for $255. Maybe if you were lucky you could get a used copy and save $50. Then at the end of the semester you would try to sell it back, only to find out they already bought back as many as they need. Or maybe a new edition came out with all the hip new accounting information. Or maybe the professor decided they didn't like that book and are using a completely different one next semester. For whatever reason you are now the proud owner of a $255 door stop. If you're really lucky, they might buy it back for a whole $25!

My last job before I decided my endo was too bad was actually at FSUPC's book store. While there they implemented something called text book rental. I used it a couple times and I thought it was wonderful! I'd definitely recommend it. I like to think of it as a guaranteed buy back, only you get the money at the beginning of the semester instead of the end. Rather than paying $255 and hoping to get $25 back for a net cost of $230, you can rent it for $28* (free shipping both ways). That's like selling it back for $227 which is just not going to happen. You won't even get that much if you sell it on Craigslist or eBay. 

Plus keep in mind renting textbooks is not like renting a car where you have to return it in the same condition you found it. Usually the standard for returning books is about the same as selling them back. Highlighting, underlining, and normal wear and tear are fine. Just no missing pages or water damage or things like that. If damage does occur or it's lost or stolen you can buy the book for the difference of what you paid and the retail price. So basically it's like you bought the book and couldn't sell it back. If you rent from you can actually add a type of insurance for 25% of the rental cost ($7 for the accounting book) which protects you from having to pay full price. In fact if it's damaged, lost, or stolen in the middle of the semester they will send you a new copy! This is something FSU's program didn't offer. The school I may be attending in the fall doesn't seem to have a book rental program of it's own, but that's okay because CampusBookRentals seems like it might be a better option anyway.

Another thing they offer but FSU didn't is something called RentBack. Basically if you own any textbooks that are in demand, they can rent them out for you rather than getting the measly buy back price from your campus book store. There are a lot of books DH and I have kept because we couldn't sell back (or the offer was absurdly low) so I am going to look through them and see if we can't put them to work for us. Each time they rent out your book you get 100% of the rental cost, minus the $19 it takes to ship, process, etc. The company does make $1.80 off your book but that's nothing really. Each book has a rentability factor represented by one to five stars as well as an estimated life span and current profit listed for you to consider before sending in any books. It's really quite neat!

One thing I really admire about this company is their partnership with Operation Smile, a charity that provides surgeries for children born with cleft lip or palate. From their website: "Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft. One in 10 of those children will die before their first birthday. The children who survive are often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile. In some places, they are shunned and rejected. And in too many cases, their parents can't afford to give them the surgeries they need to live a productive life." How can you look at those precious before and after photos and not want to help them? CampusBookRentals has pledged enough to cover at least 1,000 life saving surgeries per year. Each time a text book is rented a portion of the proceeds is donated. Not only do you get to save money, but you get to help change a child's life.

*Price subject to change, all amounts are indicative of price at time of writing.

Disclosure: Compensation for this post was provided by CampusBookRentals. As a former college student and book store employee, the opinions are my own. 

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