Don’t buy your textbooks. Rent them. -

Don’t buy your textbooks. Rent them.

UToronto bookstore launches textbook rental pilot project


I remember ordering my textbooks for the first time, way back in first year. It seemed like such a novelty, peeling the plastic wrap off a bunch of brand-new books.

Unlike high school textbooks, there weren’t any ripped pages, scribbled notes or suspicious stains. The covers weren’t handled by eighteen generation’s worth of fingies. Nobody had breathed on the pages with their unbrushed teeth (germaphobes think about these kinds of things).

They were mine. Mine.

Hundreds of dollars and a semester later, the novelty had vanished. The problem is, the life span of most textbooks is a single semester. When you’re done with the course, you’re done with the book. Heck, I felt like I was getting away with something when I got to use my Organic Chemistry textbook two semesters in a row.

Even if you buy the books second hand, from another student or your campus bookstore, it’s still expensive enough for a one-shot kind of deal.

But the University of Toronto bookstore might have a solution. This summer semester, the uToronto bookstore is launching a textbook rental pilot project. After ordering the books online, students pick them up in the store, renting the books for about 40 per cent off the new purchase price.

A similar plan was piloted at the University of Manitoba last semester.

According to the uToronto Bookstore’s website, five titles will be available for the pilot program. The textbook rentals are then returned on a pre-determined Rental Return date. Students are even allowed to highlight and write notes in their rental books. Cool.

Another option is to buy an older edition of a textbook. The changes between editions are usually minimal, and you can save some serious money. The only problem is, even minimal changes can sometimes complicate things. I bought an older edition of my genetics textbook during my second semester. When the professor told the class to read between pages 145 and 192 for the first week, and that the midterm would focus on material from pages 163 and 267, I suddenly realized something: the page numbers between editions weren’t equivalent.

A couple classes I took last semester didn’t even have required texts. Instead, students just accessed a website and printed off course notes.

Meaning, there’s something even better than a rental textbook. No textbook.

-photo courtesy of Evil Erin


Don’t buy your textbooks. Rent them.

  1. Sounds like a great program! I wish all universities would implement this system. This year alone I had to buy 39 textbooks and it was quite the budget buster!

  2. Most schools have book rental programs. Only they’re included in your tuition fees. They’re called libraries.

  3. What an awesome system! Hopefully the rest of the Universities will get on board.

  4. What a great idea! On so many levels. Not only will it save trees, it will also save room in graduates closets. I have been out of university for 3 years now and haven’t touched a single textbook from school. Way to go U of T…..definately a step in the right direction.

    At least, as long as the rental charges aren’t absurd :)

  5. Pingback: Buy a Nook, Amazon Kindle, or Sony Reader? | New Ebook

  6. I think its useless, They say your saving 40% with renting, subtracting the 12% HST, technically we are only saving 28%. I think we could make more than 50% of the text book value back if we try to resell the text book, after buying it. Think about it renting for $111 and giving it back or buying it for $164 then reselling it for 140 [possibly]. Buying it seem reasonable to me. They don’t care about decreasing txt book cost, they want more money without actually selling the textbooks.

    Canada should implement free post secondary education like Sweden and other european countries.

  7. :`, that seems to be a great topic, i really love it :~~