Don’t buy your textbooks. Rent them. - Macleans.ca

Don’t buy your textbooks. Rent them.

UToronto bookstore launches textbook rental pilot project

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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