College Students Provide an Economics Lesson in Textbook Purchases: Renting Pays

Share Article

Online Textbook Retailer Says Students Shun Buying New Textbooks, As Rentals Surge 2,000% In Past Two Years

“Textbooks remain a major expense for college students, and that’s why they’re excited about a concept that provides the exact same product, but at a substantial cost savings.”

If there is a cheaper way to do something, cash-strapped college students will find a way to do it. And with the most recent textbook sales period now in the books, it’s clear that today’s co-eds have taken “new” textbooks off their list, opting to rent rather than buy.

According to, one of the pioneers of online textbook retailing, nearly one in five of all college textbook purchases online today is a rental. Two years ago, online textbook rentals accounted for just 1 percent of all sales.

Retail textbook sales represent an $11 billion annual industry, with approximately 25 percent of all sales conducted online. When textbook rental started to become a viable option for students to obtain their course materials, found itself uniquely positioned to add textbook rental to their product offering as well as begin to supply most of the other online rental companies with textbooks to fulfill their orders. The decision has yielded incredible growth.

As more students turn to rentals, the purchase of new textbooks is plummeting. Sales of new textbooks have dropped from 71 percent of all purchases four years ago to slightly more than 40 percent today, according to The purchase of used textbooks has grown steady over the past three years, from 29 percent of all sales in 2009 to more than two-thirds (37 percent) today.

“The rise in textbook rentals has been phenomenal these past three years, mainly because students see the economic advantage to renting something that they will only use for less than four months,” said Matt Montgomery, CEO of “Textbooks remain a major expense for college students, and that’s why they’re excited about a concept that provides the exact same product, but at a substantial cost savings.” estimates that textbook rentals typically are priced at 60-70 percent off of the bookstore retail price. Used textbooks typically are priced at 35 percent off the retail price of a new textbook.

“We’re also finding that textbook rentals appeal to students because it alleviates the hassle of getting stuck with a textbook that has a new edition, and there is great flexibility with rentals in terms of extending the rental period, or even opting to purchase the book if they decide to,” said Montgomery. “Online retailers have a big advantage over bookstores when it comes to renting, as most local players don’t have the inventory or geographical reach to make it profitable to offer textbook rentals.”

“Renting online is the ideal set up for today’s college students. It’s easier, faster, cheaper and it’s delivered straight to their door. Purchasing textbooks is not something that every college kid enjoys doing, but there are ways to make it a lot less painful, and much more attractive,” said Montgomery.

Since its founding in July of 1999, has grown into a major online retailer providing cheap textbooks for college and high school students.’s stated mission is to provide the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way for college and university students to rent textbooks, buy textbooks and sell textbooks. believes the Internet buying experience should be fun and that shopping for textbooks should be as fast and convenient as possible. The company makes a personal commitment to every customer that will be the best source for everything they need.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Matt Taylor
(859) 514-6810
Email >
Visit website