A University of Mississippi student is renting a chemistry textbook for $9.99 this fall rather than buying the book for $157.95. Another student from the University of South Alabama saved $172 by renting a business law book. Thousands of college students have turned to textbook-rental web sites to save hundreds during the economic downturn.
Web sites Chegg.com and BookRenter.com offer college books for up to four months, and students can search for books by title, author, or ISBN. A site called Dontbuytextbooks.com has surfaced in recent weeks, and the homepage promises to offer free textbook downloads for "starving students…sick and tired of paying way too much for college textbooks."
Higher-education officials and representatives of book rental companies said the rental industry has boomed over the past year, as students and their families have been affected by the recession. But experts said book-rental companies would not lose customers in a recovered economy, because college students are strapped for cash in any era.