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MythBreakers Presents: The Hidden Costs of Renting Textbooks

Jan 26 2010 at 7:57 pm by

Textbook rental companies charge additional fees for late returns, lost or stolen books and damaged books. You can even end up paying more money than the list price for a book that is lost or stolen during the rental period!

This is the second post in a series we are calling MythBreakers, where we dispel common myths about textbooks and other issues that plague college students. We are on a mission in 2010 to make sure that you have access to the cheapest textbooks possible in order to defer other rising education expenses. Our previous post, MythBreakes Presents: Is Renting Cheaper Than Buying? showed that students save more by buying a used textbook and selling it back at the end of the semester at than renting it. In this post, we are revealing some of the hidden costs of renting textbooks. These costs are the additional costs you would incur if you forgot to return your book on time, it was lost or stolen, or if the rental company considers your book damaged at the end of the rental.

If your textbook is not received by the rental company by the return date, you will automatically be charged an extension fee. The extension fees range from about 25% of the rental price, all the way through 20% of the list price. The extension ranges from 7-15 days extra. For the books we tracked, the extension fee ranged from about $3.50 to $36.16, depending on the rental company and the textbook.

What happens if your book is returned after the extension period, or is lost or stolen during the semester? You will be charged a replacement fee, a hefty replacement fee at that. The cost of the replacement fee is about the list price of the book. For our research, the replacement fee ranged from $52.86- $165.80. Keep in mind that the list price is much higher than the rental price. For our research, the average list price was $128.19.

How about damaged books? A damage fee is assessed depending on the extent of the damage, and whether or not insurance was purchased on the book. Please see the expanded data below.

Hidden Cost of Renting Image

To be sure that you won’t be hit with any unexpected costs, purchase a used textbook from a marketplace such as You can own the book for much less, and never have to worry about being charged additional fees. Even better, since you own the book, you have the right to sell it! You can participate in our sell back program or register to become a marketplace seller and set your own price! If you have any questions about buying and selling at, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Do you have any other myths you would like us to explore?

* Buy and Sell prices are based on available pricing on 1/28/2010 at 10:00 AM. All prices are subject to change at any time based on the actions of marketplace buyers and sellers. Renting prices are based on the average prices for available book rentals at 10:00 AM on 1/28/2010 from,, and Rental prices are based on the duration of one semester. All prices are subject to change at any time.

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  1. This is so true. I’m not very fond of renting textbooks because then you have the responsibility to make sure the books are clean and get back when they are supposed too. I would rather buying cheap used one and then resell them and get like 60-90% back and not worry about anything.

  2. One of many greatest difficulties when teaching math is
    going all the kids in a class forwards, when a number of the children are stuck on issues of algebra.

  3. how damaged is damaged?