Thinking outside the box is something art students do well, so in that spirit today we’re going to talk about alternatives for getting your textbooks.
Renting Digital Textbooks
Amazon, Coursesmart, Barnes and Noble, and other sites have made a number of textbooks available in a digital format. Aside from flat-out selling books digitally, they provide another option which allows you to rent an e-book version of their available textbooks. The way this works is, you purchase and download the textbook to your preferred e-reader. This download comes with a unique DRM that expires after a certain amount of days. Upon expiring, the e-book is deleted from the reader (similar to how you’d rent movies through Amazon Instant Video or iTunes). If you look, you can find many services that provide a similar feature like Google Play or even your local library (many of which have started using this type of service to lend books).
Now, this is all fine and dandy for those who like or can stand digital books, but what about those that still prefer printed material?
Renting Old-School Textbooks
Many services lend out physical books with a time limit on how long you can have it, similar to borrowing from a library. The only main difference is the rental fee and that the book is shipped to you and when you’re finished you have to ship it back to the company. So basically, it’s like a mail-order library. The good thing is you get pre-paid postage so shipping the book back doesn’t cost anything.
Many of these service also offer their books through a couple of rental plans. These plans tell you how long you can keep a book for example 60, 90, or 125+ days. Since SCAD runs on a trimester (a.k.a quarter) schedule, being able to rent a book for fewer days is an advantage. Storefronts like textbookrentals.com allow you to compare and contrast a wide array of online rental services’ prices and options.
Among the many sites out there that provide physical book rentals are Ebay’s Half.com, Barnes & Nobles, also Amazon. In addition to these main online retailers, some lesser-known sites are Book Renter or even online used book sites like Abe Books.
The point being, there are plenty of alternatives for acquiring your text books if you just look hard enough. Honestly though, I’ve found more success in buying them cheaper used, sometimes the rental program end up more expensive. Just remember to thoroughly look at all your options before you buy. Also, make sure to take into account the time from when you purchase the book to the time your classes begin. There’s nothing as bad as getting your text book a week late due to slow shipping.