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How to Lease College Textbooks Online

by Maya Black, studioD

Whether you're a traditional student or an adult learner, enrolling in college marks a significant turning point in your learning life. However, the opportunity for intellectual growth comes at a price; high tuition costs may obligate you to apply for scholarships or borrow money. Further, you'll need textbooks on which students spend close to $700 annually, according to a 2013 article published in "The Atlantic." Leasing textbooks, rather than buying them, can save you between 50 and 80 percent off a textbook's cover price although how much you save depends on the vendor you use.

Open an account on the website of your preferred online textbook vendor. Enter information including your name, mailing address and billing information. Textbook sellers such as Barnes and Noble, CourseSmart and Amazon.com lease textbooks for as few as 21 days or the length of an academic quarter or semester. Your campus bookstore also may lease textbooks on its e-commerce site.

Browse your textbook vendor's catalog to find the books you wish to lease. Search the online catalog by author name, textbook title or ISBN. A local vendor, such as your college's online bookstore, may have textbooks listed by course number or instructor.

Add the textbook to your online shopping cart. Select the option indicating you wish to lease, rather than buy, the textbook. Select the number of days you wish to lease the book.

Pay for your leased textbooks and the shipping fee with a personal credit card. You'll have to use a credit card even if you're expecting financial aid or have received the funds in your personal bank account. Once you've finished using leased textbooks, whether you'll pay a return shipping fee, which varies among vendors.


  • Know your textbook vendor's return policy, especially if you think you might drop the course. Most vendors allow you to rent the book for an introductory period time, for example 21 days, and return it without penalty.
  • Make searching for used textbooks -- on classified ad websites and online bookstores -- part of your quest to save money. You might find that some textbooks, especially paperback ones, are cheaper to buy used.
  • If you have an e-reader, you can save even more money by leasing the e-book version of your textbook if available.


  • The vendor will charge you the full price if you damage or lose the textbook.

About the Author

Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.

Photo Credits

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