Many major bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon offer college textbook rentals. Students are able to rent books for up to 130 days through Barnes & Noble and can extend their rental period or purchase the book. Amazon also gives students the option of purchasing the book.
Websites like Bookrenter or College Book Renter are exclusively devoted to textbook rentals.
College and university bookstores are increasingly offering textbook rental programs of their own to compete with these websites. As of 2013, there were 3,000 such programs at educational institutions across the United States. The cost of renting a textbook for a semester is typically 45 to 66 percent less than the full purchase price.
One of the requirements of renting a textbook is that students cannot write or highlight in the book. If students return a book that is no longer in acceptable rental condition, they are charged the full purchase price. There are also late fees if the book is not returned by a certain date. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble send students reminders as the return date approaches.
States are also developing open educational resources programs that publish textbooks online under a license allowing their free and open use. Many professors, especially those who teach classes with large enrollments, are starting to incorporate OER into their syllabuses in order to help save their students money.