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Returning Textbook Rentals During COVID-19

By Ashley Paskill

Many students opt to rent textbooks to save money, especially if they do not plan on keeping the books they are renting. This option requires that students return the book, often by a specific date, or a fee will be applied to your account. However, because of COVID-19, many colleges and universities are closed, making it difficult for students to return textbooks they rented from the bookstore. If you are impacted by this, there are things you should know to help ensure you return your textbook properly.

Due dates

A big part of renting the textbook is returning your textbook on time. For students who rented their textbooks from websites such as Textsurf, Chegg, or Amazon, it is easy to just mail the textbook(s) back before the due date. However, things become more complicated if you purchased the textbooks from your campus bookstore and your campus is closed. Your college or university likely has specific instructions for how to return your textbooks, including pushing the due date back without charging a late fee. Just be sure to make note of the new due date and mail your textbook(s) back as soon as you can. If you are unsure, contact the store(s) where you got the books from.

The process

Again, each campus will have its own method of dealing with textbook rentals. If you have not received any type of guidance, check your online book account or get in contact with the bookstore to find out what to do.

Some campuses and bookstores giving instructions for how and where to mail the textbooks back. While the process will be different for each college/university, students should have an online portal where they access their book information. In many cases, there should be an option to print a packing label, which is prepaid in most situations. This eases the burden of having to pay for shipping the book. The stores may want you to print out a slip of paper that has your information on it to make sure you do not get in trouble for not returning a book that you did.

Another option some schools are giving students is the opportunity to just buy the book. While this may not seem like the most ideal situation, especially if the book is not one you wanted to keep, there are other ways to get rid of it. You can sell it to buy-back companies or on social media. These methods will not get you a ton of money, but you will get something back. If you are not truly worried about the money aspect of the books at this point, you may opt to donate the book to a library or campus organization the is working to help students in need get the resources they need to make it through college.

Other campuses are offering contactless drop-off boxes on campus or near the store, which helps limit your exposure to the virus. Check to see what options are available to you and choose the one that is best for you. If you have not received any guidance, check your textbook website or get in touch with the bookstore you got the books from.

Stay on top of things

Like everything else going on with COVID-19, things are very much subject to change, especially when it comes to textbook returns. It is important to check your emails regularly for updates about returning textbooks and how and when to do so.

No matter what your campus wants you to do to return your textbook rental, it is important that you stay on top of the process, from where your books are from to new due dates. As soon as you are aware of how to return your book(s), make it a point to return them that day or the next so you can get the book(s) returned in a timely manner. Be sure you pay attention to what you have to do, whether it means mailing the books or returning them in person. If you are unsure or have any questions about the processes in place, get in touch with the store, and have them be in touch with you through the steps. This will ensure that you do things correctly and in a timely manner.

Moving forward

If you are taking classes over the summer or in the fall, consider buying or renting the books from an online source, which will allow you to avoid the massive amount of people at the bookstore and give you an easier option for returning your books. You may even consider buying or renting the e-book version of your textbooks if they are available. Some stores, such as Barnes and Noble, are no longer doing textbook rentals but are still accepting current rental returns. Some campus bookstores are giving students access to free e-books.

These are challenging times, but staying informed can help you navigate everything going on, especially when it comes to returning rented textbooks.