While working full-time, I am also taking online classes to get a Masters degree in Managing Information Systems. It’s a slow going process when you take 1-2 classes a semester. It’s worked out well but it feels like it’s starting to drag on. I extended the process from just the intention of getting a Graduate Certificate in Project Management to the full MIS Masters; my task went from 9 credits to 36. Going for the Masters introduced two prerequisite classes I needed to take, so 7 additional credits along with the GRE (which was more of a logistics hurdle than anything – testing center 2 hours away with only one testing opportunity before a half-price special expired less than a week from when I found out I needed to take the test). I sped up the process by taking two classes a semester instead of just one like I was.
One good thing about only having two classes a semester is that the days of going to the bookstore and spending $600 are gone. The books I have used so far have seemed better priced. Between Amazon and only two classes, I haven’t had to spend too much on books. It’s still a silly process though. One that led me to crunch the numbers each semester. Do I buy the textbook new or used? Hard copy or Kindle?
Buying for the Kindle is typically a bit cheaper. It’s a more portable format but the layout doesn’t always work well for technical texts. The downside of buying the Kindle version is that you can’t sell back the book, which can actually reduce the price of the hard copy below the cost of the Kindle version.
This past Summer semester, one of my texts was available on the Kindle but in a rentable format. I was able to rent the text for the 8 weeks of the semester and it auto-expired the day after the semester ended. It worked out great and the pro-rated pricing was a nice feature. The only drawback was that it only worked on Kindle for PC, not the Kindle that I have.
I have a couple weeks before the Fall semester starts but I was looking at next semesters textbooks to see what it will cost me and what the books are. Unfortunately, the semester is one of the pricier semesters and neither of the books are available on Kindle. As I was looking though, one of the textbooks was available for rent. Over the new book, it would save me $82. Over buying the book used, it would save me $65 dollars. My other needed textbook wasn’t listed as being rentable and, of course, it was the more expensive of the two.
Then, at the beginning of this week, Amazon announced the launch of its textbook rental program. Checking the other textbook, it was now available for rent as well. Renting it will save me $111 over buying new and $88 over buying used. I don’t think I would have received that much money back if I bought the books and sold them back to Amazon. That has worked out fairly well for me and saved money over time but renting the texts will save even more time and there’s no risk that the textbook won’t be bought back due to having too many or condition of the book.
Buying both books used would have cost me $266.92 this semester. Renting books this semester through Amazon will cost me $113, a savings of 57%.This is a little bit of good news for the upcoming semester since the books don’t have that great of reviews on their Amazon listings but I don’t have much choice in what books the instructors choose.