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How Much Can I Save in Renting Versus Buying My Law School Books!?

Recently students have asked FindMyLawTutor.com should I rent or buy my law school books?


New law school students wonder should I rent or buy my law school books?

New law school students wonder should I rent or buy my law school books?



Law school can certainly be expensive and this is a valid question.  Students can run up bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars very quickly and students should keep costs down as much as possible while they are in law school.  While you may think that a couple hundred dollars is not going to amount to much – in time and with interest – the amount is going to accumulate.

So let’s take, for example, a first year class.  First year 1Ls are going to have a bevy of classes but most commonly your classes are going to include:  Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, and Constitutional Law.

So how much are these books going to costs?  Some common costs for law school books are (these are just some estimates for new books):  Torts: $108.99, Contracts $77.99, Civil Procedure $193.20, Criminal Law $175.99, Constitutional Law $127.49.  So the grand total is only a mere $683.66 for five common law school books that are new.

Law students commonly also buy supplemental materials in law school.  A hornbook (a book that summarizes the law) is around $36 for one book.  Just remember you will also be buying supplemental books over the long haul.

So how much can you save in renting versus buying your law school books?  Let’s take the cost of Erwin Chemerinsky’s Constitutional Law Book on Textbook.com.  This book has four prices:  Used is $135, New is $196.56, Rental is $38.49, and e-textbook is $234.  This makes a huge difference in cost difference from the price of a rental to a new book (about $150 dollars’ worth for ONE book!).  With all the textbooks and other supplements you will buy this can make a huge difference in the costs of your legal books.  With the five book example given above the cost of renting your books can be approximately (again these are estimates):  (Torts $25.49, Contracts $33.99, Civil Procedure $21.99, Criminal Law $38.99, Constitutional Law $43.99).  So the grand total is $164.45 for book rentals (a savings of $519.21 for just five law school books!).  Add in a business law book at cost differences of $185.99 for a new book and $52.49 for a book rental and you can add another cost savings of around $133 dollars!!!! So with savings that will quickly accumulate in the thousands we have to wonder…. Should you rent or buy your law school books?


Well, here are three things to consider when choosing to rent versus buying your legal books:
Are You an Active Reader? 

This is a big con against getting a book rental.  If you highlight and are an active reader then a used book may already have highlighted material and will be a little hard to be an active reader.  Used textbooks will have light highlighting and will allow light highlighting but it cannot be excessive.  This is hard and some book companies do not really have a hard line on this.  This may cause you problems later on and you may end up just having to pay for the book anyway.


Consider Buying and Then Reselling Your Books: 

If for example you buy one of our book examples a Business Law book new at $185.99 – you can sell it back for approximately $108 dollars.  That means that you are only paying about $77 for your book (consider the cost saving for the book rental and this will be about $133 versus $77 in cost).  That way you may highlight in your own book and you just have to pay around $60 more on average for a book then for a book rental.  You’ll save about a couple hundred per semester and it may be less hassle.  Remember that you have a book due date return date for book rentals.  If you would like to resell your books just remember that you do not want to highlight excessively. 

Many times students say that the cost of buying and then reselling your used books on average is approximately the same cost.


Are you Going to Want to Keep This Book?

In speaking with law school students some students wondered “but I may want to keep this book?”  The most commonly answered answer to this question is – no you are not going to keep 99% of your legal textbooks (unless you want to decorate your office).  You may want to consider keeping a hornbook or summary book on the law but you will most likely not keep your legal textbooks (they’re just too heavy!).  If you need to look up law later on you are most often going to look up the case online or look in a summary legal book.


Hope this helps in saving you money and if you have any helpful tips or comments on this article email us at contact@findmylawtutor.com!  Good luck this semester!



If you Do Decide to Rent Your Books Here are a couple online book rental locations: you can check out www.textbooks.com and of course amazon.com!  Remember to always buy early as textbooks can run out of stock!  


This article was written by FindMyLawTutor.com.

Visit us at www.findmylawtutor.com for Help with LSAT Practice Problems and Tutoring, Law School Admissions and Assistance, and Bar Exam Preparation. Our website matches LSAT, Law School, and Bar Tutors with students and legal study materials– Providing Law Students with Help with Legal Exams.

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