By Candice Choi, AP Personal Finance Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — To rent or to buy? It's a choice facing students looking to save on college textbooks.
The price for course materials has long been a sore point for families, with students spending an average of $1,000 a year on books and supplies, according to The College Board.
The marketplace has responded enthusiastically, with startups and publishers now offering to rent books or providing electronic versions at a fraction of the cost.
Lawmakers have also taken note, and next summer a federal law goes into effect that will require colleges to list the cost of required materials in online course schedules. Publishers will also need to disclose book prices in marketing sent to professors who may not realize the costs.
The move is expected to help ease the cost of college, with tuition, fees and room and board now at an average of $14,300 a year at public universities and $34,100 at private schools.
Until the new law goes into effect, here are a few ways to keep book costs down.
A relatively new option in the textbook industry is renting.
Textbooks are typically leased for a semester or longer, and costs vary depending on factors including the book's popularity.
Chegg.com, named after the old riddle about the chicken and the egg, is one of the major players in the market and says its rentals can save students 65 percent to 85 percent of the cost of buying books new. As an example, renting "Introductory Chemistry" for a semester costs $44. The book has a list price of $140.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company tries to track down any requested book that isn't in its catalog of 2.4 million titles.
Books are expected to be returned in similar condition, but co-founder Aayush Phumbhra said Chegg isn't out to nickel-and-dime students for minor scratches.
"Our goal isn't to gouge customers," he said.
Students pay to have books shipped to them, but the orders come with prepaid envelopes to make returning books easy.