When you think about the lowest net cost for having a textbook for a semester or year, consider buying and selling back a used textbook, compared to rental or buying new as your lowest cost option.
Prices for textbooks (both buying and selling) fluctuate throughout the year. Generally, if you can buy your book when fewer people are buying and sell it when more people want it, you can catch a little wave.
The net cost (buying cost minus selling payment) is often less than renting, always less than buying new, and in my opinion about the only way to get reasonably low net cost... lower than a rental. This is especially true if you can play the seasonality price swing game.
Also, consider splitting up your book buyback. Sending one or even three packages can net you more than sending them all to one place.
Although there are a number of book buyback comparison sites, BlueRectangle.com offers a nice method of sorting that allows you to see the difference between sending out one package or many. All 5 sites shown well-established and have a great BBB rating. Hope that helps!
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Original Comment: November 28, 2014 Just to add to Joe's excellent rebuttal to Anonymous' overly simplified post, just because a thrift store …