College bookstores offer textbook rentals

August 5, 2011 6:58:22 AM PDT
Everyone knows that college is expensive. And one of the big costs is the price of textbooks. For years, students have been buying used textbooks at a discount. Now, there's another option: textbook rentals.

Follett, which runs a Camden bookstore that serves Rutgers, Camden County and Rowan, started renting textbooks at 25 stores across the country last year.

This year, they've expanded the program to more than 700 college and university campuses.

Mike McEneany of Follett Bookstores explains, "The rental textbook is about 50% of the price of the new textbook. So, we're offering significant dollar savings for the students."

He adds, "The student can use the textbook and make traditional changes that they would make, like highlighting or note-taking, just like they would with a typical textbook and handle it in the same fashion they would with a used book."

Rentals last one semester.

Students are welcoming the program.

Rutgers Sophomore Alex Hirst said, "I was kind of excited because I have these general requirement classes, like math, where I'm not going to use these books (after the term) and I can just rent them, and then I can have my history books that I can keep and look back at them."

Fellow Rutgers Sophomore Kyle Newman echoed him. "That's the best idea I've heard because books are not cheap at all. These biology books, they run like $176 apiece and I'm not going to use them after this (term)."

The rentals are cheaper than buying used books at the university bookstores.

But we also spotted some really thrifty students at the bookstore who were jotting down the titles, authors and ISBN numbers of books they needed and who said they would then search the web to see if they can find even better deals.

One popular site for comparison shopping is TextbookRentals.com -- which compares textbook prices from a number of online retailers.

Others are BookRenter.com, Textbookstop.com, and Textbooks.com.

We searched for a popular text, Introduction to MacroEconomics by Dolan on several sites. Here's what we found:

The Follett store in Camden was selling it new for $41.50, used for $31.25, or renting it for $18.58.

Prices on the aggregator site, TextbookRentals.com, purchase prices for used copies ranged from $5.55 to $37.47. Rentals were available for $16.41 or $28.94.

Bookrenter.com and TextbookStop.com didn't have the book available when we searched.

Textbooks.com had used copies available for purchase priced from $2.57 to $20. It did not list rental copies that were available.

TextbookStop.com

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