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Archive for Monday, September 13, 2010

Textbook rental opens new chapter in student economics

Kansas University fifth-year senior Vance Carlson, of Belleville, searches for a design textbook Friday at the Kansas Union Bookstore. Students now have the option of renting textbooks from the bookstore as it tries to keep up with online competition.

Kansas University fifth-year senior Vance Carlson, of Belleville, searches for a design textbook Friday at the Kansas Union Bookstore. Students now have the option of renting textbooks from the bookstore as it tries to keep up with online competition.

September 13, 2010

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When Nikki Prenevost stopped by the campus bookstore at Kansas University this semester, she saved about $50 on one costly interpersonal communications textbook.

Renting textbooks becoming more viable option for students

Traditional bookstores are having to change their ways to compete with the option to rent textbooks. Enlarge video

Piles of textbooks are shelved at the Kansas Union Bookstore. Some students find that renting their books can be cheaper than buying them.

Piles of textbooks are shelved at the Kansas Union Bookstore. Some students find that renting their books can be cheaper than buying them.

On the street

Would you rather buy your textbooks or rent them?

It’s a lot more practical to rent them, but (as far as) condition you never get a good rented one. I always buy off of Amazon.

More responses

The Kansas City, Kan., freshman rented it — joining a growing trend that helps students curb quickly rising textbook costs. She compared prices online, before deciding that she probably had no desire to keep the book past this semester, and took the cheaper route.

“I think it is a great option” for students — or in her case, parents — looking to save on costs, she said.

Estella McCollum, director of the on-campus KU Bookstores, said students taking an average load of general education courses can expect to spend $400 to $500 per semester on textbooks.

For some content areas — like the sciences — the bill can be even higher.

McCollum said the KU Bookstores partnered with BookRenter.com to offer textbook rentals to students this year for the first time. That option can be 50 to 75 percent less than the book’s published new price.

The store also debuted an online price comparison tool and a print-on-demand service that prints and binds collections of articles and a few textbooks in the store, reducing the store’s costs for shipping and storing excess materials.

“We had to get really aggressive this summer. We did launch book rentals online, we launched the price comparison and print on demand all in one summer,” she said. “I didn’t hesitate to put our online competitors up on our website because it is a fair option for students and they need to understand that we recognize that.”

The push for bookstores to offer rentals at reduced prices comes as students have flocked online looking for lower prices, where sites like Chegg, BookRenter, CampusBookRentals and Skoobit give students options at reduced prices.

McCollum said KU Bookstores chose to partner with BookRenter after that company featured options that let students see whether buying a book and selling it later would be better for them.

Also, other sites like Chegg have been aggressively marketing on campus, and denigrating the campus bookstores, McCollum said.

Andrew Storer, a KU journalism student, is a “Chegg Champion,” meaning he earns a cash commission with Chegg for every student he refers to the site. He said he’s encouraged many in his fraternity to use the online service.

With all the competition, other area bookstores — including the Jayhawk Bookstore and the University Book Shop — are offering textbook rentals on their own, for about half the book’s listed price.

McCollum warned that not all rentals can be cost-effective for students — many books can be sold back at the end of the semester, and students should be aware that buying a used book and then selling it back to the bookstore ultimately might save them more money with some titles, she said.

Still, for students strapped for cash at the beginning of the semester, book rental offers an opportunity that was pretty hard to find before the trend came along.

And that’s all fine for Luis Guillen, a junior from Lawrence, who’s rented books in the past.

“It does seem a little bit easier,” he said. “It’s cheaper for one thing, which saves a little bit of money. It really just gets rid of the problem. You take it back, you don’t have to have it on your hands, and you don’t have to worry about it.”

Comments

sad_lawrencian 4 years, 3 months ago

Hey, it's not the "college experience" without these kids having 100s of dollars in textbook expenses each semester. I had to pay, so therefore so should they.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 3 months ago

Agreed. What about the families that own the text book shops? How will they be able to live fat if they can't sell someone a new text book for $150, then buy it back from them at the end of the semester for $40, then turn around and sell it to the next person for $110 used?

Janet Lowther 4 years, 3 months ago

My father fought for textbook rental for the public schools over 50 years ago.

Why on earth did the notion take so long to get to the university level?

Of course public school textbooks are changed far less frequently than university level textbooks.

Sharon Roullins 4 years, 3 months ago

Amazon. com and bookrenter.com are two sites that I used. With amazon you can resell the book if you don't want to keep it. I highly recommend bookrenter.com and if all else fails, you can always request it through the library (if you have your schedule in time).

Sharon Roullins 4 years, 3 months ago

Photocopying the book wouls tecnically be against copyright infringements.

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