A steady trend throughout campuses across the nation has seen an increase in textbook rentals as opposed to textbook purchases. The most obvious reason for this trend is students saving money.
“I figure I’m most likely not going to be using the book any further after the quarter is done,” said Peter Eckes, a fourth-year chemistry major. “So why not just rent the book? That way I’m at least saving some cash and I won’t end up with a stack of books lying around that I’d never get around to selling back or using again.”
Eckes’ rationale may be echoed by other students, leading to the surge in textbook rentals.
In a study done by Student Monitor LLC, a college market research firm, students spent an average of $345 on textbooks in fall 2005. By spring 2011, the average had fallen to $252.
In addition, a press release by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) stated that students estimate they spend $655 annually on required course materials, down from $702 four years ago.
Though these numbers may not seem absurdly high or ground-breaking, the idea behind it all is that prices have fallen. In a world where tuition is constantly on the rise and the price of anything from a cup of coffee to an apartment’s rent seems to be climbing upward at a dizzying ascent, people are realizing that some things are actually on the decline monetarily.
If the choices for textbook rentals didn’t seem abundant enough already, Amazon.com has recently decided to enter the ring by offering textbook rentals with a free return shipping program. The program allows for 130 days of rental with a 15-day extension allowed for a fee. If you keep the book longer, you will be charged the full price.
The UC Davis Bookstore is in support of textbook rentals. At the start of the rental program in Fall 2010, 8,000 units had been rented out, consisting of 246 available titles. Subsequently, by Winter quarter, the demand for rentals had pushed the available titles to 383.
In a report by UC Davis Bookstore affiliate MBS Rental, Jason Lorgan, associate director of the UC Davis Bookstore, detailed his early trepidations with textbook rentals, which soon vanished given the success of the program.
“The rental program brought lower prices back to the bookstore, which was a big relief for students and professors alike,” Lorgan said. “Even though we drastically reduced prices, our store maintained the same margin. Now we can give students the options they deserve and let them decide.”
ANDREW POH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.