College textbook rental is a relatively new idea in the business. Basically, it entails paying a fee, which is often far less than the actual cost of the textbook and keeping the book until the return date. While this program can save the students and/or parents a great deal of money, great care must be taken not to void the rental agreement.
What is something that all college students have in common? They need textbooks and they can all agree on one thing. Textbooks are expensive. Textbooks are essential to the student’s success and the ability to complete the necessary coursework for their class. The more specialized the text, the pricier it becomes. For example, an English anthology would be at the lower end of the scale, setting you back about $75.00. Compare this to a business textbook, which can easily cost close to $200.00. Medical, nursing and law texts are even more expensive. And this is just one book for one class. Imagine a full time student taking four or five classes in a semester. Of course, you can sell back unwanted books at the end of the semester, but usually you only get a fraction of what you originally paid. So, renting provides an excellent opportunity to save money. A rental fee is paid, which can save up to fifty percent off the new price of the title. You get to keep the book for the entire semester. As long as you return it on or before the return date specified in the contract, in good condition, you will not incur any additional fees. It really is a win-win situation.
There is a downside to textbook rental however. Not all of your required textbooks may be available to rent. Even within those available titles, only a fixed percentage of the stock on that title will be set aside for rental. In other words, there is a quota on how many copies of a particular title will be made available for rental. It is pretty much first come, first serve. Your next cheapest option would then be a used copy, which usually offers a discount of up to 25%.
In addition, a potential renter is usually required to have a valid credit card. This is kept on file when processing the rental for insurance. The book, when returned, must be in a good condition and it must be returned on time. This generally means that the book’s spine cannot be torn nor can it have any torn pages. You must also be careful no to stain the book with food or drink. Liquid and books do not mix! Highlighting and notes are usually acceptable under a certain percentage. In other words, it should nice for the next person. The store wants to be able to rent that title in the next semester. By signing the agreement, you authorize the store to charge your card certain penalties if the book is lost, returned late, or brought back in poor condition. However, reminders are usually sent in an attempt to avoid the lateness issue. How you treat your texts is up to you.
I speak from experience, not as a student, but as a former college bookstore employee. Overall, I would definitely recommend this program to students. Just bear in mind that the book is not yours to keep and must be treated accordingly. In this way you can avoid financial penalties which, in conjunction with the rental fee, may end up costing you more in the end.