After test-piloting a textbook rental program at three campus stores, Barnes & Noble College is rolling out the program more broadly to 25 U.S. colleges. Students will be able to rent textbooks from their campus bookstores, online, or from Barnes & Noble (BKS) stores on campus. Students who want to rent online will be able to do so through their campus bookstore websites, such as Ohio State’s or the University of South Carolina’s.
Campus bookstores still have a lock on a lot of textbook purchases because professors order their books through those stores. But the rise of these rental options has students asking themselves why should they pay $150 for a textbook when they can rent one for $25 instead? As more students do the math, Barnes & Noble had better hurry up and roll out textbook rentals across all college campuses.
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Monday, January 11, 2010
A New Way to Study
Barnes & Noble College is trying something different. In addition to selling new and used textbooks to students at universities around the country (including my own alma mater, Boston U.), they're offering textbook rentals, for a fraction of the cost.
SeekingAlpha.com fills us in:
This is the first I'd heard of a textbook rental program, but apparently, it's not all that new. In implementing this program, B&N is playing catch-up to internet start-ups Chegg and BookRenter. While I'm sure this is something students will clamor for--pinching pennies is HUGE when you're a struggling college student--I'm not sure I would have participated if this had been available when I was in school. I had a tough time even buying used books! Other people's margin notes, highlighting, etc. always threw me off. I needed the fresh and clean pages to mark up on my own. And I'd imagine that is a no-no for book rentals.
However, it's likely to happen anyway. The wear and tear on college textbooks is tremendous, and so I'm not sure how well the books will hold up. Just like DVDs that get scratched at Blockbuster, these books are going to get torn, written in, spilled on, and who knows what else.
But, on the plus side, the stressful rush on the university bookstore when the semester begins will certainly be minimized. Anyone who's ever had to fight for a copy of The Norton Anthology of British Literature knows what I mean.
I guess we'll have to wait and see how many students jump on board this growing trend. And how many books get destroyed in the process.