Renting Textbooks

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August 4th, 2010

Every college student is painfully aware of the astronomically priced textbooks they are required to purchase each semester. Studies indicate that the cost of textbooks have increased by 75% over the past decade. In an age of soaring tuitions, this is a tough pill to swallow. New legislation passed in 2008 under the Higher Education Opportunity Act demands textbook publishers to disclose the prices of their books to professors as part of their marketing routine. In the past, many professors would have no clue how much their required texts cost until their students would tell them. Additionally, many instructors are now choosing texts that are accessible via the internet, free of charge.

However, there are many textbooks that must be purchased to the lament of many students. A revolutionary way of accessing these high-priced textbooks is by renting them. This phenomenon has gained serious ground over the past couple of years. Barnes & Noble is introducing this program at hundreds of colleges this year. Some of the major companies that operate college bookstores have already implemented this process with effective results. Students are excited that they may no longer have to shell out a couple hundred bucks for a textbook they will never open after the semester.

The companies involved in this rental program are advertising savings of up to 50%, compared to buying the books outright. Students are even allowed to highlight and mark up the texts they rent as long as the books are returned in otherwise good condition. These companies are looking to rent out textbooks at least three different times. If students wish to keep the textbook at the end of the semester, they can exercise an option to buy it. Another highlight of the new legislation mandates that colleges now post a list of required texts for each course during the registration process so that students have enough time to shop around the best deals on these books.

This is a refreshing change of events that’s sole purpose is to make higher education more accessible to students. The rising cost of tuition affects everyone. It seems the booksellers were looking for a piece of the action themselves. You can’t blame them. However, innovative companies have realized that students were beginning to look elsewhere for textbooks. It was a smart decision to start renting out their merchandise to keep their hold on the market.

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