More book stores plan to offer textbook rental for students

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OBERLIN, Ohio — Approximately 2,200 college stores offered textbook rental programs of some kind this past fall, and students can expect even more options — both in the number of schools and titles — in coming months, according to the latest calculations of OnCampus Research, a division of The National Association of College Stores.

“The fall 2010 number is higher than even we expected,” said Julie Traylor, NACS chief of planning & research. “Our members are just as concerned as everyone else about the increasing cost of course materials, and I think the savings rentals can generate really caught their imaginations and they ran with it.”

Savings

Students can typically rent a textbook for between 33 percent and 55 percent of the price of buying a new textbook. NACS originally estimated the number of college stores offering textbook rental programs at 1,500, based on anecdotal evidence.

“We always try to be conservative when making estimates without hard numbers,” Traylor noted.

During the fall of 2009, only 300 college stores offered textbook rental programs of some kind.

“Considering that such programs are riskier and costlier for stores to offer, this growth is impressive and exhibits our members’ commitment to providing affordable course materials for students,” said Charles Schmidt, NACS director of public relations.

“Few industries can demonstrate such quick and wholesale response to customer demand.”

Popularity

And that response continues to grow. According to the OnCampus survey, conducted in late October, two-thirds of the stores surveyed plan to expand the number of titles offered for rent in the next 12 months, and 43 percent of the stores that did not offer rental in fall 2010 said they “have definite plans to begin offering a book rental program within the next 12 months.”

(Barnes & Noble is offering rentals in an additional 150 college stores this spring term, while Follett is adding more than 50.)

“This means that almost 2,400 college stores are currently offering textbook rentals, and more than 3,000 should be offering textbook rental by next fall,” Schmidt estimated.

Options

Most campuses this past fall offered hybrid rental programs that allowed students to rent textbooks for entry-level courses. “Textbook rental can be an attractive option for students whose economic situation is such that price is the over-riding determinant of whether or not they will have a textbook,” said Schmidt.

“Our members are committed to ensuring students have the academic tools they need to succeed, and the textbook is primary in that — no matter how accessed or in what format.”

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