Students to save money with textbook rental program

Goran Vucetic, who has been working at Carleton University Bookstore for a year, says he is excited to test out the new Rent-A-Text program. (Tayleigh Armstrong Photo)

Carleton’s bookstore is one of six in Canada testing out a Rent-A-Text system this fall that will allow students to access books for half-price.

An estimated 20 per cent of textbooks will be for rent at a cost of about half of the list price. Students will be able to rent for the duration of their classes and return them at the end of the semester.

“We see it as another tool in our arsenal to be able to offer our students as a cost-effective way to get textbooks,” says Andrea D’Agostino, store director of the campus bookstore.

First-year textbooks are being targeted for rental because they are used by the most people, but a full list hasn’t been finalized yet.

“We’ll have to see how it flies with our faculty and staff and how many we can get on board,” says D’Agostino.

Students will need a credit card and ID to rent textbooks and must be at least 18 years old. They will be required to sign a rental agreement which outlines the rules including that students are allowed to highlight and write in the books as part of their studying but the spine must be in tact upon return.

“All the books available for rent will be in good condition,” says D’Agostino. “There won’t be any ripped or missing pages or anything.”

Gordon Lamb, a third-year journalism student who scours the Internet and smaller local stores to find cheap textbooks, says he thinks Rent-A-Text is a unique idea.

“I definitely will have to compare the prices to other sources of textbooks,” says Lamb. “If it works in my budget, then I’ll try it.”

Follett of Canada, which runs bookstores in more than 30 post-secondary institutions in Canada, is testing the rental program in five other university stores this fall, including the University of Winnipeg and Humber College.

“It’s not something that’s well known across Canada yet,” says D’Agostino.

However, textbook rental has caught on in the United States, where online sites Chegg and Bookrenter have capitalized on the rising price of a university education by offering cheap rental options. According to Elio DiStaola, director of campus relations at Follett, seven of its American stores piloted textbook rental programs last fall. Thanks to a warm reception, 680 Follett stores across the U.S. will offer the option to rent this year. DiStaola says he hopes Canadian students respond similarly.

“Our plan, if all goes well, is to make Rent-A-Text available to all of our Canadian campus customers for fall 2011.”

For more information, visit the Rent-A-Text FAQ at: http://content.efollett.com/rent_a_text_canada/index.html.

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Tayleigh Armstrong

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