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Spotlight: How Mineral Area College Bookstore Approaches Publisher Consignment Rentals

Posted by Liz Schulte on 5/20/19 6:00 AM
Topics: course materials, college affordability, publisher consignment rentals

As an answer to the demand for more affordable course material options, publishers developed the publisher consignment rental program. Publisher consignment rentals are a collection of rental-only titles that have been selected by the publisher. These books are offered at a lower price point than a new book and provide faculty with the latest editions for their classrooms. But what does that mean for the college store? Recently, we with sat down with the Mineral Area College Bookstore Manager Aaron Miller to discuss his experience carrying publisher consignment rentals. 

How Mineral Area Community College Bookstore Approaches Publisher Consignment RentalsCan you tell me about your store’s experience with publisher consignment rentals?

This semester, we had our first opportunity to try the program when a faculty member selected a publisher consignment rental book. There were a few differences between this and a traditional rental, but they were positive. For example, it was easier to get the books we needed, and we only had to pay for the books we rented.

In my experience, the program was simple and worked great in our store.

Did you have any concerns about trying the program?

I didn’t.

When I first received the email from my MBS Marketing Representative Jeremy Hawkins, I didn’t fully understand the benefits of the program. However, he called me and said he would stop by the store. We had an in-depth discussion about the program. After we spoke, I felt like I had a good understanding of why publisher consignment rentals were being offered and how they could benefit our campus, students and store.

He really took the time to answer my questions and made sure I understood the program’s key components. So, when the first adoption came in, I was confident that our store could handle it without any problems.

What was the adoption process like?

The adoption process was the same. The book was clearly marked as a rental only in the MBS system. The main difference was that I knew my entire order could be easily fulfilled by MBS. I appreciated that I didn’t have to worry about the book being in stock or have to order it from another company. Just knowing that MBS would supply my whole order gave me one less thing to worry about. It actually made it very simple.

How do you inform students about the rental terms?

Publisher consignment rentals fit into our existing rental process. If students rent a textbook from us at the beginning of the semester, we give them two reminders. First, we clearly print on their receipt when the book is due back in the store. Second, we attach a rental pamphlet to the receipt. It covers all of our rental terms, when the book is due back, the condition the book should be returned in and any other information students would need to know about their rental agreement.

At the end of the term, we use MBS inSite to remind students about their rental returns. InSite lets us automatically email students who haven’t made their rental return. These emails give students the book description, informs them about any penalty they could incur if their book wasn’t returned on time and  lets students know the total they would owe if the book wasn’t returned at all.

Have you had any additional reporting with publisher consignment rentals?

I haven’t. MBS reports to the publishers for our store, so there isn’t extra work for us. MBS runs their publisher consignment rental report that shows how many books we have rented out and invoices the store for those books. It’s really that simple.   

What would you say to another bookstore manager who is one the fence with trying consignment rentals?

For our store, it has been similar to offering traditional rental books. If a store already carries rentals, then why wouldn’t they offer this as well when they get an adoption? It really has been simple to manage, and it minimizes store risk. We didn’t have to make a purchase upfront. We based our order on our estimated sales and then were invoiced only for the books our store rented to students. If anyone is already doing rentals, I would definitely recommend doing it.

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About Liz Schulte

Liz Schulte is an author and business owner with a background in customer service, marketing and higher education development.

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