A growing number of students are choosing not to purchase their course materials because of the cost associated with them. The practice causes the problems one would expect: more student stress as their grades take a hit, teacher frustration at students not being prepared and a lot of finger-pointing from everyone. The students blame the bookstore and the school. The bookstore could have had better prices on inventory if the faculty had their adoptions in on time. The faculty, in turn, are unaware of how their role can impact the cost to the student. Few people outside of the college store understand the whole process beginning to end — but everyone has an opinion. People want more cost-savings options. After new, used and digital course materials, what’s left? Rental.
New books are being left behind as students actively search for alternatives. Used books and rentals are the two options more students are choosing when they make course materials purchases. According to a recent study, 67% of students buy used textbooks, 55% rent, 25% buy new and 25% download e-textbooks.
This year’s ICBA MVP, the CU Bookstore at the University of Colorado Boulder, credited their rental program as one of the areas that set them apart. They rented 95,000 books and saved students an estimated $4.1 million during the 2016-2017 school year alone. Over a five year span this number is even more dramatic at 340,000 books rented with an estimated savings of $13.3 million.
“It really is the most cost-effective way for students to get their books today,” Chris Gotski, director of CU Book Store said. “Faculty are starting to understand that if they adopt the same books the next semester, it can save students money and we can maintain an investment in our inventory.”
Students can rent a book as easily as they purchase a book and rentals provide upfront savings of up to 60% off of the list price. Student financial aid, backed with a credit or debit card, can also be used to pay for rentals. After finals, students simply turn the book back in, no need to go through buyback or individually selling the book. The whole process can be simple and effective, while providing students an ideal solution to balance their financial concern and their desire to be prepared for class.
Rentals are increasingly expected to be a course materials option for students. With a simple Google search for “textbook rentals” there are pages of companies who are willing to provide the service to students if they can’t find the options they want in the college store. Those companies may not be the most reputable, they might not get the correct edition and third-party seller scams are growing. However, for many students, cost trumps all else.