Rent Textbooks Instead of Buying

By Dorisbeth Pena

This fall is the first semester at Mercy College that students are now given the option

to rent their textbooks for roughly half the price of buying them.

The Dobbs Ferry campus bookstore now offers almost one-third of Mercy College textbooks for rental, which some feel is more economical for students.

“This is here to stay; it’s not temporary” claims store manager David Neufeld, who predicts each semester more and more books will be available for rental.

The Mercy bookstore is actually not owned by the college but a private company, Follett Higher Education Group, which has 850 stores but has only started the new rental program in 27 of them. The idea arose from a corporate demand that the students had been asking for, he said.

Instead of purchasing a book that might cost one hundred dollars, a student can now rent it for only$45. Follett Corporation has set the cost of renting textbooks at about half that of owning new books.

All that is required is to be eighteen years of age, have a driver’s license, state identification or passport, and have a debit or credit card. The rental fee is paid immediately and the credit card information will be held as collateral.

“Students have been very excited about the rentals,” said Neufeld. “Some have been shocked when they came to spend a lot of money on a semester’s worth of textbooks and found they had the option to rent for less.”

When renting the books, a due date is required. If the books are not in the store by their due dates or the books have water damage, a replacement fee will automatically be charged. There is also a processing fee for damaged or lost books which will end up costing the student more than the original price of the book, typically 110 percent of the total book’s value. For example, if a student paid $45 to rent a $100 book, the student would then have to pay an additional $65 if the book is lost, damaged, or not returned. This would not be required if the book has been highlighted or written in, which is considered standard student wear and tear.

Follett explains on their website that the company tries to make the rental process easy and is willing to accommodate students, even those who are receiving financial aid or having to pay for textbook rental with college campus cards.

The price of textbooks has actually doubled the cost of inflation over the past two decades, according to a Government Accountability Office report conducted in 2005. The average cost of textbooks for college students is $900 a year. The National Association of College Stores study in 2008 estimated that U.S. college bookstores sold over $10 billion in text books in 2008 as it competed with online options such as Amazon.