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As tuition, housing and other student expenses are continuously rising, many students have turned to renting textbooks to help cut costs.
CampusBookRentals.com began in 2007 and is viewed as one of the pioneers in textbook renting. The site has the nationâ€™s largest selection of rentable textbooks, accommodating students on more than 5,000 campuses.
Alan Martin, CEO of CampusBookRentals.com, said by renting textbooks, students can keep their money to use on other needs.
â€œThe biggest benefit is that you save money upfront,â€ Martin said. â€œItâ€™s the same reason you would rent a video instead of buying it. It helps students keep cash upfront to use on other expenses.â€
According to a poll issued by the company, Martin said the average savings for students who rent as opposed to buy is around $250 a semester.
â€œStudents have consistent savings when renting, and youâ€™re always going to save at least half of the price the books normally sell for,â€ Martin said.
However, some bookstores selling textbooks instead of renting argue the savings is little to nonexistent.
â€œFor a simple example, say a new textbook sells for $100,â€ said Carol Behr, general manager of Kennedy Bookstore.Â â€œRentals typically charge 42 to 46 percent of the sale price, and at the end of the semester there is no option to keep it. If we know the professor will be using the book next semester, weâ€™ll buy it back for half the original price, in this case $50.â€
Behr said Kennedyâ€™s looked at a contract for renting books at the beginning ofÂ Fall 2009, but felt it would serve no benefit for students.
â€œThere are hidden policies and stipulations, such as what condition the book must be returned in, and if it is lost or stolen, the student may find themselves paying double the original price,â€ Behr said. â€œThere was a trend in renting 16 to 20 years ago, but it didnâ€™t work well because of obstacles that came with it. Now, with the current economic situation, students are starting to explore renting as an option again, but itâ€™s not economically viable.â€
Despite the upfront savings in cost, some students still prefer purchasing textbooks over renting because of the freedom ownership allows them.
â€œThe reason I donâ€™t rent is because I like writing in the books and using them in the following semesters,â€ said electrical engineering sophomore Philip Morris. â€œMany of my books follow directly into the new courses, so itâ€™s good to be able to look back at old rules.â€
Although Kennedyâ€™s currently does not offer textbook renting as an option, they havenâ€™t dismissed the idea entirely.
â€œI wonâ€™t say that weâ€™ll never rent textbooks,â€ Behr said.Â â€œIf it seemed like a viable option that would help students and became very popular, then weâ€™d probably do it.â€