Students have always had the option to buy new or used textbooks from Salt Lake Community College bookstores, but starting this summer, there is a third option.
Now students can rent their textbooks, either online or through automated kiosks located at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus bookstore.
“Book rentals are something that is growing across the country, and a lot of colleges are going to textbook rental,” said Steve Ferre, college store director. “It’s just one of the things that students are doing in order to defray the cost of textbooks.”
The new rental option is part of the bookstore’s effort to help students overcome textbook sticker shock.
Students can go online to bookstore.slcc.edu and choose the “rent” option. The bookstore sends the book to the student’s home with the understanding that at the end of the rental time, the student is required to send it back.
Alternatively, students can shop for their textbooks in person at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus bookstore. From there, they can use the new kiosks to facilitate the rental process.
“We are still in the infancy stage trying to get out any kind of process glitches,” Ferre said. “Eventually we do have plans to put them on any other campuses, so if a student is going to Jordan Campus and wants to rent a book they certainly can come to Redwood and do that.”
According to textbook manager Marianne Gines, the cost of renting a new book is about 62 percent less than buying it while buying a used book costs 58 percent less. She also said that textbook rental is less expensive than using ebooks, which is currently only $10 less than the printed book price.
Gines said that renting textbook is a good option, but she feels that buying used books is still the best way to save money. If a student resells a used book, the total savings will outperform the rental option.
The big caveat of the used textbook scenario is that it only works if somebody is willing to buy it back. For some textbooks, bookstore buyback is virtually guaranteed. For others, the seller might be forced to use a non-bookstore marketplace to recoup their losses.
Textbook rental eliminates that hassle and guesswork, and demands less of an initial investment. Ferre said that if a student wants to save money upfront, then renting is the way to go.