by Emily Landgraf
When students are already paying thousands of dollars for tuition, the added cost of supplies can add insult to injury.
This year, bookstores on both of Rider’s campuses will be introducing a textbook-rental program to provide students up to a 50 percent discount on some textbooks.
“Our customers demand a lower-cost option,” explained Elio DiStaola, director of public and campus relations for Follett Higher Education Group. “Simply, the pressures in the economy on people’s wallets have led us to explore new programs to translate savings to students.”
According to the National Association of College Stores Retail Facts & Figures 2010 and Follett research, 15 percent of students do not buy their textbooks. Follett is hoping to decrease this figure with its new textbook-rental program, Rent-a-Text, which has been introduced at Rider this year. This new program has already been piloted at 27 higher education institutions and has saved students $6 million, according to a fact sheet about Rent-a-Text distributed by Follett.
According to DiStaola, Rent-a-Text is the lowest up-front option for students and has the added bonus of the provider being present on campus. Joe Judge, the general manager of the Lawrenceville campus bookstore, agrees.
“We are close by and [students] don’t have to wait for their books to arrive from other sites,” Judge said. “When they need to return their books, we are here for their convenience and they don’t have to find a box, pack their books and ship them back. They simply just walk into the BLC and do the transaction.”
Rent-a-Text also accepts all forms of payment, according to DiStaola. This includes cash, credit or debit cards, financial aid and campus cards. Certain books will not be available for renting, such as workbooks, loose-leaf editions and those with one-time use pass codes.
Millie Richardson, the store supervisor of Westminster’s bookstore, says that the program has already generated interest on campus.
“[Students] are using it already,” she said. “It’s a great success. It’s amazing; they’re getting a 50-percent discount. I’m so excited it’s here.”
Junior Michelle Wall loves the idea of Rent-a-Text and the convenience it offers.
“I’m a real procrastinator, so the fact that at the last minute I could run to the bookstore and get my books for $88 is just great,” she said. “Not to mention, I had such a hassle with some sellers on other sites last year.”
Junior Megan Cook agrees.
“I like the idea a lot,” Cook said. “I mean, I know plenty of people that rent books through online sites and you always run the risk of not getting the right book. Then you have to deal with returning the book and getting the proper one, which takes quite a while, and then you’re book-less for that class until you get the right one. This definitely eliminates that issue entirely.”
Other students, like junior Michelle Meredith, remain unconvinced.
“I think everyone should just go on Amazon and exert a little more effort. $45 for the Bible from the Rider bookstore? Yeah, how about $16 on Amazon.com.”
Judge said that students on the Lawrenceville campus have also responded to the program.
“To date, with still a week before classes begin, there have been over 700 students registered for the rental program,” he said. “This last week before classes begin is usually the heavy selling part of our season and I believe that number can double within that period. So I think the students will find this program favorable.”