University Bookstore unveils textbook rental pilot program

The program will apply to three selected courses but could be expanded.
Spencer Pearson / Graphic Designer

University Bookstore will debut a textbook rental pilot program next semester, Student Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said.

The bookstore signed three rental pilot agreements for Agricultural Economics 3224 and two chemistry courses. Froese said the pilot program will allow students to rent textbooks for the selected courses for five semesters and could be expanded to include other courses in the future.

"Since these are pilots, it remains to be seen if we can make this work from an operational standpoint, but the bookstore is very excited to try," Froese said.

She estimated the rental program for Chemistry 1100's textbook would benefit 875 students who will save $68,750. Although the textbook costs $147, students will be able to rent the book for $57 next semester.

University Bookstore Director Sherry Pollard said the textbook rental program would only work for certain departments and courses.

"We tried to select courses where faculty had used the same book for a long period of time," Pollard said. "Once we made a list of those courses, we went to different departments one by one. These were the first ones to agree."

A textbook rental program at Missouri University of Science and Technology saved students more than $92,000 during three semesters, according to a UM system news release.

"In certain instances, textbook rental programs can provide a cost-savings option for students, provided that the course enrollment is fairly large, the course is consecutively offered and the academic department commits to a minimum of three years to use a specific title," the news release stated. "At large universities, textbook rental can work well with general education classes."

Pollard said the courses offering textbook rental in the spring might only be the beginning for the program but starting with only a few courses is key.

"There are a couple reasons we're starting on a smaller scale," Pollard said. "It's easier to merge with the way we currently do things and it'll be easier to monitor with just a few courses."

University Bookstore plans to use student opinion as one of the main determining factors for expanding the program.

"Starting with a few courses also makes it easier to gauge student feedback and see what the people in these classes think of renting textbooks," Pollard said.

If textbook rental does extend to more courses in future semesters, the bookstore would continue to offer the option of purchasing the textbook rather than renting it, Pollard said.

"We plan to offer rent and purchase options as part of our program," Pollard said. "Even though most students will probably want to benefit from the lower cost of renting books, it is possible that a student may want to keep a chemistry book if they plan on going into that field."

Pollard said the bookstore would gather student feedback on the rental program throughout its first semester to determine whether to offer it for more courses.

"We'll look at the response from students and how well the program can be managed," Pollard said. "Those will be the main things that will help us determine whether or not we'll expand the program."

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