SRJC introduces new way to cut textbook costs

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Among the vast amounts of budget cuts, loss of class sections and increasing prices of textbooks, a new hope has entered the SRJC bookstore. For the first time, SRJC students will have the option of renting textbooks from the bookstore.

The process for renting a textbook is fairly simple. If a book can be rented, there will be a blue tag underneath the textbook with the rental price. The bookstore provides a list of rules and advice for taking care of the textbook and when and where to return the book.

The price for renting textbooks ranges from $35 to $55. If the book is returned on time and not severely damaged, then there will be no additional charge. The actual amount of money one can save by renting textbooks varies with every book.

“The price of renting the book is usually less than half that of purchasing the book,” said Elroy Manning, SRJC student and employee at the SRJC bookstore,

There are a few places that students commonly buy their textbooks. Besides the bookstore, two popular websites are BookByte.com and Textbooks.com. Savings for each book vary by website. For example, “The Struggle for Democracy,” by Edward S. Greenberg and Benjamin I. Page, is a commonly used textbook for Political Science classes. According to Andres Montgomery, chief strategy officer at Bookbyte.com, this book can be rented from the bookstore for $50. The same book can be bought used on BookByte.com for around $75 and sold back for approximately $39, bringing the total cost to about $35. In this case, buying the book on BookByte.com would be cheaper than renting it.

Textbooks.com allows students to either purchase or rent textbooks. “The Struggle for Democracy” can be bought for $89 and sold back for $29, which makes the total cost $60. While renting the book from SRJC’s bookstore is cheaper in this case, Textbooks.com will also allow students to rent the book for one semester for about $44. Overall, buying the book on BookByte.com and selling it back was the cheapest option, saving students $15 when compared to renting the book.

“The problem with renting textbooks is that you don’t own the book. You put money out to access the book, but you don’t get anything back because at the end of the day it isn’t yours,” said Colleen Moffitt, company spokesperson for Bookbyte.com.

Another issue with buying textbooks is that it’s difficult to predict when teachers will switch to new editions of books. If a teacher stops using a book, the bookstore will not buy it back. There is always the option of selling the textbook to a fellow student directly or selling the book online, but even this isn’t guaranteed to work out. “I think students should sell [the books] directly to students or online via Bookbyte.com or Amazon.com. How much money you can end up making depends on the condition of the book and how old it is,” said Moffitt.

Another problem is whether or not you can get a used copy. If this is the first semester the book is being used, there will only be new editions available. In this case, renting may be the best option.

The rental process is still very new to campus and students are unsure about it. Overall, the option of renting textbooks has brought a lot of business back to the bookstore. Students that would usually buy their books online are now looking at rentals as an option.

“Whether or not renting will continue to be an option depends on the success of it all,” said Manning, “But so far, so good.”

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