Purchasing textbooks is a chore, and can be painful on the wallet. Now, an in-store textbook rental service at the UConn Co-op offers students an alternative to buying books that is both convenient and economical.
In the past, the UConn Co-op offered a limited number of titles for rent. But in response to student requests for a more accessible system for textbook rentals, the UConn Co-op teamed up with Campus Book Rentals, a company that also offers online rentals, to increase the number of titles available for rent in-store. Today, more than 1,700 of the 3,000 titles offered at the Co-op can be rented, and the service is available at all UConn campuses.
“Students like the idea of being able to rent the book and immediately take it home with them, then and there,” says Madeline Spata, textbook division manager of the UConn Co-op.
Students are able to browse the bookshelves for rentable books, which are clearly labeled, or search for titles at kiosks in the store.
Lydia Derienzo ’14 (PHR) is a pre-pharmacy major who chose to rent her organic chemistry textbook because it was $100 cheaper than buying it. “The kiosks were easy to use and the people at the help desk were very helpful,” Derienzo says. “I would choose to rent my textbooks again next semester.”
Textbooks can be scanned directly at the kiosks, which provide on-screen directions for check-out. A customer simply needs to enter their name, identification number, and email, and pay with a credit card. The student brings a printed receipt from the kiosk to the textbook checkout counter, and can immediately take the book home.
Light highlighting in rented textbooks is allowed, and students have the option of purchasing the book at any time during the rental period. If the book is not returned, the cost of the book is charged to the customer’s credit card.
While the established option of textbook buyback after use offers some relief to the high price of purchasing a textbook, it can’t always be relied on. Says Spata, “Textbook buyback cannot always be guaranteed. With renting, you save money up front.”
Renting textbooks online is often associated with long delivery times, an issue that is eliminated with the Co-op’s in-store rental program. Safwan Zar ’13 (CLAS), an allied health major, commented on his experience renting his biochemistry textbook through an online company: “It took over a week for my book to come in the mail, and I was nervous that it would not arrive in time for the first day of class.” Zar says that he would rather have been able to take the rented book home directly from a bookstore, and will definitely be taking advantage of the Co-op’s new textbook rental system in the future.
This semester, more than 5,540 copies have been rented to date from the Co-op University-wide, and this number is likely to grow.
“Students are very pleased that we are doing something to help defray the cost of textbooks,” Spata says. “It has already saved the students a significant amount of money.”