Upfront savings from rented texts could keep students’ pockets full


Tired of paying $150 for a textbook and getting $15 – if anything – when you sell it back?  eFollet, the company that runs the UNF Bookstore, is now offering a rental option to help students save money on the books they don’t plan on keeping.

The program advertises a savings of at least 55 percent.

Students can pay by any means, including financial aid, Textbook Manager Lee Cobb said.

“Usually students are buying the books with hopes to sell it back at the end of the semester and realize that savings at the end,” Cobb said.  “With the rental program the savings are up front.”

This is the program’s first year, and UNF will be one of nine schools in the pilot program.

Students may rent new or used books, but not all books are available for rent.  For select titles there will be a yellow tag next to the normal shelf tag indicating that a book may be rented.  The yellow tags also show the rental price in order to easily compare costs.

Students can also find a list of rentable books on Facebook by searching ‘rentatext’ or going to http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/RentAText/58188426625?ref=search.  The list is the same for all nine schools in the program and there are around 300 titles, Cobb said.

Titles were chosen by eFollet, so UNF professors had no input as to which books would make good rentals.  Instead, eFollet chose books popular among colleges.  The program offers books for general education as well as major-specific courses, Cobb said.

Texts available for rent are usually new editions because they are generally in demand and have a longer shelf life, he said.

A credit card is required to rent books, but it is not charged unless students do not return their books on time.

Though the rental system may be alluring to students who are suspicious of bookstore buy-back policies, the program still has its share of penalties.  Students who do not return their book by the deadline will have to pay for 75 percent of the book’s listed new price and pay a processing fee, which is an additional 7.5 percent of the book’s listed new price, according to the rental agreement, which can be found at http://images.efollett.com/htmlroot/images/templates/library/Textbook_Rental_AGMT_v13.pdf

This means a late book costs 82.5 percent of the book’s listed new price – no matter if the book was rented new or used – and that’s on top of the initial rental fee.  This means that a $100 book rented at the minimum 55 percent off – that’s $45 – will cost a student $127.50 if it’s damaged, lost, stolen or not returned on time.

Textbook retailers’ bread and butter are used texts, which eFollet sells at 75 percent of the new price, meaning they make the entire selling price of a used book back from the late fee and net the 7.5 percent penalty and the initial rental fee as profit.

“The whole thing just kind of bugs me. You’re supposed to rent them to save money,” said sophomore biology major Charmaine Martinez. “If something happens and they charge you all those fees, it’s worse than if you actually bought the book in the first place.”

All stipulations are listed in the rental agreement, which simply requires the book be “intact, there is no damage to the book, and all component parts of the book must be present.”

Highlighting and marginal notes are allowed, though Cobb said the bookstore is wary of too much highlighting, as an excess of it will often deter students from purchasing a book.

If a student drops a class, he or she may return the book for a refund of the rental fee within seven days from the start of classes or within two business days of purchase.

The program even provides for students to buy the book after they already decided to rent it.  They do this by obtaining a refund for the rental price and then paying the purchase price for it.  They must, however, make such a switch before midterms, said Elio DiStaola, director of public and campus relations.

“The program is so new, and we hope to see it succeed,” Cobb said. “We’re really excited about it; we know that it will save students some money.”

Book rentals for the fall semester are available now. The deadline to return books is Dec. 21, 10 days after the semester ends.