College textbook rentals

January 29, 2010 3:39:31 PM PST
Lamont Moore is never quite sure how he will pay for the textbooks he needs at Borough of Manhattan Community College. "Have you seen those billboards that say, 'Some New Yorkers have to choose between food and rent'? Some college students have to choose between books and food, so yeah, it gets pretty expensive," said Moore.

A new option to rent books at the campus bookstore is likely to help students, like Shirah Sital, who spends $600 a year on textbooks.

"It's hard because sometimes I have to struggle between transportation and paying for all of my textbooks," said Sital.

The Borough of Manhattan Community College's bookstore is just one of hundreds run by Barnes and Noble across the country.

The company began a pilot program for renting books at two stores in the fall, and is now expanding to another 25 stores.

"Really, the driving force was to make sure that we were offering students a reason to come into the store," explained Jade Roth, the Vice President of Barnes and Noble.

Students have always been able to buy a new or used textbook at the beginning of the year and then sell it back to the bookstore at the end of the year for half of what they paid.

That price, however, depends on whether or not the book will be re-used in coursework, and Barnes and Noble says that by renting textbooks, students are able to get an up front savings of more than 50%"

"We look to offer them as many different options, as many different price points, as many different formats as humanly possible," said Roth.

Barnes and Noble also rents textbooks online.

Another website for rentals is run by a company called Cengage.

They claim to have savings of up to 70%.

The overall rental business is picking up just in time for students.

"I think it will save me a lot, because as I do not have financial aid, I have a loan to pay," said student Gianni Portal.