Like everyone in the education industry, I think we have a textbook issue that needs fixing. Several students at UTSA over the course of the past few years have developed websites for textbook sales and trades hoping to ease the heartaches of textbook purchases and resales. The ebook readers, like the Kindle, are working with the publishers to get the textbooks converted to ebooks. And I noticed that L&M bookstore is starting a rent-a-textbook option.
Now, Barnes and Noble is rolling out a program to 25 colleges (not in Texas and not nearly enough colleges across the US.) Students will be able to rent textbooks from their campus bookstores, online, or from the Barnes and Nobles stores on campus. Students who want to rent online will be able to do so through their campus bookstore websites.
Chegg, a startup which offers textbook rentals online to any student across the country has raised $144 million in venture capital and dominates the budding textbook rental market. It claims on its Website that it has already saved students $100 million.
Meanwhile, another startup, BookRenter, has expanded its rental library to 3 million textbooks. It serves students across 5,000 campuses in the U.S., and says that it’s business is growing 300 percent a year.
Campus bookstores still have a lock on a lot of textbook purchases because professors order their books through those stores. But the rise of these rental options has students asking themselves why should they pay $150 for a textbook when they can rent one for $25 instead?