Last updated: September 21, 2011 5:06 pm
Textbooks: a renter's market?
Camosun College gives lending course materials a try
VICTORIA (CUP) — Camosun College is now giving students one more option to get their course materials with an innovative textbook-rentals system.
Camosun’s bookstore is one of the first in Canada to partner with wholesaler Follett Corporation to allow students to rent expensive textbooks instead of purchasing them.
Follett started a textbook-rental program in the U.S. last year, and has now expanded the program to Canada. Partnering with Follett allows the bookstore to “test out rentals for our student body without assuming a lot of financial risk like buying a lot of inventory,” said Camosun bookstore manager Laura-Lea Berna.
The program, which saves students 50–60 per cent of the price of new textbooks, is off to a slow start. Although only approximately 100 textbooks had been rented as of press time, Berna expects those numbers to grow in the winter term.
The rental process is simple. Students search for their textbook online. If they find the book, they pay online and the book ships directly to them.
Once the student’s rental period is up, they bring the book to the Camosun bookstore and it will be shipped back to Follett. Students can also extend their rental period at any time, or buy the book outright.
The program has a lot of room for expansion. Follett currently stocks just under 70 percent of Camosun’s book list and this is expected to increase as the program grows. Books ship from the US, but Follett will soon be creating distribution centers in Canada.
“The price of textbooks continues to rise. We find that it’s very difficult to get used textbooks in every instance. We needed another option,” Berna explained.
Camosun College Student Society director of operations Michel Turcotte is glad that students now have another option to get their course materials, but thinks that if a student needs a textbook for multiple semesters, it would make more sense to buy.
In the end, he indicated his top concern is about students saving money, and the ever-changing textbook editions that make it harder for students to find used books that are suitable.
“We’ve always urged the college and faculty not to be changing editions constantly,” said Turcotte. “Editions should only change when there is new material that warrants that.”
Meanwhile, Berna explained she had even more plans for the bookstore, including an affiliate program with digital book supplier CourseSmart.
“Everyone will start seeing more digital textbooks in the winter," she said.