Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recession relief: rent textbooks

Students worrying about spending hundreds of dollars buying textbooks every semester can save money by renting textbooks from the
CSM bookstore or online.

CSM students spent an estimated annual average of $1,638 this fall semester on books and supplies, more than double the in-state tuition fees of $816, according to the College Board, the association that manages college placement tests like the SAT and AP.

College textbook prices nearly tripled from December 1986 to December 2004, according to a Government Accountability Office Study released in 2005.

"College students spend an average of $400 per semester and up to $1,000 each year on textbooks," said CSM bookstore manager James Peacock.

The CSM bookstore allows students to rent textbooks for the semester and needs teachers to commit to an edition of a textbook for two years before the bookstore can start a textbook rental course, said Peacock.

The bookstore currently has textbook rentals for 12 courses, Peacock said.

"The CSM bookstore buys books back for half the original price and can buy used textbooks only if the textbook is to be used for at least two semesters," said Peacock. "With new editions coming out almost every year, teachers often require students to get the latest editions."

Students can potentially save hundreds of dollars renting books via online textbook rental companies like, and, based in Santa Clara, California, Ogden, Utah and North Carolina respectively.

"The word 'Chegg' was conceived from the 'chicken or egg first' theory," said Tina Couch,'s vice president of public relations in a phone interview. " helps students save 60 to 75 percent off the list price, and has to-date helped save students over $71 million."

" was started in 2007 by Alan Martin on a few select campuses, and now we serve students on over 4,000 campuses," wrote spokesperson Jase McCormick in an e-mail. "Students can receive cash for referring friends to"

"Our slogan is 'Because College is Expensive Enough'," wrote Holly White, public relations officer of in an e-mail. " can save students up to 85 percent on textbooks.

Students can choose 60, 85 or 125 day rentals at, 60, 90, or 130 day rentals from and 55, 85, or 130 day rentals from also allows students to select their own due date with a minimum rental period of 30 days.

Health: The Basics by Donatelle, a required textbook for two-unit general ed course Health Science 100, costs $83.70 new and $62.80 used from the CSM bookstore; it costs $34.99 to rent for 125 days from, $41.54 to rent for 130 days from and $31.38 to rent for 130 days from

Looking In/ Looking Out by Adler, a required textbook for three-unit general ed course Speech 120, costs $29.35 to rent for a semester from the CSM bookstore; it costs $34.49 to rent for 125 days from, $29.13 to rent for 130 days from, and is at the time of writing "currently unavailable" at

Sales taxes and shipping fees are excluded from the listed prices.

Students wanting to own the books they are renting can buy it for the listed price minus the rent already paid from all three companies.

" allows for minor highlighting but requests that students limit writing in the book," said Couch.

"It's like renting a DVD; you are not supposed to return a scratched disc."

"We do allow students to highlight in our textbooks as long as it can be used by another student; pencil and ink markings are also allowed," wrote McCormick.

"In making this an option for the student we ask students to be respectful to other students who may be using the book after them."

" offers over 2.4 million titles, and we guarantee that textbooks will be delivered in fewer than seven days," said Couch. "You can choose to pay more if you need your books to be delivered in two or three days' time." offers free shipping with delivery times of seven to 14 business days, expedited shipping with delivery times of five to eight business days and hopes to add a two-day shipping option in the near future.

All three companies offer free return shipping.

11.3 cents of every "new textbook dollar" sold from the CSM Bookstore goes to its CSM student employees, according to the National Association of College Stores.

" plants a tree for every book rented or bought," said Couch. "Since began in 2007, has planted over one million trees through's partnership with American Forest." donates part of its proceeds to a humanitarian project fund which in 2008 helped to provide laptops to school children through the One Laptop Per Child Foundation.

Since began operations in May 2009, it has donated $8,475.75 of its proceeds to the American Heart Association.

"Most CSM professors require students to use online access kits or other supplemental material provided with a new textbook, so sometimes students can't rent textbooks as most access kits are valid for only 18 months and can only be used once," said Peacock. currently offers the supplemental kits of only some textbooks, said Couch. can only guarantee the textbooks as supplemental materials may have been damaged in the first use of the book, wrote McCormick.

"If the customer needs access to these kits then renting the textbook may not be the best option," wrote McCormick. "It is always wise to check with your professor before ordering."

"Make sure students are checking used book prices as well as sometimes you can buy for less than renting ," added McCormick. has started a pilot rental program of 25 titles with textbook publisher McGraw-Hill Cos that launched in August this year.

"In the future, is looking to expand on this," said Couch. "In the meantime, for textbooks with very tailored kits, you will still need to get them from your college bookstore." did not reply to queries from the San Matean.

Students can buy and sell books on, buy electronic textbooks from and, and compare prices on and Students can also swap their textbooks and pay only for shipping charges at and

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