To rent or not to rent?

Emily Sidnam investigates the Biola bookstore’s new textbook rental program.

To rent or not to rent?

Emily Sidnam, Writer

While strolling past the Biola Bookstore this past week, a blue and white poster caught my eye: “ANNOUNCING TEXTBOOK RENTAL—your lowest-cost option for textbooks.”

I’ve never been pleased to part with a hundred dollars in exchange for fifty pieces of paper glued together. If renting books truly is the lowest-cost option, I’m all for it. So, is this the cheapest way to get textbooks? Are textbook rentals worth offering?

First off, let me bring you up to date—there are about 25 books available for rent this year through the Biola Bookstore. You rent them for the semester at half the cost of the new book. You can pay by any method but need to provide a credit card number which will be put on file. If you fail to return the book at the end of the semester, you’ll be charged for the full price of the book on top of the rental fee.

The advantage of renting a textbook is that you have a lower up-front cost. If you have limited funds at the beginning of the semester, this is a great option—but, if you have a decent book budget for the year, you can do better.

To get the best price for a book at the Biola Bookstore, buy the used version, which is 25% off the full price. Then, sell it back to the bookstore at the end of the school year; they’ll give you half of the new book price for it. For all you math whizzes out there, that means you end up paying only a fourth of the full price for the book.

But, wait, what if you want to keep your textbook as a reference? Can you still get a good price for it? Yes, you can. Here is the secret to textbook bargain success: the internet.

Heads up, freshmen (or any Biola student interested in saving a buck), if you haven’t discovered or, you’re missing out. I’ve found some of my text books up to 85% off the original price on these sites—that’s including shipping.

So, it seems that, in general, textbook rentals are not the “lowest-cost” option. It’s cheaper to buy them online or to buy them used at the bookstore and sell them back at the end of the semester.

In light of that, should the bookstore do away with this new option? No, I actually think they should continue to offer rentals and work to add more texts to the list. I think it could be a big blessing to students who can’t pay much up-front on their books for the semester. It might even save someone from needing to take out a loan!

The best thing I discovered during my rental research is that the Biola Bookstore staff is working hard to meet the needs of students in a range of financial situations. Obviously, they can’t sell books for as low a price as some 35-year-old lady on cleaning out her old, unwanted college textbooks to make room for her cats. They really do try their best, though, to give students inexpensive books, not to make room for feline friends.

I talked to the manager of the bookstore and was very impressed to learn about the time and effort he puts into finding the best ways to provide textbooks for Biola students. Also, I found the rest of the staff to be very friendly and helpful.

If you do venture into the Biola Bookstore this semester, you can rest assured that it’s got your back – and your book!

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