Renting: the new book option for students:

Buying textbooks can be hurtful to the average student’s wallet, but Barnes & Noble is providing a new program to ease the pain of purchasing textbooks. 

This semester, UH students will now have the option to rent a textbook instead of buying new or used, something Marc Eckhart, regional manager of Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, said is significantly cheaper than buying.

“Say a textbook costs around $100 new; that same book in used condition would cost around $75,” Eckhart said. “But a rental would cost only about $50, or even less.”

Barnes & Noble first piloted the program in January to 25 different colleges and universities across the nation. The program was successful and has been instituted at more than 300 colleges and universities and is anticipated to expand to more. 

Of those 300 locations, five will be located here in Houston — one being the bookstore located on campus in the University Center.

According to a Barnes & Noble news release announcing the expanded book rental program, a survey of college students who participated in the pilot program showed that more than 90 percent were satisfied and looked forward to renting textbooks again.

“There’s less upfront money when a student rents a textbook,” Eckhart said. “The only thing that’s different is that the student has to sign a rental contract. 

“Once the semester is over, there’s a 10-day grace period to return the book. Of course, if the book is not returned, there is a penalty, but the number of textbooks that have not been returned so far are minimal. 

“Students are also free to take some notes and highlight important points in their rented textbooks,” Eckhart said.

The rental program allows students to rent textbooks through their campus bookstore or through the bookstore’s website. Shipping and handling costs are waived. When the time comes to return the textbooks, students have the option of returning rented books to the campus bookstore or through the mail, also with no shipping charges.

A wide variety of payments are accepted, including cash, debit cards and financial aid cards. Email alerts are sent out when the return period approaches, reminding students to head back to the bookstore or post office. 

“The addition of rentals means that college students have all the options they want, many at great cost savings, without shopping multiple locations and vendors,” said Jade Roth, vice president of Books & Digital Strategy for Barnes & Noble College Bookseller.

“Additionally, students can shop with the assurance that they are getting the right book because we work directly with their faculty members. And, of course, they have the added confidence of knowing they are managing their textbook needs through Barnes & Noble.”

Eckhart is hopeful the rental program will continue.

“The rental program is a partnership with Barnes & Noble and the college wanting to participate,” Eckhart said. “As long as the college wants to participate, the program stays.”