Sen. Charles Schumer recently urged the National Association of College Stores to encourage its members to expand textbook rental programs. He hailed it as a way to save students money, and the association called the move “a great leap forward.”

Renting textbooks would indeed help lower the high cost of college reading materials, especially for elective courses or specialty classes where the book would be needed only for a semester. And having a rental system in place, overseen by the bookstore, would allow students to save money upfront. Selling books back to a store or to other students is a gamble — and sometimes isn’t an option at all, if the text isn’t being used the next semester.

It is all well and good that Schumer turned the spotlight on the fact that textbook costs are becoming astronomical — and to some, unaffordable. But his solution sidesteps the problem rather than tackling it head-on. It doesn’t hold the publishers or booksellers responsible for the price hikes each semester, and it doesn’t stop the constant reissuing of textbook editions for minor revisions (making the resale of such texts less attractive).

Discouraging such practices could save students more money than any rental service.

Read more: Editorial: Textbook rentals a quick fix, but don’t do enough – Canandaigua, NY – MPNnow.

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