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Students take advantage of book rentals

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | SEPTEMBER 02, 2010 7:20 AM

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When she went to get her textbooks at the beginning of the semester, University of Iowa senior Kristin Langhammer tried something new.

She rented her Abnormal Psychology book from the University Bookstore. And she saved $120.

"It's definitely a lot cheaper; it ended up to be less than half the price," she said. She paid $65 to rent the $185 textbook.

This is the first year the bookstore is getting in on textbook rentals, long popular among students who used various websites.

Richard Shannon, the bookstore manager, said he's been planning for a textbook-rental program for three years and finally succeeded. He predicted it will be successful. The University Bookstore has partnered with a national book distributor to ensure that textbooks will be able to be used for longer than this semester.

The bookstore had rented 300 books before the school year started and estimates that a total of around 1,000 textbooks have been rented currently.

"It offers another price point to make books more affordable," Shannon said. "I anticipate this growing from year to year."

The bookstore offers 32 titles for rent, available at a rate of 40 to 45 percent of the book's sale price.

UI faculty members said they understand the need for cheaper textbooks for students.

"Textbook packages have gotten expensive, and I know students are looking for anything that could make it cheaper," said Daniel Quinn, a UI professor of chemistry.

He said he isn't surprised the University Bookstore has implemented a textbook-rental program. He thinks it will help students who have the burden of very expensive textbook packages in his department.

Robert Thunhorst, an adjunct assistant professor of psychology, was not aware books could be rented this year, but he takes price into consideration when he chooses a textbook for his classes.

"I use an edition until there is a new edition and then decide on keeping the textbook or using another one," he said.

UI senior Brent Heddens has used Chegg.com to rent books since his first year at the UI.

"I can get new books very cheaply," he said.

But some students decided textbook rental was not the best option for them.

"I bought my biology book because I need it for two semesters so it didn't make sense to rent it, send it back, and rent it again," said UI sophomore Kat Attermeier.


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