Textbook rental program starts strong

The Santa Monica College bookstore's textbook rental program, which started this Winter term, has provided 460 textbooks to students since classes began, totaling a savings of $11,600 in book costs, or about $25 per textbook. "These are very good numbers," said David Dever, SMC bookstore manager. "We expect them to triple during Spring." Dever emphasized that as more classes are added in the upcoming Spring semester the amount of students seeking cheaper options for obtaining required textbooks will increase.

The now permanent program is in conjunction with the Nebraska Book Company, which purchases and sells books from publishing companies, and will continue into the fall semester.

At a time when a Chemistry textbook can easily cost $118 the rental cost can reduce that amount to $81. The bookstore is also going to begin renting out other required class materials during spring that might otherwise be very expensive, such as the TI84 calculator, which is required in math courses like Statistics.

"Officially the rentals kicked in on the first day of winter session," said Jaime Recinos, the bookstore's assistant manager. "We don't limit the courses."

Students can rent as many titles as necessary and do not have to return the books until the end of the semester.

"If there are both new and used editions on the shelf they can rent them," said Recinos. Bookstore visitors need only to check the price tags on the shelves which identify the usual purchase price and the newly added rental cost.

To rent books students first need to open a personal account either online at the bookstore's website or in person at the bookstore check out desks.

Once a student has selected a title to rent he or she can then take the book to any cashier at a check out aisle. The barcodes on the books are now modified to include two options, one for purchase and the other for rental.

"Right before we went into Christmas break we e-mail blasted the faculty and staff letting them know we were launching the rental program at winter session, this way they could inform their students," Recinos explained.

The only titles that will not be available to rent are those exclusive to SMC such as loose sleeve or custom titles which are only used at SMC and not nationwide.

Students seemed enthused about the new policy. "It will make it cheaper and you don't have to keep the book," said Alex Soto.

Nursing major Isaree Kittikhunkraisorn, who never purchases textbooks online was grateful she can rent them on campus.

"I think it's a good way to do business. Some students can't afford these books," she said.

Some students will prefer to stay with their previous routines however.

"I like to buy my books," said Valerie Carrillo. "I like to keep the knowledge that I've learned and it's useful. Most students aren't like that I guess."

"I would rent, I'm not paying $150 for a math book," said student Paul Miles. "I'm never going to open that book again after this class." A scan of the titles now available for rent at the SMC bookstore gives an indication of the kind of price reductions students can find. "Calculus: The Classic Edition" sells for $150.75 but can be rented for $81.21, "Compact Literature" sells for $139.75 but can be rented for $78.02. Another item of required reading, "Teaching Your Children," costs $123 but can be rented for $55. By initiating a rental program SMC is now joining a growing trend among American colleges. The market research firm Student Monitor LLC reported that in 2013, 10 percent of college students rented their textbooks as opposed to purchasing them. Students who want to find out what course titles are available for rent can ask at the bookstore check out desks or online at the bookstore's official site at http://bookstore.smc.edu/.

Correction: Jaime Recinos' last name was previously stated as Rocio.