By ELIZABETH REHBEHN
The University of Mary Washington’s bookstore began offering textbook rentals to students this past May, according to Kathy Sandor, the bookstore manager.
Many students first learned about this new program as they went to purchase their new books for this semester.
UMW senior Dana Heffernan said that an employee at the bookstore told her about the program as she was checking out.
Mary Washington is now one of many public Virginia universities to offer textbook rentals.
According to the bookstore websites, Christopher Newport University, the College of William and Mary, University of Virginia, George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech have also recently developed textbook rental systems.
One reason the bookstore decided to offer rentals was to provide students with more options for students to receive textbooks, Sandor explained.
“The store team strives to make as many options as possible available to students –the more we can lower costs for students, the better,” she said.
However, according to UMW’s book rental website, there is a limited offering of what types of textbooks available as rentals.
Sandor said that students would have to investigate to find out which of their needed materials are actually offered through the book rental site.
Despite the limited types of books offered, Sandor claims that students have already rented over 500 titles for this fall.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said UMW sophomore Emily Planas. “Textbooks are so expensive and for many courses – especially [general education requirements]–many of us will never use them for more than a semester.”
According to College Board, the national average for books and supplies at a four-year public colleges and universities is $1,137.
Sandor warned that students still should evaluate all their options.
While a book rental may have a lower upfront cost, she explained, “Often a used textbook, sold at buyback at term end, will be the most cost effective option.”
Ultimately, Sandor said, the cost of the book versus the cost of renting the book varies greatly depending on what you are trying to get.
While Planas agrees that the most cost efficient method is the way to go, she’s still keeping her options open.
“I would look into renting texts from the bookstore, but I would still check Amazon and other sites as well,” Planas said. “Just because you’re renting doesn’t mean it’s necessarily cheaper than a used copy from somewhere else.”
Students interested in renting textbooks can do so through the UMW bookstore’s online site, clicking on the textbook page.