New look, new options at bookstore

This semester the Guilford College bookstore, now managed by Follett Higher Education Group, is offering rental books and e-books as a part of a growing trend in colleges across the country.About 1,500 four-year college and university bookstores offer book rentals, up from 500 in just a year, according to The Kansas City Star.

Jon Varnell, vice president for administration, said that the option to rent books is an exciting new option for students.
“Book rental is clearly the hottest thing going with students and book providers. I could go on and on,” said Varnell. “This is one of the most incredible times of change we’ve seen in the book business in a very long time.”

There are currently 262 rentable titles, 35.7 percent of all the required or recommended titles this term. The bookstore only rents texts that are widely used or going into a new edition.
Jim Cope, regional manager of Follett Higher Education Group, said students save between 50 to 55 percent renting books verses buying them.

Cope pointed to the numbers to show how much this program is already saving students.

“(So far) this semester Guilford College bookstore sold 2,124 rental textbooks, saving students over $68,000 in total,” Cope said.

Senior Henry Catania said even with the savings extended by Follett, book publishers are still inflating their products considerably.

“Even with 50 percent savings, the publishers are still pillaging college students,” said Catania.

Text Book Manager Betsy Beard said the only student complaint she’s been made aware of is connected to the registration form found on the bookstore’s website. Beard encouraged students to call her with any questions or concerns.

“Sometimes students get a little confused when entering billing information, but this is easily fixed,” said Beard.

E-books are much less popular not only because of the high cost, but also because some vendors don’t have the option of allowing students to print pages. Most vendors only allow the reader to view the book for a period of time before the license to read expires.

Other complaints regarding e-books are linked with the pricing.
Most publishers have not reduced the price of e-books, so there is little incentive to switch from traditional to electronic books.
Sophomore Jeffery Jarvis, a philosophy major, said that e-books are attractive because they lend themselves to sustainability.
“I like that e-books are seemingly good for the environment, but I want to build a library of books relating to my field of study,” said Jarvis.

Follett’s e-book options include owning the book for life, as opposed to most outlets which rent books for a period of time and do not give the reader the option to print out e-books. Follett also included the option to print.

Senior Matthew Sinclair, an education studies and psychology double-major, said that students will be more interested in renting texts as opposed to buying.

He pointed to the meager return when selling books back to the college.

“Many students return their books at the end of the semester and we all know that the bookstore doesn’t always buy them back at a premium rate,” said Sinclair.

Rita Serotkin, dean for continuing education and director of summer school, said rentals may only work for certain classes, but she is for anything that would save students money.

“For some courses, that might be alright,” said Serotkin, “But for others, where the basic text is one you may need to go back to as a reference and refresher, buying would be better and make more sense.