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Can Rent-a-Text Save Traditional Textbook Stores?

Follet Higher Ed.JPGWhat can a college bookstore do to continue doing business? eReaders do seem like a godsend for textbook buyers; no more man power required to carry your semester’s 20-credit course load back to your dorm. But college bookstores face fierce competition because with the right tools, everything is a few clicks away.

One strategy is installing the Rent-A-Text program. Tom Christopher, president of Follett’s Higher Ed division explained the program in a Forbes interview: “In a nutshell, renting a textbook will cost about half of what it would cost to buy a new book. It’s just as simple as that. A student can rent a book and they can do all the things that they like to do: highlight parts of the book, make notes in the book. As long as they bring the book back in reasonable shape that’s the end of the transaction.”

Christopher goes on to say that the key to staying in business is to become a “house of options.” Essentially a college bookstore must cater to students by presenting them with every possible option for obtaining their textbooks. With a smorgasbord of options, students’ appetites can do the rest.

Over at the lifestyle blog Lifehacker, an essay entitled “The Complete Guide to Saving Money on Textbooks” suggested that readers photocopy college textbooks–spawning a debate about the ethics of photocopied books.

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