Student body president Catherine Soler said a new program, Follett’s Rent-A-Text, will allow students to rent textbooks from the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore for a fraction of the cost of buying them, beginning next fall.
“We think that this is a great opportunity for all students,” Soler said. “It gives them another way to address the issue of textbook affordability, which is obviously something that everyone here struggles with. We’re always looking for lower prices.”
The program will allow students the option to rent books at up to 50 percent off the purchase price, Soler said. The program will be available online and in the Bookstore.
“Just like you would go to the Bookstore and purchase your textbooks, you can walk in and have the option of renting them,” Soler said.
Books are to be returned at the end of the semester, Soler said. Students do not sell back their rented textbooks — the monetary transaction at the beginning of the semester is the only time money is exchanged.
If students lose or damage a rented textbook, there will be procedures applied on a case-by-case basis, Soler said.
“It is a program that you need to be responsible and accountable for, just like any other textbook renting or purchasing process now,” Soler said.
Soler, along with student body vice president Andrew Bell, said one of the main advantages of the program is convenience.
“You’ll be able to buy or rent all of your books at the same time, rather than renting from an online provider or buying your books from various websites and waiting for them to come in,” Soler said. “You’ll be able to get everything from the Bookstore for a cheaper price.”
Bell added: “Convenience is a huge factor. In the past, it’s been that convenience at the Bookstore came at a much higher price than if you spent a lot of time searching online, going to different websites.”
Some of the rentable textbooks will include customized textbooks, which can normally only be purchased at the Bookstore.
“[Soler] and I are business majors. In the business school, their customized accounting textbooks include only the chapters we need,” Bell said. “You’re going to have to buy that at the Bookstore. There’s no other option.”
Soler said there is flexibility in the program, in case course textbooks change or a student drops a course. Students can also purchase books at the end of the semester, if the student rented the textbook and wants to keep it.
The program was designed by Follett and is used by other schools, but it has been customized for Notre Dame’s campus, Soler said.
“By having this program customized to our Bookstore, you’re getting the exact books you need for all of your courses,” Soler said.
Not every textbook is going to be rentable, Soler said.
“Some disciplines lend themselves more availability in terms of titles that you can rent,” Soler said.
However, Soler said, there is a unique option to Notre Dame’s program called the “local title option.”
“If professors make a commitment to the Bookstore to use the book for a certain amount of semesters, then they will be able to rent those books,” she said.
Soler and Bell said they encourage professors to consider texts that either are rentable or could be used under the “local title option.”
“We’re not suggesting that every single professor be forced to use a rentable textbook,” Bell said. “Our intention is not at all to compromise the academic integrity of a class here at Notre Dame. We just ask that every professor at least consider the options because it could save students a significant amount of money.”
Soler said the amount of savable money is high.
“If Notre Dame would’ve had this program last fall, eight percent of books would’ve been available to rent, and if everyone would’ve rented them, we would’ve saved half a million dollars,” Soler said.
The 2009 pilot program in 27 schools saved over $2 million, Soler said.
“We’re very excited we can bring this program to the students and follow through on one of our big campaign promises,” Soler said. “We think this is something really valuable for students and is something that will hopefully go forward and stay at Notre Dame, making an impact on everyone that comes through the University.”