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Textbook rentals may not save students’ money

The UNM Bookstore claims its new textbook rental program will save students money, but cost comparisons of several textbooks might suggest otherwise.

The Bookstore began the rental program, which allows students to rent used books at half the price of the book’s new retail price, Bookstore director Melanie Sparks said. Students must return rented books before the last official day of classes each semester, and the book must be in “saleable” condition.

“No torn or water-damaged books will be accepted, limited highlighting is acceptable … Saleable condition (is) as determined by the Bookstore staff,” according to the Bookstore’s rental agreement.

If books are deemed “un-saleable,” students are responsible for the entire price of the new book, in addition to the rental fee they already paid.

Sparks said the Bookstore offers more than 100 rental titles in multiple subjects.

“We wanted to make sure that we had stuff for freshmen, stuff for sophomores, stuff for juniors, stuff for seniors,” she said. “We wanted to make sure the books weren’t all in (liberal arts subjects).”

According to the rental waiver, only students “in good standing with the Bursar’s Office” and who are enrolled in classes at UNM are able to rent books.

UNM student Chris White said he would rather buy books.

“I can sell (books) back to the Bookstore for half price,” he said. “Although it’s more money up front, it’s the same at the end of the day and if they tell you it isn’t in good enough condition, at least you don’t have to pay the full new price on top of your rental too.”

Only used titles are offered as rentals, and textbooks sold in packages with other content are not available for rent.

Sparks said the selection of books available is limited by agreements with publishers, who only allow certain books to be lent to students.

UNM student James Adams said he has mixed feelings about the Bookstore.

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“It’s really great that the Bookstore is renting books now, it really is, but they still way overcharge students on books and it’s pretty unfair,” he said. “They are making a huge profit ripping off students who have to have the books, especially last minute, but the people who can, all shop online.”


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