More Rental Options for the College Bookstore, New Survey Results


The battle over textbook rentals is moving off line and into the campus bookstore, and the turf up for grabs includes both institutional and private stores. During our

CAMEX recap, we shared stories about Follett’s new partner program with independent bookstores, as well as a new partnership between Chegg and ICBA and one between and NACS. And the trend continues with other companies following suit.


South Eastern Book Co. Joins Forces with
SEB, through their $10-million investment in CollegeBookRenter becomes an in-store rental player catering to the needs of today’s college students by offering an online textbook rental program. SEB Rental customizes each bookstore’s rental site using the appropriate school colors and bookstore logo. Unlike its competitors that require a 7-10 day turnaround, SEB guarantees that a bookstore’s rental site will be live within three business days of the initial request. SEB provides the necessary customer support and IT assistance and even facilitates customer returns. SEB will assume any losses associated with students’ failure to return textbooks, and bookstores will collect a 10% commission on all textbooks rented through their SEB rental site. SEB Rental offers a store-reporting function and the company provides promotional materials to drive traffic to bookstores’ rental sites and help ensure their success. Launches Unique “RentBack” Program is an online textbook-rental company that works with more than 200 rental drop-off locations nationwide. These locations include everything from private bookstores to shipping stores to coffee shops — anywhere college students could use to send back or drop off their books. The new RentBack program enables students to bring a textbook in at any point during the semester and sell it instantly for cash. The students can then “rent back” the book for the rest of the semester for only $1. This one-of-a-kind program helps cash-strapped college students who can’t wait until the end of term to get cash for books.

In addition to adding new and immediate benefits for college students, the RentBack Program offers unique incentives for each drop-off location. Books are purchased and rented back to the student using money that is provided by, so there is no out-of-pocket cost to the participating store. Furthermore, if the store wishes to keep the book, they can purchase it at the end of the semester for the rental price plus a pre-determined markup fee. It’s almost like having a textbook warehouse in your store. The program also offers additional features. More information is available by contacting directly. Survey Finds That Rental Is Cheap but Not Always the Answer
In a recent survey of users (more than 400 total responses) found that:

  • 50% said that rental was the cheapest option but they did NOT chose to rent.
  • 36.6% said that rental was the cheapest option and they DID choose to rent.
  • 6% said that rental was not the cheapest option.
  • The remaining 7.4% just couldn’t remember (these are college students, after all).

Some reasons students gave for not renting textbooks:

  • Keeping books for future reference
  • Just prefer to own my books
  • Don’t want to deal with having to return books at the end of the semester (would like the option to keep rented books)
  • Feel restricted by rental durations
  • Prefer to buy and sell back at end of term (can get cash back, don’t have to worry about damaging a rented book)
  • Books were relevant to major and may be needed later
Thank you to Jeff Sherwood of for sharing his survey results with me. While our websites compete against one another, it is always helpful to get perspective from others in the price-comparison space and combine efforts for the good of students and the industry.
What’s your impression on these partnerships and developments? Any big news on this topic that I missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *