Textbook rentals come to BookMarq

Many parents generously buy their child’s textbooks every semester, shelling out thousands of dollars over the course of their kid’s scheduled four-year college career.

Many students return the favor by selling those same books back to the bookstore every semester, and then shamelessly keep the money in their pockets.

Looks like that racket might come to an end.

For the first time this semester, Marquette students can rent certain textbooks from BookMarq, potentially saving students or their parents hundreds of dollars per year.

Follett Higher Education Group, which manages BookMarq, is a national company that provides services to bookstores. According to a Follett statement, almost half of students in Follett’s pilot program chose to rent their books instead of buy them.

“Textbook rental is a new, affordable option,” Follett said in an e-mail statement to the Tribune. “Both advancements in technology and pressures on textbook prices in the marketplace have led to a large-scale expansion in textbook rental programs.”

Students who rent their books from BookMarq are allowed to write and highlight in the textbooks, and books will be accepted back as long as they are in usable condition, Follett’s statement said.

So far, renting books seems to be a popular option for Marquette students.

Chris Gorski, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said he rented four of his textbooks from BookMarq for the upcoming semester, saving him more than $100.

“Renting books is far more cost-effective than buying them and selling them back at the end of the semester,” Gorski said. “Bookstores force you to accept whatever they offer you for your books, costing you a lot of money in the long run.”

Besides BookMarq, there are several alternative options for renting.

Angela Pontarolo, a public relations manager for Chegg.com, one of the largest textbook rental companies on the Web, said Chegg has saved students $250 million off the price of their textbooks.

“By using Chegg, students can save up to $500 per year,” Pontarolo said in an e-mail. “Over four years of college, that’s a savings of $2,000.”

Chegg rents out David G. Myers’ “Psychology” for $49.99, cheaper than BookMarq’s price of $61.43, with free shipping to and from Chegg.

Some students remain skeptical of the actual savings by renting their textbooks.

Mike Herbst, a junior in the College of Communication, bought all of his books online from Amazon.com. Herbst said while he did spend slightly more buying his textbooks than what it would have cost to rent them, he will make back most of what he spent by selling his books back on Amazon.com.

“It is a lot more work selling books myself online,” he said. “But at least I get back a substantial portion of my book money.”