San Diego State bookstore offering textbook rental

Alanna Berman

Alanna Berman
SDSU Daily Aztec

SAN DIEGO (U-WIRE) – A college education doesn’t come cheap. On top of ever-increasing tuition fees and the costs of living in San Diego, students at San Diego State University are expected to spend $1,332 this year on books alone, according to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. The use of new editions, along with increased publishing costs have pushed prices higher; however, the SDSU Bookstore is trying out a new tactic to solve that problem – at least for some students.

This semester, 11 courses will offer students the option to rent, rather than buy course materials, saving students an estimated 40 percent, according to the Bookstore Advisory Committee.

The SDSU textbook rental program started as a pilot program last fall that included only two courses, CJA 420 and JMS 480. Beginning with the fall semester, the program is expanding in response to the demand for more cost-saving options when it comes to textbooks.

“There is a concern among students, faculty, and the bookstore that the cost of books is too high,” said Todd Summer, director of course materials at the SDSU Bookstore. “Finding the best way to save students money is crucial.”

In an effort to help students save, Summer said the bookstore offers 200,000 used titles each semester, stocking the largest selection of used books in the San Diego area.

“The rental program uses only new books,” Summer said. “Which lets us keep as many used books as possible on the shelf for students not renting.”

About 100 students used the rental program in its pilot year; however, Summer said it isn’t a good sample because they were 400-level courses in which students are in their major and more likely to keep their textbooks.

This year, 11 courses are offering rental texts, including the largest course, COMM 103, in which 5,000 students are expected to enroll this year.

Students taking the class will have the option to purchase the required text new for about $80 or used for about $55. If the book is going to be used again, the bookstore will buy it back and give students about 50 percent of its value, Summer said. Those who wish to rent their books would pay about $30 for a rental and would return the book to the bookstore at the end of the semester. Those who choose to rent books are not eligible to participate in the buyback at the end of the semester.

Students should be aware that rental books that have been heavily highlighted and marked on would be subject to an additional charge. Summer said in these cases, the difference of the rental and the cost of the book would be charged to the owner upon return. In other words, the student would pay the full new price of the textbook, but could not sell it back.

Accounting senior Pansy Thein said she spent almost $1,000 on books last year. “In accounting, it’s good because we can reuse a book for the next semester,” Thein said. “It saves me money, but I bought four books for one class, and they were all over $100 each.”

Thein said she would rent her books if she could.

“New editions are used each year,” she said, “so I can’t sell the books back at the end of the class.”

Instructors must order a book for four semesters for it to be offered as a rental.

“Not every class is taught every semester by the same teacher, and some classes are not offered each semester,” Summer said. “Not all classes are right for the program.”

This year, 1,500 students are expected to rent their books and the bookstore plans to expand the program. For more information and the list of courses offering textbook rentals, visit