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Cal Poly to rent out books

Cal Poly student Nathan Zorndorf, right, asks El Corral Bookstore employee George Elliott if they currently rent out textbooks.  The new program to rent textbooks will start in the fall.
Photo by Joe Johnston 02-03-10
Cal Poly student Nathan Zorndorf, right, asks El Corral Bookstore employee George Elliott if they currently rent out textbooks. The new program to rent textbooks will start in the fall. Photo by Joe Johnston 02-03-10 Tribune

Cal Poly will roll out a new book rental program in the fall to give university students a cheaper option for finding their course texts.

Other Cal State University campuses already operate book rental programs — including Fresno State University, where more than 80 percent of books are available for rent at the campus bookstore.

Cal Poly’s fledgling rental program will be limited to an estimated 14 of the most heavily-used books campuswide from a variety of disciplines, though that number hasn’t been finalized, officials said.

The local university’s program could grow, though, if students show demand.

Students will be able to pay nearly 60 percent less up front for books compared with new book prices and then return them to Cal Poly’s campus bookstore, El Corral, at the end of the quarter.

The students can make light markings on the rental books, but they must keep the texts in good condition, said Bonnie Murphy, Cal Poly’s executive director and associate vice president of commercial services.

Murphy said that renting books may not always be the best deal for students, considering students can recoup more money by buying used books and selling them back to the bookstore at the end of the quarter.

New books also can be resold to the store and some of the money made back, but typically rentals would be cheaper.

“Also, some students might have a book they’ll need for three quarters and in that case, it’s best to buy the book because they’d have to rent the book each quarter and pay each time,” Murphy said. “What we’re saying is that the rental program is another option, but we want students to know it’s not always the best or cheapest option.”

Students interviewed at Cal Poly this week said they spend between $300 and $800 per quarter on books; some use online stores to buy books cheaper.

Online vendors rent books as well, and Cal Poly students could go that route, instead of the campus bookstore, but they’d have to pay shipping costs, which could be around $8.50 for a 3-pound book.

E-books also can be downloaded onto computers. But those haven’t been very popular, and students sometimes don’t save much if they have to cover costs of printing pages.

Freshman Leila Tebyani, an aerospace engineering major, said she welcomes the rental book program and plans to look into it.

“I don’t want to buy a book if I don’t have to,” Tebyani said. “And the whole online renting thing is too complicated.”

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