Murray, KY – -A congressional audit showed that over the last twenty years textbook costs have increased at twice the rate of inflation. Making it among the highest expenses associated with a college education after tuition, housing, and a meal plan. Murray State University Assistant professor of Organizational Communications Dr. Frances Smith says she has at least two or three students affected by high textbook prices.
"...Either have to wait to buy their books until a few weeks after the semester starts because they are waiting for financial aid or have some other extenuating circumstances that don't allow them to buy their books right away."
- Dr. Smith says she is willing to help students find solutions to textbook issues. In some cases allowing pairs to share books.
"So I try to help provide them with suggestions on ways to lower their own cost even if they don't ask me directly."
-Suggestions like online vendors or used book stores, and up until recently those were the students' only options. Now they will have a new option next semester. A textbook rental system.
"However I think there are advantages and disadvantages to the possibility of having one."
-Obvious advantages are rates that would be less expensive than buying new. Dr. Smith says in that way a rental system would be very valuable.
"In other cases though I think having the textbooks actually owning them even if they are used or bought in some other way that is less expensive than buying the brand new textbook I think is more appropriate or better for the student than a rental system, for example textbooks that are in a student's major are often pretty important to have."
-But for some Students like biology major Tiffany Smith, the rental system would suit her needs:
"So far I haven't had any classes where I've really wanted to keep the books".
Spearheading a rental system through Book and Bean is CEO of C.A. Jones Management Group Chuck Jones; he says they have a relationship with Southeastern Book Company which will allow them to funnel books around the United States. The rental system will run students about half the cost of the book and they will have to sign an agreement to return the text at the end of the semester.
"We believe that if the story gets out and the college student understands that they can walk down there and get that book from us and we'll rent a textbook, to me it's really a no brainer."
There initial investment will be enough text for twenty five percent of the on campus population. Rentable text is reusable so no workbooks or access codes.
"...the students will dictate how much we have."
- What about local competition for Book and Bean?
-Former Director of the University bookstore Jack Vaughn says if MSU were to adopt a rental system it would be a University decision.
"We report to the vice president of student affairs and he would take it to the appropriate powers to be for that decision to be made and then we'll just do whatever that policy is and make it work."
-Vaughn says initially it would reduce net income depending on the size of the program. Income that would go to the University. As for the Book and Bean rental program: Students will be able to try out the new system next semester.
-For WKMS News I'm Paco Long-Mendez