With textbook prices continuing to be a burden for many students, an increasing number of college bookstores are starting to offer textbook rental programs. But USM — for the time being, at least — is holding off on the service.

Nikki Piaget, director of the bookstore, said they’re still considering how to rent books to students, but they plan to offer the service in the spring semester.

“Sometimes they are better deals and sometimes they are not,” she said Wednesday afternoon.

“Students have to do the math.”

For many students, it may be worth it to buy a text book and keep it — especially if it relates to their major. But for students taking core classes who likely won’t need the book again, renting may be the best option.

Bri Robinson, a junior social work student, said she’d be in favor of a textbook rental program on campus. “That is really cool,” she said. She said she’s spending $425 this semester — a jump from previous years. “This year I had three classes specifically with $100 books,” she said. Sometimes the bookstore won’t buy them back, which is frustrating, she said. “I hate it,” she said, adding that it seems “every math book I have ever bought” was declined to be repurchased by the bookstore.

Max Anderson, a junior political science student, said he anticipates spending $250 on textbooks this semester. He said he probably wouldn’t rent required texts because he likes to hold on to books relevant to his major.

Husson College started renting books this semester. And so far, students seem to be liking the new service.

“It has been very successful. So far students love it,” said Janet Francoeur, manager of the Husson bookstore.

The Husson bookstore is managed by Follett Higher Education Group. FHEG is in charge of the rental program and determines availabilities of textbooks for rent.

The University of Maine bookstore also began offering a textbook rental program this fall. They currently offer only 18 different titles for rental, but Dick Young, interim manager of the bookstore, said those titles are for higher-attended courses and would be new otherwise. “We’ve had a fairly decent response to it,” said Young. He said they’ll be looking to grow the program if it’s successful this semester.

Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, St. Joseph’s and Thomas are also offering a textbook rental option.

Piaget said the idea to offer textbook rentals on campus is relatively new — she’s only been hearing of it since the spring, she said. There are other online companies such as Chegg.com that offer rentals.

Piaget says that, in the future, students will likely mix buying and renting books. The bookstore also offers download coupons for e-books. Piaget says they’re starting to see a “very slight” uptick in e-books sold, but the technology may not be quite there yet.

“We want to give the students options,” said Piaget. “If we’re doing that, we’re doing our job.”

Paul Koenig contributed reporting.


  1. I have been attending USM for the past two years and over 80% of my books have been purchased outside of USM. High pricing differences are making it impossible to justify the USM purchase of most texts. Just this semester one of my texts was listed at USM for 87.00 used, I purchased it online for 55.00 and NO shipping cost! Pricing like this makes students wonder about the sustainability of the USM bookstore as a business. Unless USM is banking on young and unaware freshmen to subsidize the bookstore with blind purchases…I see a failure in the economics coming soon! Thumbs Up on the rental business!


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