Textbook rental program proposed to ASI senate

By Sandra Siagian

Published: Saturday, September 27, 2008

A textbook rental program for Cal State Long Beach was proposed by 49er Shops, Inc. bookstore director Fred Neely at the Associated Students, Inc. Senate meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Successful implementation of the rental program, which is projected to begin spring 2009, would result in millions of dollars in savings for students on textbooks, Neely said.

The proposal to ease the financial strain on students’ pockets was welcomed by ASI president Erin Swetland, who expressed excitement about the idea.

“The burden for students buying textbooks is horrible and students are hurting,” she said.

Students would pay approximately 60 percent less than the price of a new book and return it at the end of the semester, according to Neely.

The program relies heavily on partnership between the 49er Shops, Inc. bookstore, the University Library and the CSULB faculty. Neely said that other institutions including Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State have instituted similar programs and report student savings of at least 50 percent with the use of rental books.  

When the process begins, students will pay 40 percent of the book price in advance with a Beach Club Card for rentals. Rental listings will be made available at the bookstore, online and provided in class syllabi. Students will sign a contract to have the book returned in good condition no later than the last day of finals.

Neely said he is looking for the students voice to help push the approval of this program and also encourage faculty members to look at the options.

“Participation on the academic side of the house, as well as the faculty is the key to a successful program,” Neely said. “It is important for students to send out the message to the faculty, as they have a stronger voice than the bookstore in putting out the message for participation in the rental program.”

Faculty members, he said, need to select rental-eligible titles for classes in order to enable students to save money through renting books.

In order for a book to be selected on the rental list, it must be considered a traditional textbook. Therefore, only textbooks used in high-seat-count classes, new editions that will be used for four consecutive semesters and not bundled with media, discs, and study books can be used for the rental program.

Working together with CSULB President F. King Alexander, the ASI committee and the 49er shops, Inc., Swetland said the library’s new technology and access to stored books has provided many different options to be explored for the program.

“I hope that there can be some hope for students to save money in the textbook industry,” Swetland said.

“Our goal is to be the most efficient rental program in the country as we are one of the few universities who have a partnership with their library for rental distribution,” Neely said.

The proposal will await debate from the ASI senate next week for approval.

Alexander also confirmed that the parking structure is scheduled to open at the beginning of the spring semester, which will add 1,000 parking spots.          

Alexander, Vice President Douglas W. Robinson and Swetland have also discussed extending the U-Pass program for CSULB students, faculty and staff.

“We will be looking for ways in the next two to three weeks to partner with ASI and to see if we can look into Long Beach city transit to also come down off some of their costs,” Alexander said.

Alexander said the program was a “good system” that will require discussion with LB Transit to extend the program for the nine primary months and cut down on some of the costs.