In-store textbook rentals have only recently caught on. Touch-screen kiosks also enhance the experience for students.

Long feared on death’s door, college bookstores have been given a new lease on life—thanks to partnerships with textbook rental companies.

The nation’s brick-and-mortar college bookstores have been struggling to compete with online retailers. Their answer to eBooks is an alliance with former rivals: textbook rental companies, such as, a major driver of the movement that offers kiosks within stores themselves.

Auburn, UConn, Wake Forest, and dozens of other university bookstores offer rental options to students.

Bill Simpson, president of the UConn Co-op bookstore, said the system allows students to spend less money on textbooks overall, while the store is able to rent the textbooks many times before they leave the store’s inventory. Many large textbooks cost well over $100 but can be rented for about 33 percent to 55 percent less, according to the National Association of College Stores (NACS).

“You get to sell the book for less to the student, and we get paid more than if we had sold it directly to the student, so it’s a good deal for both of us,” Simpson said.

The NACS estimated that textbook rentals have saved students a total of $300 million this year.

In a recent survey, students estimated that they spent an average of $655 on textbooks this year, down from $702 four years ago.

Alternatives to paying the full price of a new textbook include buying used books and later selling them back to the store.

Textbook-industry analyst Jeff Cohen said that the popularity of in-store textbook rentals has been growing among students because of the initial cheap cost.

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