Why we don't rent books here

August 31, 2018

One of the choices that you face if you’re shopping elsewhere for your books is a decision about whether to rent or buy.  Your BMC Bookshop does not offer a rental option.  Here, you buy your books and then we guarantee buyback at the end of the semester.

We think our system makes sense for several  reasons:

1) At the beginning of the semester, how will you know whether these are books you’ll want to keep? You should make the keep/discard decision after you’ve taken the course and after you've read a book, not before.  We hope that during your time here at Bryn Mawr, you’ll encounter many books that you’ll cherish forever.  (We still have books from our college days our shelves!)

2) Many books used in classes here span multiple semesters.  Most rental programs are structured for a single semester, which means that you might have to pay multiple times to rent the same book.  The calculus book for MATH B101 is also used in B102 and B201, so if you’re continuing in calculus that’s a triple rental charge.

3) Rental program buyout charges vary considerably, but they can be steep.  One vendor is asking three times the rental fee to allow you to keep you book, and their rental fees aren’t cheap in the first place.  In our system, you’re not risking a bad surprise when you decide it’s a book you want.

4) We have to admit that we would have trouble running a strong rental program here.  Bryn Mawr classes and books change frequently; we generally don’t re-use books here the way other schools do.  A rental program depends on re-use: the more often a book is re-used, the faster a vendor can recover the cost of the book.  For most adopted titles, we can be competitive on purchase price -- more competitive than most folk think -- but we don't have the same opportunities in setting rental prices.  So, yes, there are a few cases where rental from other vendors is an attractively inexpensive choice, and that’s why we show rental on our comparison shopping site at brynmawr.verbacompare.com.  We provide this site so that it’s easy for you to see all your options!

Our buyback guarantee applies to all “regular” books purchased here. The guarantee does not apply to loose-leaf and bundled books (though we are sometimes able to buy back some of these titles).  Also, we cannot buy back access codes, coursepacks/readers or heavily-used workbooks.  Books must come back in sellable condition with no water damage and no loose pages.  Remember that the guarantee only applies in the semester that you purchased the book.

The final question that we’re always asked about guaranteed buyback is how much will I get if I sell back my book?  For more on pricing, please visit this earlier blog entry: bookshop.brynmawr.edu/guaranteedbuyback.