New Act Makes Textbooks Available for Rent

Vanessa Duffy

“Of course I would rent textbooks on campus!” said Ninelly Shabani, a student at GCC. “It would make the process so much more convenient.”

Students either buy and sell textbooks or rent and return them to save money. It’s the where and how options that take some research. New legislation passed in July aims to reduce textbook costs and to give students the option of renting books on campus.

Textbook retail prices increase at an average rate of 6 percent per year, according to the Government Accountability Office. So it’s no surprise that campus bookstore sales are declining.

An article on finds that about 15 to 30 percent of all textbooks are purchased online. Many students who
can’t afford books don’t buy them at all or simply make photocopies in the library.

In an effort to make textbooks more affordable, Congress amended an additional section to the Higher Education Opportunity Act on July 1. The new section includes publishing costs, advanced book listings, and campus textbook rentals that should make researching textbook options easier.

The full price of textbooks is often nearly as much as the classes themselves even though some professors try to select more affordable textbooks. The social and natural science courses are the most costly and typically require a textbook plus a lab manual. For example, a Geography 101 course at GCC requires a textbook, lab manual and a lab fee that add up to approximately $180 at the campus bookstore. The same textbook can be bought on Amazon for $56 or rented on for $41.

The three most popular online book sources among GCC students are Amazon, eBay, and, an online book rental service.
“You can buy books online so cheap right now,” said GCC student Cally Doan. “My chemistry book retailed at $200 but I bought the previous edition for about [$30] from Amazon. There weren’t that many changes from the old edition.”

Thanks to the new law, publishers need to include a description of the substantial content revisions made between the current edition of the college textbook and that of the previous edition. This will help students who had previously purchased an older edition of the textbook to keep up with more current and relevant information. Publishers are also required to disclose to the colleges the cost of manufacturing the textbook as well as the cost at which they make it available to the public.

The act requires campus bookstores to make bundled materials available separately and priced individually. Science course textbooks are still sold in bundles at the GCC bookstore.

According to a few people waiting in line at the bookstore, they chose to buy their books on campus in order to avoid waiting for them to arrive in the mail.

Students don’t have to wait for the syllabus to know which books are needed for their classes. Every campus must disclose the price of required and recommended textbooks online for each course.

The college has already implemented this regulation. Go to, select the semester, class course and section number, and the books will be listed below. GCC gives students the option of purchasing books online and picking them up on campus when the semester begins, or having them mailed.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act encourages colleges and universities to inform students about available cost-saving strategies. One of these is renting textbooks.

“Glendale Community College will have textbook rentals available sometime next year,” said Anjali Stanislaus, director of the Glendale Bookstore. Stanislaus stated that the GCC Bookstore is student body owned, which means the profits go toward campus programs, clubs and scholarships.

The amendment states “No later than July 1, 2013, the Comptroller General of the United States shall report to the authorizing committees on the implementation of this section by institutions of higher education, college bookstores, and publishers.”

For complete details on the new amendment, visit the website of the National Association of College and University Attorneys at