Textbook rental’s impact at SLU

The rental textbook system is a rare and valuable resource at Southeastern. Most students take this system that has been in place since the 1930s for granted, yet it is something that sets SLU apart in many ways.

Southeastern used to be one of the few universities in the country with a textbook rental system. The program did not become entirely popular until about five years ago according to Auxiliary Services Director of Marketing and Strategic Initiatives Robin Parker. She said that SLU is lucky to have begun this strategy so long ago because it would be near impossible for a university IMG_1328this size or larger to start up this kind of process today.

Here at Southeastern, students pay a mere $45 per class for textbooks. Parker said that students often do not realize how big of a deal that number actually is. It has become one of her favorite selling points to parents, especially if they have another child in a different university. The light in the eyes of the parents, who are more than likely the ones paying these fees, never gets old.

SLU owned and operated textbook rental, meaning the university owned the inventory of books and operated the system, until last year. Follett corporation, a business partner who has been managing the bookstore for over 20 years, took over textbook rental as well. Parker said they approached the idea for a while, and finally determined that it made sense, financially especially, to unload the inventory to them.

The changeover to Follett management unfortunately did not go as smoothly as anticipated. The first working semester was the spring of 2015. Junior Amanda Moran said, “I waited in line at Textbook Rental for over an hour and a half to get my books last semester. The disorganization was apparent and it was clear that barely anyone knew what was going on.”

Moran said that when it was time to return her books in May, it seemed that the system had come together and it obviously was just growing pains. The chaos was in fact attributed to misinterpretations and miscommunications of rules and processes between the university and Follett. Students and employees both found a better process awaiting them in the fall.

Parker said, “I still just think that $45 is a pretty good deal when all we ask is to get them back by the deadline.” This semester, December 15 is the last day to return textbooks without a fine.

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