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Monday, September 27, 2021

August is a month of firsts - the first day of school, the first semester's tuition payment, the first month's rent deposit - all of which can add up.

Pre-med student Marlon Rodriguez had to take this into consideration when purchasing his genetics textbook.

Rather than paying $184 to purchase the textbook he needed this semester, Rodriguez opted to rent it for $138.

Renting textbooks has become increasingly popular in college towns like Gainesville.

Follett Higher Education Group, the operator behind the UF Bookstore, has expanded its rental services from seven stores in 2009 to about 860 stores across the country, and it is continuing to grow.

Last year, students who rented books from the UF Bookstore saved about $550,000, according to a press release.

Follett spokesman Elio Distaola said the company doubled the number of books available for rental from 2010 to 2011.

Not all textbooks are available to rent at the UF Bookstore - but the ones that are have been discounted by about 50 percent.

Renting textbooks is not new to Gainesville. The three Florida Bookstores have been offering students the option of renting since 2009.

All of their textbooks are eligible for rent, with discounts ranging between 15 percent and 55 percent depending on the book, textbook manager Mike Bibbee said.

Rodriguez said he isn't so sure renting textbooks is the best option, though.

"I still think it's economically better to buy your books," he said. "You can usually sell them back for more than you'd save by renting."

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Follett is also offering completely digital forms of some textbooks for students looking to save some money. These books generally cost 40 to 60 percent less than the new book.

Available through the platform CafeScribe, Distaola said these e-books are much more interactive than the typical PDF e-book.

Students using the books are able to exchange any notes they made in the book, create a study sheet from any highlighted material, and get feedback and tips from their professors throughout the book.

"We want to build a bookstore of choices," Distaola said. "In today's market, rental is still king, but we want to make sure we're ready for when we reach the digital tipping point."


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