Students get more textbook options


Starting next semester, students will be encouraged to rent their textbooks.

By Jarrett Lehman

The semester is now nearly over, and among other things, that means students are now trying to sell back their textbooks. The Fitchburg State College bookstore, run by Follett Higher Education Group, is the main option on campus, but not the only one.
Three semesters ago, a new service called PennText started rolling into town, providing an alternative buyback choice for students. And next semester, students will even be able to rent their textbooks from Rent-A-Text, online or through the FSC bookstore.
PennText, a low-key traveling book-buying company from Pennsylvania, sets up shop on the corner of Campus Pizza, located on Highland Avenue.
“We just roll into town the week of finals, and pitch a little competition for the other bookstore,” says a co-manager of the buyback tent. “We know the prices they’ll probably pay back, and we try to beat them by a few bucks – sometimes a lot. Students love us.”
A main selling point of PennText is that they will buy back a book at any value. This means that they will never pay less than $1 for a book that may be deemed valueless elsewhere.
But while selling directly to PennText may pay off for students immediately, it lowers the supplies in the long run. This is a reason that some books may not be stocked the following year, according to FSC bookstore manager Martha Jordan.
“We order books based on the previous history of books we’ve bought and sold. We have a limited supply here on campus, and every book we buy back lets us reorder the supplies for next year,” Jordan says.
“We offer whatever the book is worth in other stores, the wholesale price, if the book is not going to be required in any classes in the upcoming year. However, if it will be used next year, then we will pay back half of the new retail price.”
However, the college may have another solution to the higher cost of textbooks.
“We’re starting to encourage our students to rent, not buy, the books they use,” Jordan says. “Next semester, we’ll have a newer service.”
That service is called Rent-A-Text, and it will allow students to rent textbooks in the campus bookstore or online.
“I think it’ll be a great addition to the way students get books, and through that website, there shouldn’t be any shortage of the books they need,” Jordan says.