As many of my readers know, I used to teach at a community college in my former full-time job.  Many of my students came from underprivileged backgrounds and struggled in school, often times because they were struggling financially and worked full-time in addition to taking a full load of classes.  It was not unusual for several students per class to not buy the textbook simply because they could not afford it or their financial aid check was delayed.  My department tried to help these students by leaving a free copy of the textbook on reserve in the library, but many students did not have time to stay on campus as they had to hurry off to work after class.  Ultimately, many of these students dropped out or failed the class.

Likewise, when I was an undergraduate English major, having 10 to 15 books assigned to me per class each semester was not unusual.  I simply couldn’t afford to buy all of those books from the college bookstore, so I often frequented second hand book stores.  However, I had trouble following along with class discussions because my book was often an older edition and the page numbers did not match up with the pages in the professor’s newer edition.

I wish eCampus had been available to me all those years ago and even to my students only a few years ago.  At eCampus, students can choose to rent, buy or sell textbooks.  Renting college textbooks is a relatively new phenomenon, but I don’t know why someone didn’t think of it earlier.  It bothered me as a student, but even more as a teacher, when a student would buy a textbook in January and not be able to sell it back in May because a new edition was coming out.  Often, publishers release new editions of textbooks just two to three years after the older edition came out, leaving many students with an edition of the book that is now essential worthless.

Students can avoid this scenario by renting their books instead.  Even better, renting is substantially less than buying.  The text I used to assign to my students is currently $90 if bought new.  If students buy a used copy, they can expect to pay $60, but renting the book only costs $27.99.  Considering how little students often get back when they sell their books back, renting is quite a bargain.  Best of all, eCampus offers free shipping on all orders over $59, and it is free to ship back the rental books too.

If you are a college student or someone you know is, you may want to urge them to check out alternatives to the on-campus college bookstore.  Options such as eCampus can help students get their books at affordable rates whether they decide to buy, rent, or use an alternative delivery method such as an eBook.  There is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars at the book store when there are many more reasonable alternatives available.

This is a review of eCampus, an online rental book company.

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