Lowering College Costs: One Book at a Time

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CSM College Store Offers Money-Saving Textbook Options, 10% Discount Aug. 31

rom rentals to custom to digital, the College of Southern Maryland College Store is offering a variety of new, creative ways to save students money on the cost of their textbooks—and, through buyback guarantees, ways to recoup some of that cost when their courses are over. The first college in Maryland to offer textbook rentals to its students in 2008, CSM has expanded its program from rentals for two classes at the La Plata Campus to textbook rentals for 17 classes at all three CSM campuses this fall.

The rental program is part of a strategy to make books affordable for students, according to Auxiliary Services Director Marcy Gannon. Students can rent textbooks for one semester at a price that is at least 60 percent less than the new-book purchase price, said Gannon.

Cynthia Kirscht, of La Plata, who graduated last spring with an associate’s degree in music said she had a great experience with textbook rentals. “It saved me money in the long run and was a good way for me to keep my book in good shape.”

Currently, the classes that have textbooks available for rent are general education classes that are offered every semester and have high student enrollment. As a part of the rental program, professors agree to use the rental versions of the textbook for a minimum of two years. Students enrolled in one of these classes are eligible for this program with a valid student identification card and a signed rental agreement.

In addition to selecting rental books, CSM faculty, and Text and Trade Book Manager Dona Batten work closely to find the most relevant course materials that will provide the greatest value to students. In conversations with publishers and faculty, Batten has begun to negotiate ‘price lock’ guarantees on selected new course materials purchased as a package deal or in bundles. In buying bundled new materials there are often significant savings over buying used materials separately,” said Batten, adding that bundled books are not eligible as rentals.

 “Faculty do care about the cost of textbooks and are open to tailoring their course material requirements based on publisher options,” said Batten, who explained that faculty choose a bundled set of materials only when there is a real cost savings. Some instructors choose custom books, which eliminate sections or chapters of a textbook not used in a course, because of their cost-saving for students. Some faculty find savings for students by switching to alternative formats, such as hard-cover to soft-cover textbooks and from color to black-and-white textbooks, Batten added.

 “Our College Bookstore has been proactive and innovative in finding ways to help our students save money,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried. “We know the role books play in the success of our students, and we don’t want our students to forego books because they see them as unaffordable.”

Selling books back to the College Store provides additional cash in students’ pocketbooks. At the end of each semester—fall, spring and summer—the College Store offers “Buyback Days,” according to Gannon, which begin the week of finals through one day beyond the last day of class.

CSM’s College Store has also introduced a pilot “halfback guarantee” during the buyback period. Students will know when making their purchase which textbooks are included in this program. When these books are sold back to the College Store, students will be paid half of the book’s original sales price. The program will begin with two textbooks this fall.

 There are many options available for students due to the programs put in place by the CSM College Store, said Gannon. “We’re still trying to find the right mix of used, rental and digital books that will help students save money,” she said. “Each student needs to explore the options that are best for them.”

Textbook 10 percent off days are held at the beginning of each semester. Fall semester new and used textbooks will be available at a 10 percent discount on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at the College Store on each campus and online.

            For information on textbook rentals, 10 percent discount day and buyback days, visit www.csmcollegestore.com.