Buying textbooks at the start of every semester has become significantly cheaper for the hundreds of students across the country who have taken advantage of Skoobit.com.
Skoobit is an online textbook rental company that enables students to potentially save money by renting, as opposed to buying, their textbooks. Textbooks can represent a large chunk of the cost of higher education and it can be exasperating for students to spend hundreds of dollars per book, only to turn around and sell it at the end of the semester for only a fraction of the purchase price.
“I had the idea [for Skoobit] back when I was an undergraduate at the University of Miami,” explained Chris Blythe, founder of Skoobit. “I was frustrated by high textbook costs. With renting textbooks it is a great way to save money, I realized that most students don’t keep the books, so they can rent the book at a fraction of the cost.”
This logic is shared by many students who feel gamed by the system.
“It is frustrating that I have to spend so much money on textbooks, especially when professors don’t end up using them or they are not useful for the class, but there is no way of knowing that until I am already into the semester, but by then it is too late to return them. I spent $750 on textbooks this semester and I am expecting to get as little as $250 back, if that,” said Nicole Morson ’11.
While some stores can post a rough estimate of how they compute prices for buying back books, the market ultimately dictates the value of the books.
John Ryan, general manager of Kraftees in Collegetown said, “The price varies and changes all the time, sometimes we pay half of the new book price, it is on a book by book basis. There is not a lot of profit on some of the books that we buy back; it is more about providing a service. The textbook rental thing is new; in essence it is kind of what we do. We sell students a book and then we buy it back, so you are paying a fee to use the book.”
Ryan continued, “You never know what you are going to end up with, renting online. You come to the bookstore, and you can physically hold the book and flip through it.”
According to Skoobit, should a student be unsatisfied with the service, a Skoobit rental can be cancelled at any time, with no charge, save for the months the book was in the possession of the student.
The most popular plan allows students to rent textbooks at $10.99 a book, per month. Skoobit also provides free shipping for receiving and returning the book. Should a student decide after the rental period that he or she wants to keep the textbook, the cost of the textbook, minus the rental fee, is charged. Skoobit allows students to rent as many books as they need, for as long as they need. The variety of plans offered give students the option to rent books based on the length of their semesters, quarters, or even if they are attending summer school.
Unfortunately, Skoobit does not ensure that supplementary material associated with some textbooks will be included, but claims that they make every effort to include them.
Not only is Skoobit trying to help the financially concerned, they are also targeting the environmentally conscious. Currently, Skoobit is making an attempt to partner with Ecolibrary, which would ultimately result in a tree planted for every textbook rented.
“Say [Skoobit] rented 10,000 books for the month. [Skoobit] pays [Ecolibrary] $.50 for each book and they use the money to plant a tree for every book that is rented. With renting textbooks you are already saving the environment because you are re-using the books; I decided to take it a step further to preserve the environment even more and plant trees, so I sought out a partnership,” said Blythe.
Skoobit is making an attempt to partner with Ecolibrary, which would ultimately result in a tree planted for every textbook rented.
“Say [Skoobit] rented 10,000 books for the month. [Skoobit] pays [Ecolibrary] $.50 for each book and they use the money to plant a tree for every book that is rented. With renting textbooks you are already saving the environment because you are re-using the books; I decided to take it a step further to preserve the environment even more and plant trees, so I sought out a partnership,” Blythe said.